THURSDAY, 4/5/12, #33
Online kindergarten: Generally, I believe it is foolish to inform oneself about an issue, but I came across something so fascinating that, despite my better judgment, I just had to read more about it. It is distance-learning kindergarten. Student loans for kindergarten are on the rise, and one way parents can avoid having to take out such a loan is to enroll their children in online kindergartens, which are cheaper.
“Unable to afford private school,” says Louis Scatigna, “more parents are turning to loans years before their children start college.“
Once again the Jacksonville School Board has demonstrated its short-sightedness by not supporting online kindergarten. It turned down an application for a web-based charter school. According to your T-U reporter, Teresa Stepzinski, the “charter wants to open a kindergarten through ninth grade web-based school, named Florida Virtual Academy at Jacksonville.”
As is so often the case, our local school board is behind the curve.
Fortunately, the better heads at the Florida State Board of Education in Tallahassee overruled the Jacksonville board and are allowing online kindergarten to proceed here in Jacksonville. Read more:
Duval to challenge state Board of Education
The rising cost of kindergarten is attributable to Robert Fulghum’s 2004 book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. This book raised expectations so high about what a good kindergarten should offer that many parents now cannot afford to send their children to one without taking out a loan.
What is it that, à la Fulghum, a good kindergarten is supposed to provide? Let’s go through his list of the things he claims to have learned:
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don’t hit people.
- Put things back where you found them.
- Clean up your own mess.
- Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
- Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
- Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
- Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
From a business perspective, all this is touchy-feely crap. What counts is, what did the child learn? How do we know he or she learned? What is the mechanism of assessment? What is the metric by which each student’s progress is evaluated? How do we hold the teachers accountable? How far did taxpayers’ dollars go toward achieving each unit of student learning gain? What is the ratio of total taxpayer dollars spent vis-a-vis the overall units of student learning gain across the state? How can we squeeze even more units of student learning gain out of each taxpayer dollar expended?.
Moreover, the bar for what a good kindergarten should offer has been raised by parents who believe they should want this touchy-feely crap for their children. Now kindergartens across the nation are engaged in an arms race to offer everything Fulghum says he learned. Fulghum’s kindergarten has become the new normal. When I went to kindergarten many years ago, I vomited one day during story time, and the teacher explained that “even the President throws up” as the other kids cried “Yuck!” After I threw up, the kids stopped playing with me. They never did include me again in their games, all the way through college. Anyway, enough about me. Now, if a kid throws up, the other children would have to undergo grief counseling. All this upgrading comes at a price, so parents have to take out loans. That just goes to prove that parents haven’t got a clue when it comes to knowing what is best for their children. So it is good we have a Deleónsylvania Board of Ed that balances the needs of taxpayers with those of children (and their misguided parents).
The State Board of Education is right to look for the no-frills approach by forcing the Jacksonville School Board to accept online kindergarten. Online education cuts out excess. Why should kids fraternize at tax-payers’ expense? What good does all that playtime do anyway? With distance-learning kindergarten, we will begin to see less and less of this:
Extravagant infrastructure and wasted time socializing during playtime, at taxpayers’ expense
A cesspool of needless expenditure
In our globally competitive world, a child needs to start learning the basics early:
A student at Virtual Academy, learning to use the mouse
If kindergarteners need to see what other children their own age look like, they can Skype or watch videos.
There are other advantages too. Consider Raffi’s song “Banana Phone.” Kindergartners using the online platform will be able to watch the video unencumbered by distracting and unnecessary social interaction:
By contrast, children in face-to-face educational environments are likely to want to sing along, mess up the lyrics, and render the whole experience unpleasant:
Disgusting social conformity encouraged by socialist, ‘big brother’ teacher.
More importantly, distance-learning kindergarten teaches personal autonomy early. From the start of life, they begin to learn an important lesson, that they are on their own. Most significantly, it tattoos our liberty-loving society’s motto onto their little impressionable souls: l‘enfer, c’est les autres.
So, I suggest to the Jacksonville School Board, to quote some guy named Eldridge Cleaver, that “either you’re a part of the solution, or you’re a part of the problem.” You can tell which side of that equation I’m on, can’t you! So I am glad that I overcame my better judgement and for once informed myself about an issue. Now I almost feel like I’m an expert on distance-learning kindergarten. Do you think they’d let me enroll?