|Editor, The Tribune
May 20, 2004
| Your Friday editorial, "Weakest link" was astounding
to me. "The responsible budgets offered by Gov. Napolitano and
the Arizona Senate", you have got to be kidding! When we are
STILL addressing a huge deficit, you believe it is responsible to
go further into debt? You then referred to expanding all-day kindergarten
as the cornerstone of the Governor's budget and that the Senate should
settle for nothing less. How can we, as state legislators, after swearing
to uphold the Arizona Constitution (which means we take an OATH to
balance the budget and not spend more then the revenues that the state
collects), even consider full-day kindergarten without a dedicated
funding stream? Our general fund is depleted, we do not even have
the money to increase the programs that are already in place much
less begin a new one.
|Now we have this "new" idea that has been hatched by the
Governor and the those legislators that believe money grows on trees
in Arizona; full day kindergarten . Stuffing active, little bodies
into a structured, five-day-a-week school routine is just the ticket.
|Boys are especially affected by an early structured school environment
because they develop slower than girls. This type of situation can
frustrate and depress them, producing rebellious, even bullying behavior,
not to mention a dislike for learning.
|There is a report from the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development
that demonstrates the correlation between the incidence and severity
of stress and behavioral problems in children spending long hours
in daycare. The same conclusions were reached in a study from the
Institute of Child Development of the University of Minnesota. The
use of tranquilizers such as Ritalin to force boys and increasingly
girls, too, to endure this endlessly structured environment is a terrible
|Full-day kindergarten is not a "new" idea. Today's children
do not have less ability to learn than children of any other period
of history. What has radically changed and been restructured is the
content of the curriculum. Children can learn to read by the end of
the first semester of the first grade, when taught by using a phonics-based
reading program. Reading, and later writing and math, are the cornerstones
of all the later academic subjects taught in school.
|The assumed cost of full-day kindergarten would be staggering. 25$
million the first year with the increase reaching as high as 300 to
400 million in just three or four years. Children five years old and
younger don't need to be stuffed into a structured school situation
five days a week. They need to be running and playing at home with
their parents and families.
| Instead of raising and/or squeezing taxes, our tax laws should
be changed to support families so that the mother is not forced out
into the labor market and children into day care and full-day kindergarten.
All the AIMS scores in the world cannot justify preventing mothers
from raising their own children. Do we really want government to be
our children's babysitter and hear lines like this: Hi! I'm from the
Department of Education, and I'm here to teach your children - just
|The "showdown" that your editorial talked about will surely
come. It is between the Governor, those legislators that do not have
an understanding of the proper roll of government and the unrepresented
(except by a minority of concerned legislators) taxpayers.
~ Representative Karen Johnson