The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 27, 2013

My View: Kids will be kids, but we need parents to be parents

Al DeKruif

— As our Legislature and governor are about to raise taxes to historic levels in the name of better education let’s look at studies on whether moneys will be well spent.

Having sat on the E-12 Education Committee the past two years, we heard much testimony of how student achievement is closely associated with parental involvement. Proponents of all-day kindergarten say that studies overwhelmingly show a positive benefit of all day kindergarten. Yet, they largely ignore evidence — particularly two large studies — that found there is fade out of any benefits; a decrease in positive attitude towards school; and actual harm to math ability.

A 2010 government sponsored study concluded that, “attending full-day (or all-day) kindergarten had a positive association with academic achievement (compared to half-day kindergarten) equal to about one quarter standard deviation at the end of the kindergarten year. But the association disappeared by third grade. However, children may not have as positive an attitude toward school in full-day versus half-day kindergarten and may experience more behavior problems.” (1)

A 2006 Rand Study found that, “both academic and nonacademic school readiness skills at entry to kindergarten were significantly related to eventual reading and mathematics achievement in fifth grade.” It also found that, “attending a full-day kindergarten was unrelated to reading performance,” and “after controlling for nonacademic readiness at kindergarten, children who had attended a full-day program at kindergarten showed poorer mathematics performance in 5th grade than did children who had attended a part-day kindergarten program.” (2)

This finding raises the possibility that earlier studies may have failed to find relationships between full-day kindergarten and outcomes because they omitted important information relating to nonacademic dimensions of readiness.

So instead of considering all information and evaluating the costs and benefits we see the DFL in the Legislature go all in, head first, in more funding, which studies have found to have no to little impact on student achievement. More pre-school, more after school, more kindergarten — let’s have school take over responsibility for educating and raising our children. 

What happened to parenting, teaching your child values, hard work and learning to make good choices in life? Parents of ordinary children are emboldened to push for lower standards so no one feels bad, let alone extraordinary. If you have a child who is gifted, athletic or artistic, their accomplishments should be rightly recognized, not only as a reward for their hard work, but also to serve as incentive to others to move past their current stations and strive for something greater.

Work hard, play hard, move up the ladder to success was the ticket to living the American Dream, wasn’t it?

Few parents teach their children how to manage money, the old rule of thumb of saving half of what you make to put away for post-secondary education. 

Many parents no longer instill in their children personal responsibility, respect and work ethics. Talking back is tolerated as self-expression and laziness is accepted and excused because we all want our children to have a better life than we did. Make them work for things and if they don’t achieve, they don’t receive! It’s all about learning life lessons.

If we stop raising our own children others will step in and have more influence on them than we do. Should government be raising our children or should you? We all live a busy lifestyle today. Take time to spend quality time with your kids, talk with them and guide them.

Help them find a job and make them stick to it! Allow them to spend half the money they earn and teach them the value of doing a good job and saving money.

We need to do better if we expect better. Seek innovation; strive for greatness; not simply throw more money at old solutions that have not worked.

If we don’t improve the way we parent, we will be raising a generation of dependents. Dependent upon parents, loans, government or anybody else that will help them maintain a lifestyle without having to take responsibility for their own life choices. If we don’t do it — the government will, and we know how well the government manages things!

Al DeKruif is a former District 25 state senator. He is the owner of DeKruif Enterprises and Sakatah Trail Resort. He lives in Madison Lake.

 

Sources

1. Cooper H., Allen A. B., Patall E. A., Dent A. L.(2010). Effects of full-day kindergarten on academic achievement and social development. Review of Educational Research, 80, 34-70.

2. School Readiness, Full-Day Kindergarten, and Student Achievement, An Empirical Investigation, Rand Corporation (2006).