February 25, 2013

Letters to the editor: Early education doesn't bear fruit

I'm sure Dana Connors, Meredith Strang Burgess and Robert Moore have their hearts in the right place and truly care about Maine's tykes ("Maine Voices: Skilled workers start out as well-educated young Mainers," Feb. 2).  

Marisol Garcia, Bethlehem Zerabruck
click image to enlarge

Children play together at a Head Start program in Hillsboro, Ore., in 2007. Supporters of Head Start and other pre-K programs mean well but don’t acknowledge that such programs can’t make up for poor parenting and a neglectful home environment, a reader says.

2007 File Photo/The Associated Press

So do I, but I disagree with them that the answer is heavy-duty Head Start and other pre-K programs. 

The national news is currently reporting on findings that Head Start does not produce long-term positive results and for several reasons, which I shan't try to go into here. I would rather readers go to the Bloomberg.com commentary I read recently, which prompted me to write, and read for themselves. 

The commentary, written by Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute, is titled "The Shaky Science Behind Obama's Universal Pre-K."

Murray says that the early education program that can be offered on a national scale is Head Start, which "has never proved long-term results in half a century of existence. In the most rigorous evaluation ever conducted, Head Start doesn't show results that persist even until third grade."

He says that as of 2013, we just don't know how to help all of the nonflourishing children. It's not lack of money -- we just don't know what to do!

Murray really gets to the crux of the matter: There are too many children born into unsafe, non-nurturing environments to parents who are lousy parents.

Parents should be teaching these little guys and girls from Day One.

That's what America needs to cure -- the complete breakdown of the family. We know it's not going to happen, but let's face that and not throw money into a bottomless pit.

Perhaps the business community should get into the picture and work toward promoting family, where children should be taught the skills they need to survive and thrive.

Rose Marie Russell


Catholic high schools focus on gifted at others' expense

After reading Joe Wagner's letter to the editor ("Academics top attraction at McAuley," Jan. 23) in reply to Elizabeth Flaherty's earlier letter ("Group gives private schools unfair athletic advantage," Jan. 12), I have been made aware that Mr. Wagner has opened a Pandora's box of questions.

Let us view "elite" Catholic private high schools, such as Catherine McAuley and Cheverus. Let's evaluate them in the light of Christian and democratic goals and values.

I contend that public high schools reflect those values, as well as private Catholic schools, if not more so.

Why do we have elite Catholic secondary schools for the rich and gifted? It was not always this way in the Diocese of Portland.

We begin with the premise that "all men are created equal" and that educational opportunities, regardless of one's IQ or bank account, should be available to all.

Beginning more than 100 years ago, Cheverus and Cathedral high schools offered all students, regardless of IQ or bank account, both classical and commercial programs.

Now, the educational goals of McAuley and Cheverus are to offer a strong preparatory program for students to enter prestigious colleges.

Mr. Wagner mentions that McAuley recruits "from a variety of economic and ethnic backgrounds."

Where do the economically deprived students get the five-digit tuition fee?

Mr. Wagner points out that McAuley provides a "safe environment for girls."

Does he suggest that Deering, Portland and South Portland high schools are less safe?

It is obvious that McAuley and Cheverus do not offer programs for the less intellectually gifted.

(Continued on page 2)

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