Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pre-K = childhood's end?

Comment posted following “As the first day of school approaches, the city trains thousands of universal pre-K teachers,” on Chalkbeat
Posted on August 12.

I wonder how many of those interested in teaching Pre-K in New York have read the "New York State Prekindergarten Foundation for the Common Core." 

The document is 62 pages long, filled with an astonishing list of standards that cover Approaches to Learning (e.g. "Asks questions using who, what, how, why, when, where, what if," Physical Development (e.g."runs, jumps and walks in a straight line, and hops on one foot"), Social Development (e.g. "Identifies the range of feelings he/she experiences, and that his/her feelings may change over time, as the environment changes, and in response to the behavior of others"), Communication, Language and Literacy (e.g. " With prompting and support, demonstrate one-to-one letter-sound correspondence by producing the primary sound of some consonants,"), and Cognition and Knowledge of the World (e.g "Analyze, compare, and sort two- and three-dimensional shapes and objects, in different sizes, using informal language to describe their similarities, differences, and other attributes" (e.g., color, size, and shape)."

The document insists that the standards are not a curriculum, and not an assessment tool. But they "but can inform the development or selection of screening and progress monitoring tools" and they are intended to be a "bridge between the learning expectations of children birth through three and the standards for those attending K-12 in public schools." It is hard to imagine that the Pre-K standards will be used as anything a curriculum that teachers must teach, students must learn and be tested on, to make sure students are prepared for the rigors
of kindergarten. Standards and tests go together: Without tests, standards cannot be enforced. 

Nearly all children raised in a healthy environment develop these competencies in the course of hearing stories, interacting with others, and, of course, playing. Instead of allowing this to happen, Pre-K is in danger of turning play into work.

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