Letters to the Editor

Voice of the People - October 12, 2007

Look to the heavens

I was reading the weather section on Monday. It said that several planets would be visible this week. Can you tell me where to look? Do I need a telescope? Will you please print the answers in the paper soon? My brother, Wilson, and I are studying the solar system.

Sophie Walker

Second-grader

Rock Hill

School district needs program for 3-year-olds

Speaking as both a teacher in Rock Hill School District and the parent of a 3-year-old, a standardized 3-year-old pre-school curriculum could potentially resolve many of the achievement problems we observe at the high school level.

Rock Hill Superintendent Lynn Moody recently unveiled the district's plan to improve the achievement of at-risk high school students. I applaud her comments and the district's efforts. As a teacher of biology and physical science at Northwestern High School, I see kids with learning deficiencies everyday. This semester, I realized that I must make a concerted effort to teach my applied biology students to write. In biology, we are talking about nouns, verbs and adjectives. I have observed that when they read aloud, they stumble over many of the words, then refuse to try them after I have told them the word. When they write, they use the biological terminology incorrectly. On the one hand, I fault them for failing to learn these skills elsewhere, but at the same time, these basic skills must be mastered before the study of biology can continue. If the students can't read their textbook, its diagrams, my notes or my assignments, then we will all fail. I suspect that our kindergarten teachers, too, are overwhelmed with the number of students who come to them without the expected basic foundations.

When did we do away with the 3-year-old pre-school program? Day care is expensive for many families, prohibitively so. My 3-year-old child is enrolled in day care at the cost of $560 per month. For our 3-month-old to attend the same facility, the cost would be $700 per month. Yes, that is $1,260 per month, for those readers who are out of the day-care loop. It would be more than our monthly mortgage payment. We are a two-income family, and the cost of child care is more than we can truly afford. For those who cannot afford this, their children spend the day at home day cares or with family members, most likely watching TV and sleeping all day. Babysitters and grandmothers provide a wonderful environment for infants, but the brain of a 3-year-old should not be left in neutral all day.

A 3-year-old is ready for an academic environment. My son surfs Nick Jr.com like a pro on both the laptop and the desktop. He knows his upper- and lower-case alphabet, his numbers and the Pledge of Allegiance. He can recognize about 150 words, so why can't he attend public school? Why isn't there a standard curriculum for 3- and 4-year-olds?

The "curriculum" of private day-care centers and child development centers is highly variable, thus some are better than others. With a standardized pre-school curriculum in their background, our kids would be able to do much more as 5- and 15-year-olds. A pre-school program would jump-start that necessary early learning and motivation. A pre-school program would be expensive, but so is the cost of mentors and tutors for high school students. We can't even begin to calculate the cost that more high school dropouts will have on our community. Early intervention is more effective than late, and staying ahead is easier than catching up. The value of education is immeasurable.

Kimberly G. Anderson Rock Hill

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