February 07, 2007
The Pre-K Debate - Glorified babysitting or scholastic insurance policy?
You heard the man. Governor Bredesen, in his annual State of the State address, outlined a funding initiative (based on the iffy cigarette tax) to increase the number of pre-kindergarten programs in the state. The message is sure to receive mixed reviews, as is already evidenced by discussions in numerous virtual and physical settings.*
Leaving aside for a moment the voluminous assumptions we make regarding the necessity and relevance of four-year college degrees in the marketplace, let us not fool ourselves into ignoring the proven positive impact on academic ability that early learning programs are able to produce (with the obvious caveat: when implemented effectively). Thanks to the author of the popular blog Nashville is Talking, a roundup of statistics is readily available in the post titled “Pre-K Is More Promising Than The Boys Give It Credit For.” Look it up.
Children at this young age do not see learning as a “required” activity. They just do it. All one needs to do is provide access to the materials and information, and they set about having fun soaking up the knowledge. It is for this reason that pre-K learning should be seriously considered as a common goal. Yes, there is a strong argument that the primary responsibility of a child’s education lies with the child’s parent(s), but that stance could be (and is) used to argue against public education in general. If we accept that the society, through its state, has an interest in a well-educated populace, then our provisions wisely include measures to address this motherlode of time-sensitive learning capacity.
Who knows? Perhaps some of the burden on K-12 teachers to provide childcare instead of education could be eased by kids’ having been taught to love learning already.
The University of Orange
Keep your ear to the rail regarding a proposed change to the University of Tennessee system’s public presence. As goes the account given me, a major re-branding initiative has been suggested by consultants that would unify all UT campuses (campi?) under a common logo and, more noticeably, a single color. Yes, you guessed it, that color would be a most familiar shade of orange.
Of course, athletic programs across the system are exempt. I am not qualified to hold this opinion, given how well I don’t keep up, but I could imagine a response something like “Of course UTK doesn’t want other UT teams using its colors. Apart from the confusion, there are reputations at stake.” Again, I don’t know enough to say exactly whose reputation would end up sullied, but the point is that the unification of all schools, except for their sports, by the brand ID that is so closely associated with a particular campus’s athletics, could be seen as too strongly emphasizing football (with all due respect to the Lady Vols) within the overall image of the system.
It’s an interesting debate, and one given fresh input by a certain former star quarterback’s very recent success in some sort of professional title match (or so I’m told). After all, sport is a means to massive resources for the institution. Watch for more to come, as alumni and student groups, faculty and friends, and our UTC community as a whole decide how we’ll respond to attempts to supplant the Blue and Gold.
Freedom of Inference
You probably read or heard about the anti-defamation bill that was “accidentally” filed, then hastily withdrawn, in the General Assembly last week. If you didn’t, you could use a refresh on your sources. To briefly recap for those not paying attention, the bill would have devised special protections for public officials from defamatory remarks on websites and would even have required owners of said websites to remove allegedly slanderous statements within 48 hours. (I suppose the bill’s authors have never seen a page that’s been cached by a web crawler.) So, even if someone read something the wrong way, internally misplaced a comma, or was just feeling a little sensitive that morning, the online police could make the offending journalist or blogger shut up.
State Senator Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville) gave the bill text, which she says was authored by a third-year law student, to Rep. Rob Briley (D-Nashville), who filed it. Keen-eyed citizens saw this (thanks is due the General Assembly’s online services), alerted the citizen media, and within hours the bill was pulled, with both lawmakers backpedaling on how it ever came to be in the first place. I’m not trying to discount their stories; but the moral here is that we have to watch. It is just such a move, intentional or not, that could cause us to wake up one day with radical changes to the freedoms we now enjoy.
* This Pulse column actually went to print before Governor’s Bredesen’s State of the State address. If for some reason, my assumptions are inaccurate, please accept my apologies.
Pulsations | By joe lance | 09:54 PM