May 08, 2009

They grow up so fast

It seems like only yesterday that Stew was sitting on the couch in his underwear eating Cheetos and screaming at the television. Come to think of it, it was yesterday. I forgot Stew was watching Glenn Beck on the Fox News Channel again. Stew should really stop doing that or else his head is going to explode. Every time I catch him watching Mr. Beck, I always think to myself, "This is it. This is going to be the day Stew suffers a stroke." But he always seems to pull through despite his certainty that democracy as we know it will soon come to an end. You see, we've never viewed Stew as a glass-half-full kinda guy around here. In fact, he doesn't even see the glass as half-empty. On the contrary, Stew believes the glass is completely empty because someone (most likely an illegal immigrant) stole his water and has pawned the glass for cash. But just last week, Stew managed to surprise our entire family when he announced over dinner that he is helping to form an Early Childhood Family Education Parent Advocacy Group here in Chaska. I'll give you a moment to get up off the floor and back into your chair before I continue. Ready? OK. Sorry to startle you like that, but we were all just as shocked as you. In fact, I nearly made a mess on the dining room floor when I first heard the news. Now, read on...

First off, what exactly is Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE)? Well, up to this point, I've simply referred to it as "Claire's school"... or the 90-minute class Claire and Stew attend every Wednesday morning (they're currently on break until mid-June). More specifically, the ECFE program Claire and Stew attend is one of 330 statewide. As far as we know, Minnesota is one of about three states with an ECFE program. The program incorporates 1) parent-child activity time when Stew and Claire usually shoot hoops at the mini-basketball hoop in the corner of the classroom, followed by 2) parent discussion time where the parents meet with a licensed parent educator to share experiences and information about child development and parenting techniques. And while the parents sit around and bitch about how their little angels are turning into demons, the toddlers participate in 3) child activity time where they learn with a licensed early childhood teacher and teacher aide and practice social skills as they interact with each other (Claire usually hangs out with Miss Ruth, her favorite teacher's aide).

Unbenounced to our family, apparently a lot of people think ECFE is one of two things. Some think it's a program for poor, disadvantaged families who need extra help parenting. While others think ECFE is for privileged homemakers who use the program as "just something to do with the kids to pass the time" (the term coffee klatch came up at Stew's first meeting while discussing existing stigmas of ECFE). The truth is ECFE is simply a program for all families, and it's been great for us. The research is indisputable as to the profound benefits ECFE has on early brain development, parent-child relationships, child development and providing clueless parents like Stew with the tools necessary to (hopefully) raise a confident, bright, empathetic, future starting point guard for the Minnesota Golden Gophers Women's Basketball team.

The reason Stew got involved in this parent advocacy group is because the Minnesota State Legislature came close to severely cutting funding for ECFE this year. But with a nearly $5 billion budget deficit, ECFE and other early childhood education programs are being looked at again for cuts next year. And if Stew's learned anything from watching Glenn Beck, it's that grassroots movements work best if they are fully promoted by the Faux News Channel (see my previous rants about tea bagging). Therefore, Stew has already fired off emails to the socially conscious network requesting to be a guest on The Glenn Beck Show, The O'Reilly Factor, and Hannity's America... although I doubt Stew realizes these are the very folks who will invite him on their shows so they can bash him for supporting the socialism movement that wants to indoctrinate small kids (and their parents) with facts based on scientific research. Facts, especially those based on science, are never welcome on Fox News!

Anyway, I encourage you to please learn more about ECFE by watching the video found HERE. And I think the picture below might provide some insight into why Stew's so passionate about his newly found cause...

- Only half of Minnesota's children are fully prepared for kindergarten
(which causes a domino effect when extra time has to be spent helping get those kids up-to-speed with the rest of the class... everyone falls behind). A Minnesota study conducted by the state Department of Human Services demonstrated that children in quality child care are measurably more ready for Kindergarten than are children who lack that opportunity. ECFE gives every child this opportunity.
- Every $1 spent on quality early education saves taxpayers up to $12. For example, you won't have to spend those extra dollars on incarcerating a teenager who grew frustrated from being behind in class and decided it was easier to vandalize, steal or break the law in some other way. A barely sufficient one percent of Minnesota's state budget goes to this cause, even though the first five years of life are arguably the most important in forming the character, skills, and outlook of any human being.
- Public benefits of investing in early childhood education includes better performance in K-12 by students, which leads to better-paying jobs, less crime, and less dependence on public assistance in their future.
- Giving all children access to high quality early education helps the next generation reach its full potential. Whether it's ECFE or daycare -- child care is early education! It is not baby-sitting or only a workforce development program; it is about giving our youngest citizens the best quality early learning experience possible, so they can be ready for school and ready to succeed in life.


Anonymous 3:33 PM  

Yey Stewie!!! I think that's awesome. I support all of your socialist endeavors. Will you work on nationalized healthcare next?


Anonymous 8:40 AM  

Good Luck Stew!!!

Support my dawgs!

Here's where I put stuff I support...

About This Blog

Commentary from a stay-at-home dad on daily happenings and misadventures while helping raise a wonderful little girl. The goal is to employ wit, sarcasm and/or humor to make the blog pseudo-entertaining. Then again, setting goals never really worked for me, but maybe you'll chuckle anyway.

OUR FAMILY - Provides a brief bio on each family member.

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