Can you explain this to me?
Well, here we go. I’m going to, once again, slog into the confusing world of politics, education and the working poor.
Currently, with me staying at home with our kids and Anthony working full-time, we are “poor”. Poor enough to qualify for free preschool for Jonathan, who will be 4 this month. When Jonathan was enrolled at the Cal Poly Children’s Center, he teacher identified some learning delays that required some work. Nothing serious, just some speech issues as well as fine motor skills. So we enrolled him in a preschool enrichment program in addition to his time at Cal Poly’s preschool, and he’s been doing great. I like his teachers and I like the speech and occupational therapists that he works with. Since I’m not going back to Poly in the fall for my MA (newsflash: I’m having a baby in October – I’m not going to keep trying to be super-student), Jonathan and Hannah no longer get to be in the Poly program. So, I signed up for Free California State Preschool. We got the admissions packet in the mail yesterday.
The hurdle I was expecting was there: we selectively vaccinate our kids, so their shot records are “incomplete”. I flipped through the packet to make sure the vaccine refusal form was there, and it was. Cool. I flipped on the TV and proceeded to skim through the rest of the packet. Parent participation required – good. Don’t bring your kids in sandals – ok. Food allergy issues, schedule, goals, field trips. Great stuff. Home visit. What? Home Visit?
“The teacher will make arrangements with you for a home visit. The visit may last 30 minutes.”
Um, Big Brother, anybody?
Why is this necessary? I totally understand home visits and inspections for foster care and all that, but why would the teacher need to visit our house?
I muted the TV, started reading more carefully, and found this other little gem. Perhaps it’s because of my conservative, sheltered, homeschooled background, but I laughed out loud (actually, I snorted) when I read the following:
“In order for our preschool programs to operate effectively, students must be on time and attend school regularly. Unexcused absences are not funded by the state agencies whose dollars support our programs“.
Oh, I see! The emphasis isn’t put on the educational opportunities that my child might miss out on by not attending school that day (you know, sand table play day), but the money that the school will not get if he is absent!
So now I was thinking really hard. And it struck me what a crazy bind our family is in right now. As I mentioned, with me staying at home for now, we are living on one income, and qualify for this great State Preschool program. However, if I was to return to work, we would go over the income limit and would have to pay for Jonathan’s preschool (only the State one is free). But here’s the kicker: I would then have to put ALL of my children in some sort of daycare program, which would basically eat up all my earnings (unless I started making a lot more money than most jobs in Paso Robles pay), making it pointless for me to have a job, since I can take care of my own kids for free!
Why don’t I just homeschool Jonathan? That’s a really good question! I don’t feel like I have the time, energy or skill set to help him like he needs (how do you teach a kid to hold a pen? he insists on holding it weird, and the OT is the only person I’ve seen get him to hold it right… for 20 seconds). Is this just a case of me being insecure about my parenting? I would really rather read to my kids all day… since that’s what I like. But I don’t want them to have gaping holes in their education like some homeschooled kids I know, and I want them to experience the social interaction that “regular” school can offer. But this paperwork is really making me think: how much government oversight do I want on my family??