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Underfunded Prekindergarten and ADHD

February 24, 2014

Today’s NYTimes features an op ed article written by UCal Berkeley professors Stephen Hinshaw and Richard Sheffler titled “Expand Pre-K, Not ADHD”. The article describes the explosion of ADHD diagnoses in K-12 schooling and expresses concerns that as younger and younger children enter school more and more of them will be diagnosed with ADHD. As Sir Ken Robinson pointed out in his celebrated TED talk captured in this RSA Animation, Ritalin (and now Adderall) prescriptions began spiking around the time high stakes testing began, and as readers of this blog know, high stakes testing is an essential element of the factory school model.

As I noted in my written comment to the article in the Times, as a nation we want fast, cheap, and effective solutions to every problem… and drugs do the trick! The budget figures Cuomo and even deBlasio are projecting for prekindergarten will not provide the funds needed to operate a developmentally appropriate preschool program… let alone a program that would provide the kinds of wraparound services the most exemplary preschool programs provide. The politicians have sold the public on prekindergarten programs that push the traditional factory school model to three and four year olds. The programs advocated by “reformers” call for school to administer standardized tests beginning at age 3 or 4 and use those test results to sort students earlier and earlier into “compliant” and “non-compliant” bins… not exactly the terms used by the “reformers”… but an exact operational definition of the sorting.

Here’s the bottom line: When we warehouse more kids in traditional classroom settings at an earlier age we’ll be giving those “noncompliant” kids sedatives so they will pay attention to the teacher! Unless we are willing to spend more to offer a robust preschool program and allow time to be the variable and learning to be the constant we will spend more on drugs and continue turning out the compliant conformists who unquestioningly accept the narratives reinforced by the factory school.

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