EDUCATION FOR A FREE NATION
105 Peavey Rd, Suite 116, Chaska, MN 55318
Childhood Policy and Budget Division
Testimony by April Selenskikh, Parent
March 21, 2006
Re: Senate File 3300: Kindergarten Readiness and
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is April
Selenskikh and I am the mother of three children, aged 4, 2 and 7 months.
I would like to address the topic of Parent Education and Kindergarten
Readiness in S.F. 3300. Like many parents, I enrolled my boys in Early
Childhood Family Education (ECFE) hoping for a valuable educational and
enrichment experience. Instead I discovered that Parenting Education
harms families and children.
Parent Ed diminishes the authority of parents.
ECFE does not support "parents as their children's primary educator"
but treats parents as pupils. We are given homework. We are monitored
during play time. ECFE does not exist to learn from parents, but to
impart knowledge, values, and attitudes to them, including how to parent.
The concept of partnership between families and schools suggests equality
of influence that should not exist. The school is a resource for my
family and subservient to it, not the other way around.
ECFE teachers are not credible authorities.
What qualifies a person to teach parenting classes? Having children
themselves and parenting them successfully or taking classes and be
awarded a certificate? Most parents would agree that successful parenting
principles must be taught by good parents and this is why traditionally
we turn to our family, neighbors, and houses of worship for that advice.
We want to be taught by people we know, whose children we know. More than
the acquisition of a specific skill set; good parenting requires
character traits such as patience, self-sacrifice and dedication. These
values can not be effectively transmitted through a large educational
bureaucracy. The other moms in my group chuckled at being taught how to
parent when we several of us had three or more children. žI just come to
have a break and chat with other moms, žone confided. "I just like to get
out of the house." said another.
It is intrusive.
Our local ECFE contacted me immediately after the birth to my third child
offering free dinner, a book, and infant parenting classes. I found this
outreach intrusive and troubling. SF 3300 would expand these practices as
noted in Section 7 "Educate Parents Partnership." As a parent, I do not
want the state to contact me after the birth of my child or even worse at
the hospital in order to provide parenting education. This assumes that
we are incompetent, or worse a threat to our children and should only
apply to a small percentage of families in crisis. Group homes attest to
the abysmal failure produced when the state tries to be a parent.
ECFE presents one parenting philosophy as fact.
Most modern parents have read enough parenting books to be aware of
the current controversies and opposing viewpoints. Demand or scheduled
feedings? Spock or Sears? Child-centered or parent led?
Despite differing theories, ECFE presents one theory of child development
and parenting, without statistical support, nor a fair presentation of
opposing views. There is no reference to the trends in parenting that may
be popular for one generation and then discarded the next.
ECFE undermines traditional values.
My ECFE teacher modeled confusing non-traditional gender roles for my
young sons. My 4 year old was told to pretend that he was mom. My 2 year
old was encouraged to play dress up in feminine clothing including high
heels. Without being alarmist, I believe this was intentional on the
behalf of the instructor. Our children were also taught to address the
teachers by their first names. We sang songs about "many different kinds
of families" alluding to controversial social issues.
Parents go to ECFE for their children's educational enrichment, not
I went to ECFE for the benefit of my children, not to access
parenting assistance. I have yet to meet a parent who does. An
educational play date with mom in the next room is a strong selling point
for the program. If ECFE were more honest about the centrality of the
parenting Ed the advertisements would say "Do you need help
parenting?" Instead Minnesota ECFE advertises its mission as being to
"strengthen families and support all parents in providing the best
possible environment for the healthy growth and development of children."
It is not marketed by saying "Do you need help?" or "Let us to teach you how to raise your kids."
Parenting Ed shuns moral absolutes.
It prefers the concepts of "choice", "consequences" and "limits." Parents
are encouraged to view misbehavior as "testing limits",
" expressing emotion," or "developmental phases." In seeking to avoid shame
based or abusive parenting, ECFE goes to the other extreme, refusing to
label behavior as being "wrong." Junior biting someone is merely
"expressing anger inappropriately." Moral absolutes are discouraged even
when confronting harmful, anti-social, or dangerous behavior.
Kindergarten Screening -Subjective and
I asked my son's teachers what he needed to know in order to be
prepared for kindergarten. Should he be able to count to 100? Write his
alphabet? Read simple words? I never got a straight answer. Reading
SF 3300, I have learned that kindergarten readiness is
based on a highly subjective assessment that equates social skills to
academic performance. It favors an emphasis on "social development"
that is biased against normal boy behavior. Imagine the following
Junior runs around the room while the girls are reading quietly. He
throws a truck at his friend. During recess he splashes in the mud,
getting other children dirty. He shows little interest in reading and is
fascinated with trucks and trains.
According to the Kindergarten Screening Assessment this child fails
to master žself control, "interaction with others," and "showing
appreciation for books and reading." Whether or not he is able to read,
writing, or tie his shoes would prevent him from failing.
As the parent of a child with autism, I am sensitive to the need
for access to special Ed services for children who need it. However the
Kindergarten Screening Assessment puts boys at a disadvantage compared to
their more verbal, socially adept female classmates. It will funnel
normal boys into expensive special education programs unnecessarily.
Combining behavior assessment, socialization and academics is not a
new educational philosophy. But it is a dangerous one. It is what my
husband experienced in Soviet Russia. If you'd like to see the
outcome of that policy, I encourage you to visit Russia today and witness
the broken families, anti-social violent youth gangs, and despair. We
should learn from them and refuse to allow "family education"
and "behavior based assessments" to become codified in American
The State must not be allowed to parent our kids in the name of
"Family Education" because the State cannot love our children- only a
parent can. The State can only use them to produce a commodity-
human capital. Minnesota parents do not need schools to teach us how
to parent, from birth or at any other time. The proposed Kindergarten
Screening and Parenting Education are to harmful children, families, and
ultimately society. I therefore urge you to protect Minnesota's Children
and Families and vote "No" to S.F. 3300.
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