Pre-k: an individual and community need

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PONTIAC PERSPECTIVE by PETER GAUTHIER

By now, students have returned to classes be they in pre-K, kindergarten, grade school, high school, college, or university.  And our society approves and supports them; we want them to continue in their studies until they have achieved the

PONTIAC PERSPECTIVE by PETER GAUTHIER

By now, students have returned to classes be they in pre-K, kindergarten, grade school, high school, college, or university.  And our society approves and supports them; we want them to continue in their studies until they have achieved the
maximum level possible. But there are questions about education that need to be looked at – questions of purpose and value. 
If one looks at the majority of reports and discussions on the value of education,
the predominant answer is economical; those with higher education generally have higher incomes. The surest method of improving wages and reducing poverty is education, but is economic success the only, or even the most, important reason for education? One might draw a comparison with health. Our society values health,
provides health services, and advocates healthy living. Is this only so society can have healthy workers who can be economically more efficient? Rather, do we not see health as having intrinsic value, as contributing to the overall betterment of the individual? 
Similarly, is it not the case that in most societies, the provision of education, like health services, has a value intrinsic to the individual? Is the purpose of education not to aim for betterment of the individual? Further, studies indicate that child education must begin early and, in fact, this has become a recognized standard policy in all advanced counties. Preschool and pre-K are recognized as basic to the all-round development of a child’s character and future educational prospects. Early education is more likely to result in the life-long learning attitude that is essential to a meaningful and successful life in contemporary society. This early education should be available to all children on an open basis with no discrimination based on the financial or other status of the parents.
One can only tremble with puzzlement and concern over the recent actions concerning pre-K availability in Shawville. Parents were informed that if they wished to continue the pre-K program (which has been going for over 10 years), the cost per child would be about $2,500 per year, up from $600. Worse, the parents were not given the details until September 8. The reason for the delay was that WQSB staff were on vacation. To draw the comparison with health services, would our society accept medical staff being on vacation as a reason for failing to provided needed medical treatment of child? And yet, when it comes to the intellectual well-being of children, parents are expected to accept this as a reason. 
Based on Quebec’s ministry criteria the reason for the dramatic increase in costs, which apply only to parents sending their children to the pre-K program at Shawville’s McDowell school, is that parents in Shawville have, in general, a higher educational attainment than parents in other municipalities. But how is this a fair assessment of who should be allowed to attend pre-K? Today, one has to pay significant fees for an education beyond high-school. Most parents with pre-K children who have this higher education financed it through government loans that must be paid back. Yet the WQSB assumes these parents can somehow afford these much higher costs for their children, given on such a short notice.
This affects not only the parents and students of the program, but rather our whole community.  Parents have been given a major incentive to move out,
perhaps even to another province. Is it acceptable to Shawville to lose these
families and the contribution they make to our community? Education authorities must account for the full damage their inappropriate action has made, not only on the immediate families affected, but on our entire community.