PARENTS AS TEACHERS: WHAT IS IT?
Parents as teachers. A program that was pioneered in Missouri by then Governor Christopher Bond (now a U.S. Senator), could be found in 40 states by 1991. It sounds good, but what is it?
According to researchers who studied the program in Missouri, the following is a typical situation: A parent teacher is assigned to your family shortly after your child is born. Through numerous visits and constant contact, they gain your trust and bond with your family. They offer you help. They monitor progress. They file reports.
One former U.S. Health Department consultant put it this way, "Both parents are (periodically) evaluated ... The child is given a personal computer number by which they can be tracked the rest of their lives. There are twelve computer code definitions which label a child "at risk". Since the expectation is every child will be found 'mentally ill', there is no code for normal."
Within GOALS: 2000, Parents as Teachers is an officially funded program, found under Title 4, Section 402(a)(2)(J). Within this Title, it is allowed to "use part of the funds received under this title to establish, expand or operate Parents as Teachers (PAT) programs or Home Instruction for Preschool Youngsters (HIPY) programs". (Preschool is defined as birth to 5 years old.) Section 405(2) provides personal visits, screenings and in-home instruction to parents of children 3 to 5 years of age. Although parents are not "required to participate" (Section 407), given the above scenario, how many people do you know that will turn down something that is "free", just to check out its legitimacy? Most people stop thinking after the word "free" is spoken.
Everything within these programs (PAT and HIPY) is "child-centered" and not geared to helping you as you are lead to believe. The focus is on complete freedom for your child. Let him choose what he feels is best for himself. The child is lead to grow up thinking he can do what he wants. Parental control or discipline is often considered too restrictive and oppressive. This is exactly the type of philosophy that is being taught through many Outcome Based Education (OBE) programs already in use. It leads to kids who lack discipline, respect, and responsibility.
Another danger is in having these "helpers" invading the privacy of your home. They not only monitor your progress with your child (and other children present), they "evaluate" your home. In most cases, your government appointed "helper" will have beliefs contrary to mainstream America, using a psychological and humanistic approach. Parents can lose control of raising their own children! They will have to obey the directive of their "helper" or risk facing the consequences.
One of the consequences that parents would face is not being able to spank (correct) or tell their child no, as this can be considered "repressive and destructive" to your child. What is even scarier is that your child can be labeled "at risk" for any of the following reasons (these are but a few of many):
• slow growth, poor appetite or frequent illness.
• having a parent "unable" to cope with inappropriate child behavior, such as
using spanking as a form of discipline.
• having a parent who is ill, heavy, tired, handicapped, or appears to be of
"low level" intelligence.
• stress on the family, undue spoiling of the child, a parent who travels too
much, loss of a job, or low-level income.
If none of the above are found, the "helper" is instructed to look for allergies, heavy cigarette smoking, a family history of hearing loss, or lack of or over stimulation.
All of these things, and more, are found on their Parent as Teachers training forms!
Parents as Teachers is touted as a means of preventing child abuse, as a way to prepare children early for the rigors of education that await them and as a means of "protecting" children from parents that "cannot" take care of them, according to someone else's standards! "Trust us," they say! Senator Christopher Bond of Missouri, a staunch defender of PAT's, acknowledged the potential for abuse, but said, "well, I would hope that wouldn't happen." Hope? Given past examples of touted programs gone bad, i.e.; welfare, social security and the federal educational grant and loan program; can we put our trust in their hope?
1. Freedom Club Report, August 1992.
2. Citizens for Excellence in Education (CEE) President's Letter, November 1994.
The February 1995 issue of the
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Lancaster, CA 93534.