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Expelling Preschoolers

I’ve been reading and writing lots of random stuff (and buying lots of books). No time to post.

I’ve been following Neil Pollack’s weblog, which actually has turned out to be quite interesting, now that Pollack has toned down his in-your-face punk-rock pose (Btw, I met him a few times at SXSW. He has a pretty hilarious improvisational shtick). Here’s his salon.com take about preschools that expel children:

The very same day we were called in for a meeting at Elijah’s preschool, the Yale Child Study Center released a report, “Pre-kindergartners Left Behind,” which said preschool students were being expelled, across the country, at three times the rate of all students from kindergarten to 12th grade combined, and that a high percentage of them were boys. Karen Hill-Scott, an expert on “children’s development and their readiness for school,” told the New York Times: “What the data tells us, as does the show ‘Supernanny,’ is that there are a lot of out-of-control kids out there.” Yes, some of the kids are immature or even borderline violent, but there’s a reason for that: They’re kids.

The real problem here, one that the study barely addresses, is that parents, because they have to work, have no choice but to send kids to expensive, overcrowded preschools, for far more hours a week than kids are emotionally and mentally ready to handle. The waiting lists for the “best” schools are as long as those for some private high schools. Even getting accepted at second- and third-tier schools takes months. Many preschools have no reputation to protect, few standards to follow, and a long line of desperate parents at the gates, so they don’t have to deal with your kid if he or she is hard work. There’s always someone behind you waiting to pony up the $200 to $500 a month.

The survey backs this up. Expulsion rates are far higher in “faith-based” and for-profit programs than they are in Head Start schools and preschools located in public-school classrooms. Publicly funded schools have easier access to behavioral consultants, often as paid staff, who can step in to help teachers with difficult cases. But those of us who have their kids elsewhere are just shit out of luck.

Other highlights from Neil Pollack: a short story, experimenting with Drugs (the legal way), Fake Foer sightings, book recommendations for Leonard Gardner’s Fat City and Italo Calvino’s Difficult Loves (a title I’d never heard of but Pollack likes better than Cosmicomics… Better than Cosmicomics? Whoa!!!! What dope are you smoking, Neil?) . Fat City is one of those books that once you hear about you just have to read immediately (For some of my own “must read titles, check out Gerhardie’s Futility, Dorothy Scarborough’s The Wind, Felipe Alfau’s Chromos). Pollack links to Denis Johnson’s raves for Fat City, who writes “many years later, it’s still true: Leonard Gardner has something to say in every word I write.” Coming from Johnson, that’s a whale of a compliment.

Here’s Pollack’s response to the Supreme Court case upholding the ban on medical marijuana:

One of the justices, I believe it was Old Man Stevens, said that in the current system, unethical doctors can give patients more marijuana than is necessary. First of all, you can never have too much marijuana. Second of all, if the Justice didn’t notice, doctors are pretty good at slinging the drugs already.

Last year I went to the emergency room for a minor infection that was causing minor pain and they tried to shoot me with a morphine needle as long as my leg, and also gave me a big bottle of Vicodin when Advil would have sufficed. Two years ago, I went to my doctor, said I was depressed, and he had me on Wellbutrin before lunchtime. You can get Vicodin in this country for a painful zit, so don’t talk to me about doctors getting loosey-goosey with the KB.

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