Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ed Kemmick still strains against the harness

An entire generation of Billings Gazette readers is developing whose foray into the Sunday paper begins not with the comics or the sports section, but with City Lights -- Ed Kemmick's weekly tour de force of humor, common sense, and a nose for things that are absurd but sadly true.

He's also a solid citizen whose love for his city is obvious both in his writing and in his community involvement. At the risk of ruining his reputation, he's the kind of liberal that honest conservatives like, respect, and enjoy having a beer with. Hence, on this middle-of-the-road website (which apparently leans "decidedly to the right" according to Big Sky Blog), City Lights has been on the links menu from day one.

Montana Headlines was thus pleased, but not entirely surprised, to read Kemmick's recent blog-post, A half day here, a half day there…

In four short paragraphs, Kemmick summarizes a case for why he "can’t bring (himself) to like the idea of all-day kindergarten," probably doing a better job than will anyone in Helena of explaining why kindergarten is not about learning, but about "'socialization,' a fancy way of saying that the sooner children learn to relax under harness, the better for all concerned." He furthermore goes on to ask a logical question (which, when asked by Republicans elicits from most Democrats one of those "and-you-wonder-why-we-call-you-Neanderthals" looks): "does that mean children who go to all-day pre-school, starting at the age of 3 or 4, later perform better than kids who start their education in kindergarten?"

He says he hasn't read any of the studies on which experts base their positions for kindergarten, but Montana Headlines suspects that even with the cursory review done on this site, he would probably stick with his initial visceral response.

Now, Kemmick is not advocating a policy position so much as he is making a case (whether this is his intent or not) for parents to exercise their right not to send their children to kindergarten. How anyone could read the tortured flashbacks of a "51-year-old man who still feels, acutely and as if it were yesterday, the injustice of being pushed from a life of carefree savagery into the clutches of the education system" and still plan to do that to their own child?

The value of kindergarten is a point of contention within the Montana Headlines editorial staff, but Kemmick's piece explained a lot to the present writer, who is kindergartenly challenged. One at long last understands the reasons for one's lack of educational attainment, failure to master the English language, and general lack of intelligence: too few afternoon "naps" on the floor at age 5.