An Early Education Challenge For The Cato Institute
I recently came across this video about Early Childhood Education costs published on The Cato Institute’s (a libertarian think tank) Facebook Page ( The Picture that goes along with this article is a screen shot from that Facebook post)
One of their main arguments is that high student to teacher ratios results in a higher cost for child care. I 100 percent agree with this. However, they also argue that this means we should lower or even do away with minimum staff to child ratios. I would agree that this would lower cost... but... it completely ignores reality of why these ratios exist. This is a case when theoretical knowledge needs to be augmented by real world experience. I therefore give anyone at The Cato Institute this challenge. Spend, some time volunteering an an early education center. I am not saying this as flippant taunt. I am saying this because no study or research that does not also include experience with a large group of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers can fully understand what working in early education is actually like.
Here is an example of what I mean:
When a fire alarm goes off, many young children start freaking out. When young children see their peers freaking out, they often freak out too ( freaking out is a well researched technical term). There is no way to understand what is like to be around a bunch of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers freaking out when a fire alarm goes off when it’s your job to get them all to safety by reading about it or researching it from a far. You have to experience something like that first hand or you will always have a disconnect between the research and policy proposals and reality.
This is not just about Cato. I’ve read more articles and books about early childhood education than I can count at this point. I’ve read government regulations, guidelines and policy proposals about ECE. It is always easy to tell when researchers and policy makers even when their hearts are in the right place and when they have done vigorous research have not spent any time in an early education classroom. This is why we need more early educators to become researchers and policy makers. Time spend in an early education classroom is invaluable qualitative field work research. This is not to say that quantitive or theoretical qualitative research has no value for ECE. It does. It just needs to be informed by the realty of the day to day education and care needs of young children.