Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 60 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

Papa Obama

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   No comments
Message Werner Lange

In his heart-felt State of the Union address, delivered on Lincoln's birthday anniversary, President Obama issued a call "to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America".  Then on Valentine's Day, he outlined the specifics of this educational reform which, among other positive things, calls for universal full-day kindergarden and a massive expansion of quality preschool programs for all American children.  This is unprecedented.  No other U.S. President has ever taken the initiative to direct national attention on the vital importance of early childhood education and directly push for new public policy to address its current woeful state.

It is certainly refreshing and potentially revolutionary for Uncle Sam to appear as Papa Obama, a father in the White House determined to give birth to a new child-centered public policy. As a popular educational slogan critically expresses it, a mind is a terrible thing to waste; and by its longstanding neglect of quality early childhood education for all, America has been wasting or withering millions of minds in the making and leaving countless children behind.

No child is born with a mind, the reservoir of symbols, and unless nurtured in a rich symbol environment no mind in the making develops its full potential.   Deprivation of symbolic interaction is to the mind what oxygen deprivation is to the brain -- simply devastating.   That deprivation and devastation have been the rule not the exception for far too many American children for far too long.   This must end, and if Papa Obama's presidential initiative does not fall victim to political infanticide, it will end and a new era for America will begin.

   Make no mistake about the magnitude of this unprecedented presidential initiative.   It is not only about raising the quality of education and enculturation for young children. It is about raising the quality of life for us all and creating a future for America better than all her pasts.

   After all, what are the roots of productivity and creativity, the sources of our national well-being?   Ultimately they are found in the developing minds of young children, the poorest age group in the richest country on earth.   And therein lies the crisis and the challenge.

   Material poverty and symbol poverty are two sides of the same coin, one that we do not invest in children.   Studies have shown that by age 3 there is a significant correlation between class and vocabulary with affluent children mastering over twice as many words as their impoverished counterparts.   Poor children are comparatively more likely to have learning disabilities and other health problems; receive lower grades in school; score lower on proficiency tests; finish high school less; and end up in prison more.   Maintaining an army of some 13 million impoverished American children is conservatively estimated to annually cost the U.S. economy about $500 billion in lost productivity.   The presidential initiative on early childhood education has the potential to reverse and overcome these dismal facts.

   Study after study consistently demonstrates the positive impact good early childhood education has on quality of life and quantity of productivity in adulthood.   For every dollar invested in quality early childhood education there is an estimated return of $4-$11 in benefits to our society.   Nevertheless, we foolishly neglect to meaningfully invest in our children during their foundational years.   At the root of material and symbolic childhood poverty lies an abysmal poverty of public policy on early childhood education. The presidential initiative is designed to abolish that public policy poverty in America.   It certainly is, as Papa Obama, also said, "something we should be able to do", a statement that was greeted with partial applause in the halls of Congress and the homes of America.   Now is the time to turn that conditional applause into concrete action for our children, our country and our future.



Werner Lange, PhD

Adjunct Professor of Sociology

University of Akron



Well Said 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Werner Lange Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and an ordained Christian minister. Participant in the Viva Palestina humanitarian mission to Gaza. Independent candidate for US Congress in 1986, 1992 and 2006.
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Justice Under Siege: Enter The Supreme Disaster

Haiti and the Cross of a Crucified People

Paddock as Prufrock on Steroids

Set Gaza Free

Papa Obama

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend