Our most valuable resource
Dear Editor:Last week, this community was privileged to hear Dr. Bruce Perry at the Vilar Art Center in Beaver Creek. Dr, Perry is internationally recognized and renowned for his longitudinal research and practice on brain development. Among his messages, two stood out:One was on the importance of early childhood in providing a basis for competent adulthood. He showed a video of a pre-teen girl who had been raised with dogs and assumed all their characteristics. When finally placed in a normal environment, researchers found she could be taught to read; the cortex of her brain showed less impairment. They could not, however, make any impact on her social/emotional development – her ability to relate to people and to function in a normal environment was severely damaged. This graphic description of the importance of relationship-based early experiences reinforces the need for high-quality early childhood centers.The second was a graphic visual of how public funds are expended in the interest of children. The graph showed an almost straight, diagonal line with the least amount of money earmarked for the early years and the most at college/university levels. This needs careful reconsideration and community thought in the light of the brain development research.In November, Eagle County residents will have an opportunity to vote on Amendment 1A, which will provide public funds to help raise the quality of early childhood programs in Eagle County. We have known for years that the quality of the program depends on the quality of the teacher. We need teachers who not only love being with children, but also know and understand growth progressions; teachers who know how to plan and implement stimulating, intriguing environments; teachers who know how to plan programs based on children’s strengths and most absorbing interests not on their deficits; teachers who know how to document growth/development through narrative/descriptive data; teachers who know how to work with parents, who understand that child care centers are supplements to not substitutes the child’s home.These teachers need to be paid a livable wage – a wage commensurate with the background and experience. It is sinful, in a rich community like ours, that maids, cleaning women and gardeners earn more than the teachers. If we really mean it when we refer to children as “our most valuable natural resource.” it’s time to prove it.Vote yes on 1A on Election Day.Bertha CampbellRetired, Chief Bureau Child Development and Parent EducationNYC Education Dept.Basalt
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