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February 21, 2013 at 7:00 AM

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President Obama's early childhood education expansion proposal

Children in difficult home environments need special attention

Why is that no one considers the home and social experiences of young children when discussing educational success and failure [“A worthy push for early education,” Opinion, Feb. 17]? I’m referring to situations of abuse, severe neglect or chaos.

Early learning goals, like all educational strategies, do not offer an effective way to cope with the serious problems that many children are born or thrust into. If we really wanted to improve children’s lives, we would figure out how to get rid of drug abuse. We would address economic inequities. We would have better mental-health care and look at the reasons for the school-to-prison pipeline. Schools need to treat children more like developing human beings than as scores on a report card or standardized test while evaluating teachers by these scores.

I have worked in K-8 schools and also once worked in a child crisis nursery, where children (babies and up to age 7 or 8) were literally dumped by parents or the system. Many were already ruined — there is no other word for it. If you are familiar with Department of Social and Health Services cases, you will understand. It is easy to pontificate from the outside.

When we wonder about school shooters, before the worst happening, who has taken the time to get to know them, to learn about and care for their inner struggles, much less obtain counseling? The world will never be perfect, of course, but we could do better!

--Kathryn Keve, Bainbridge Island

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