Kids need heroes who will speak out for them

By JUDY LYDEN, Scripps Howard News Service

Here's a challenging little quiz:
1. Name one prominent newsmaker from the profession of early childhood.
2. Name a best-selling author who writes books about early childhood.
3. Name a national spokesman for early childhood.
4. Name a single organization that involves early childhood.
5. Name a study that was done about early childhood.
6. What is your congressman's, senator's, governor's positions on early childhood education?
Essay: What is early childhood?
If this were a 200-point quiz, with every question being worth 25 points and the essay worth 50, I would probably score 100 points, which would still give me an F at 50 percent.
But if you curved the grades, I'd probably get an A. That's because nobody can answer most of the questions. There aren't news-breaking names in early childhood because unlike the exciting and important essentials such as Hollywood and football, the education and rearing of children are really pretty dull and unimportant.
Who is going to listen to someone yammering on about 6-year- olds and the windows of opportunity, or 3-year-olds and expanding brains or the habits of the fearsome four?
Early childhood isn't a priority for the general public and hasn't been for a very long time. It's pretty simple: Kid care is grunt work.
Early childhood hasn't been able to get a foothold on attention in popular culture. It is difficult to get people to care that the link between learning and knowledge is made in the early childhood years. The way we learn makes or breaks our ability to integrate knowledge and use it for the rest of our lives.
A successful tour of childhood either enables or minimizes the outcome of our adult years. So what are we doing to the kids?
When nothing is the basic ingredient of a child's life, do we actually believe that someplace along the line -- at 9 or 10 or 15 or 20 -- a child hindered by a lack of adult interest will suddenly become a Renaissance man?
Today's child is cocooned by a straitjacket world of TV and an insidious boredom. His best hope looks dim at best.
There are no household names for early childhood.
Kids need heroes who will speak out for them and defend their lives.

(Judy Lyden operates a pre-school in Evansville, Ind. Write to her c/o The Evansville Courier, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, IN 47702, or e-mail her at jlyden(at)evansville.net.)