Monday, March 26, 2007

More Bad News for Daycare

Not surprisingly, the largest and longest-running study of children in childcare keeps making the case for SAHMs.

A much-anticipated report from the largest and longest-running study of American child care has found that keeping a preschooler in a day care center for a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class — and that the effect persisted through the sixth grade...

But the finding held up regardless of the child’s sex or family income, and regardless of the quality of the day care center. With more than two million American preschoolers attending day care, the increased disruptiveness very likely contributes to the load on teachers who must manage large classrooms, the authors argue.

I couldn't help but remember those silly Pandagonistas who attacked me for pointing out that staying home is better for one's children and that I "didn't want someone else raising my children." They really blew a gasket when I told them that it really and truly was possible to afford for a parent to stay home and that to say most SAHMs (including well-off, well-educated moms) did not "freely choose" to stay home was ridiculous.

Yes, at Pandagon, you will find the career women who bare their fangs at the slightest hint that they've put raising their children on the back burner while they pursue their careers, even if what you said was what you decided and that you weren't saying anything about their choices.

I also thought about a little discussed section of Bernard Goldberg's book Bias. The section is one of several chapters on subjects the MSM doesn't cover or covers in a one-sided manner. Daycare is one of those subjects. Just read that excerpted portion of the NYT article I linked to above. See the ellipses? That's because I left out this graf, which gives cover to people who stick their kids in daycare.
The effect was slight, and well within the normal range for healthy children, the researchers found. And as expected, parents’ guidance and their genes had by far the strongest influence on how children behaved.

In Bias, Goldberg points out the controversial nature of daycare, particularly as it is done in the U.S. but how the MSM doesn't want to cover daycare like they cover, say, the military budget. He is correct, of course. The MSM is invested in the idea that children raised in daycare do as well or better than children raised by their parents. This might have something to do with the fact that in order to advance your career in journalism, you will probably work a boatload of hours every week and newspapers (among other media outlets) aren't family-friendly places.

Goldberg doesn't argue for or against daycare; he simply argues that MSM should do more to cover daycare issues evenhandedly. I agree with that. Daycare is a fact of modern life for a lot of people, some of whom could stay home if they chose, and others who cannot. IMO, putting lipstick on the pig that is daycare doesn't change the fact it is a pig. But until we accept the notion that daycare is not the best choice for raising kids, we can't go about fixing the problem. Nor can we find ways to help parents cope with the problems daycare tends to create. By denying that children left in daycare for 8-12 hours a day present problems that other children to not, we do those children (and their parents) a disservice.

The Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development has been going on for more than a decade and tracks children in a variety of childcare situations. Unfortunately for the daycare lobby, the study has been consistently bad for them. Without fail, every time a new report is released, it points to the problems daycare creates for children. While the NYT article tries to say such problems are "slight," I doubt seriously that a teacher with 22 students, 5 of whom are disruptive, would think the problem is "slight."

We need to come to grips with the problems daycare presents. Daycare is here to stay. That doesn't mean we have to pretend that there aren't consequences of that.

Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.