Santorum Opposes Early Childhood Education

Longshot GOP presidential candidate hopeful Rick Santorum says he is opposed to early-childhood education programs because they are our government’s attempt to “indoctrinate your children.” Speaking before about 20 people at the Perry Public Library on Tuesday, Santorum said:

“It is a parent’s responsibility to educate their children. It is not the government’s job. We have sort of lost focus here a little bit. Of course, the government wants their hands on your children as fast as they can. That is why I opposed all these early starts and pre-early starts, and early-early starts. They want your children from the womb so they can indoctrinate your children as to what they want them to be. I am against that.”

Santorum also said that “We need to get the federal government out of that business” of educating children and demand that the US’s “educational establishment … start meeting the needs of their child, not children.” As Santorum then elaborated,

“Obviously, socialists love children, just like they love people in groups of one million or more.”

Santorum, who was a US Senator for 12 years before being defeated in 2006, has said that he and his wife, Karen, are or will be home-schooling their seven children through the eighth grade.

Early childhood education is the sort of thing most people find hard to dispute. Think Progress cites a number of studies pointing to the benefits — educational but also for children’s health — of federal programs like Head Start. Preschool has been shown to have long-term benefits including economic ones to taxpayers.

Santorum’s censure of early childhood education stands out even more as, in 2005 while he was in the US Senate, he helped to sponsor the Combating Autism Act (CAA). The CAA was passed in August of 2006 and allocated $950 million in spending over five years on for research about autism, screening and diagnosis and education and treatment. In particular, it called for the following:

Commitment of $75 million a year by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), for each of the next five years, for grants for states to develop autism screening, diagnosis, and intervention programs, and to create statewide screening systems to ensure all children are screened for autism by the age of two.

In other words, the CAA specifically called for early childhood education in the form of early intervention of young children, after screening and diagnosis of, again, young children. The CAA also called for the National Institutes of Health to increase the number of Centers for Excellence on Autism from 8 to 10. The CAA — which must be renewed by September 30 if funding is to continue for autism research and programs– specifically requested that the government take on a significant role not only in identifying but in assisting in the education of young autistic children.

Santorum was speaking about early childhood education in general. But the whole idea of “early intervention” and of early childhood services is near and dear to the hearts of families with autistic children and children with disabilities. Hearing one of the original sponsors of the CAA say he opposes the one thing that parents, medical professionals, teachers and advocates agree is essential to giving a child with disabilities a solid start in life, raises the question if Santorum’s quite forgotten about the CAA and the benefits to young children it so clearly outlines.

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140 comments

Mark Bill
Past Member about a year ago

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Past Member about a year ago

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Annie R.
Annie R.4 years ago

Grace A. a few messages below my original comment said kids under the age of 3 are unable to be.educated.

William Y.
William Y.4 years ago

@ Sammy S. O, I agree that some parents would be able to home-school their children well, but the majority wouldn't. There is a lot more to teaching besides knowledge & dedication. What do you do when the child asks a question that you can't answer. Do you have the time to research it or do you simply sluff off the question?

Sammy S.
Sammy S.4 years ago

@William Y.. Homeschooling is not just about ability. It's about dedication too. There are programs to help the parents provide the proper course work. I don't think I'd have the energy for such an undertaking, but I've seen fantastic results from those who have done it.

Sammy S.
Sammy S.4 years ago

@Annie R.. Who said children below 3 cannot be educated??

William Y.
William Y.4 years ago

@ Annie R. I fully agree. As for parents homeschooling, IMHO, most parents' homeschooling abilities would be equivalent to my teaching Nuclear Physics at MIT, which I would be totally unqualified to.

Annie R.
Annie R.4 years ago

The idea that children below 3 can not be educated is completely FALSE!!!

As an early childhood teacher I can attest to this.
I work with 2-3 year old children.

Let me say that first of all it is important to realizing that I am NOT A GLORIFIED BABYSITTER, but also it is not just about "educating" children, meaning that I just teach them about reading, writing, math, etc. It is ALL about socialization, manners, empathy, patience, and so much more!

As far as education goes my 2 yr old students know all about the seasons, about animals in different habitats, can say the alphabet, count to 10 in 4 different languages, 20 in two languages, and know how to spell their names (and most, if not all of their friends names) and can identify them!

These are mostly two years old! Early education is also great to help identify children with special needs who would greatly benefit from early intervention services to give them a boost in their development. And let's be honest, this can not be easily done at home. Not every parents knows the red flags and having honest and loving and knowledgable teachers can only HELP the children!

Mary Beth M.
Mary Beth M.4 years ago

Homeschooling requires a definitive degree of commitment, educational background and curriculum development, to which many parents are unqualified and unable to do. Homeschooling also does not provide adequate socialization of children. You would think we were sending our kids off to madrasahs... My word, this man just gets weirder and weirder...

Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold4 years ago

Give me a break. They need the early learning not just for book learning, but for socitial learning. If we don't give them a chance like Nursery School and Kindergarten, we are stunting their growth in all areas.