Monday, March 26, 2007

Much Ado about Daycare

In a stupid piece in the New York Times today
we learn that children who go to daycare are most likely to become fiends later on. Or to be precise:

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.
What a crock. I mean, come on, man. Do we really need this sort of study? I should add that the above quote was followed immediately by the following:
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.
Okay. I don't even know where to begin. For the first time in the history of my blog, Crabmommy is stunned into seriousness by this absolute ridiculosity.

So first they hit us with this alarmist headline and opener about daycare. Then they, ahem, mention that within their negative results, they noted the "disruptive" effect is "slight" and in fact "well within the normal range." All this after making preposterous and highly specific claims about daycare "effects" lasting through the sixth grade.

One of the many questions I ask: how d'ya PROVE that bratty bully's attitude has to with the daycare of his young years? And if all this disruption is "well within normal range" then why bother drawing abnormal attention to it by disseminating the info so that the New York Bloody Times runs a big piece on it?

Also, love this sentence: "And as expected, parents’ guidance and their genes had by far the strongest influence on how children behaved." I see. Parents...had BY FAR the strongest influence. But this is discreetly tucked at the end of the second paragraph. (I would, by the way, LOVE to see the tests and stats that match a kid's picking his nose and wiping it on the blackboard with a GENETIC imperative. Show the me the DNA!!)

You know, I could crab on forever with this one but this study really doesn't deserve it. I mean, yes, there are bad daycares from whose care-less care neglected kids learn to be nasty little WANKERS in class. But there are also good daycares, where patient saints calmly instruct your disruptive Crabtot to sit on the Time-Out Grizzly bear, whereas back home, Crabmommy just yells and then feels bad about it. Now if Crabtot becomes a naughty disruptive badtot through the SIXTH grade, can we really blame her daycare?

What gets me most peppery about this sort of thing is the overall alarmist and futile vibe of it. Even if were 100% provable that daycare makes kids disruptive, what the dilly is a working, non-nanny-affording mom meant to do about it?

Equally stupid: the piece goes on to say exactly how all the mitigating factors mitigate the findings of the study. A study that I might add costs $200 million and is financed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. And now they're going to track these disruptive sixth graders through high school, apparently. I see. No doubt at another 200 mill.

Here's another suggestion: take the money you would have spent tracking those kids and give it to their parents. Maybe they can all take a nice vacation together and GET AWAY from studies negatively reinforcing something that working parents already have to feel guilty about.

Nice work, National Institute of Child Health. I'm just glad that daycare is tax-deductible -- i.e., less money for the NICH-whatever to conduct research. Honestly. What a lot of bloody hoo-ha.


grunnio corocotta said...

People rarely do more to prove their unworthiness to live than when they open their yaps about causality. To be fair, the evolution/creation people probably take the cake here (pox on both their houses), but the what's-to-blame-for-little-X doing Y people are a close second. (And won't you feel guilty if little X ends up doing Y because you didn't do Z?)

Shifting down from rant for a moment, I suspect you've hit the nail on the head; there's an economic current that washes kids up on the shores of daycare, and if you look at all the kids in all the daycares in the nation you'll see a swath of underprivilege there that isn't found as much among the ones who can afford other solutions (a nanny, or a parent who can stay home). Common sense doesn't have far to go to connect the dots to higher incidence of misbehavior.

Crabmommy said...

You speak my speak. We speak each other's speak. That piece put a bee in my bonnet to be sure. Glad you and I see eye to eye. I always await your comments with high interest. I find you very eloquent...and somehow familiar. Your phrasing sometimes seems like mine. Only you are much, much smarter than I am. How do I knwo this? because the Crabmom is DEEPLY INTUITIVE.