Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Oh, These Horrible "First 5" Ads!

I'm a little off-subject tonight (well, not really), but I have a real problem with politicians, feminists and ad agency "creatives" that try to make stay-at-home moms feel unworthy.

I've been flipping since my daughter and I saw several "First 5" pro-preschool ads from the California Children & Families Commission. The ads, funded by a 50-cent-a-pack tax on cigarettes, are supposed to do something good for children, but by encouraging pre-school, they're doing anything but. Pre-school can be a better alternative than being left and ignored, but these ads aren't about that -- they're about pre-school being the best choice for your kids!

The worst ad of all is one in which two cops tell the viewer that unless their kids go to preschool, they're probably going to end up in the back of a patrol car. Here's the State of California telling kids and parents that the state's programs are better than family! That unless we subscribe to their idea of child-rearing, our kids will end up in jail!

All the ads hurt my daughter's feelings, but the cop one was the worst. "I felt like I wasn't good enough for anything, for school or college -- like I wouldn't be able to do anything," she told me.

This from a girl who entered kindergarten reading at a third-grade level, and now they're telling her that she's not as good as preschoolers? She was proud of what she learned at "Mommy School," and so was I. What do these people at "First 5" think they're doing by attacking stay-at-home kids and their stay-at-home parents?

And why is First 5 urging parents to send their toddlers to preschool while the Office of Drug Control Policy says that parents are the anti-drug? I've been working for three years to get parents more involved with their children -- that's why I made Voice of the Victims: True Stories of Ecstasy & Ketamine -- and nearly everyone else in drug education feels the same way: Parental involvement is key.

And it starts as early as preschool ... even earlier, at birth, at conception!! At when you start thinking about having kids!!

I'm not alone. Here's a few pertinent paragraphs from an opinion piece that ran this weekend in the Fresno Bee. Click through, and be sure to read the whole thing.

Preschool is not a magic pill for all little children

I was recently asked a question about preschool and whether I thought children are better off as a result of it. The question was sparked by the most current stream of First Five of California commercials, whose slogans include:

"Preschool, the benefits are impressive."

"Preschool makes kids more likely to go to college."

"Preschool gives children a better chance in life."

As an early-childhood professional who has used the data to support the claims of high-quality preschool to secure funding for early care and education projects, I still have to say that my response to the preschool question is, unequivocally, no. ...

I find myself drawn to the most recent spread of Phillip Morris commercials because they speak to me, a loving concerned parent. Their grand slogan: "Talk to your kids, they'll listen."

I find myself thinking that First Five of California could learn something from Phillip Morris. How ironic. Phillip Morris encourages me to talk to my children, and First Five of California tells me I am a failure if I don't send my children to preschool. Something is wrong with this ad campaign.

Something is wrong indeed! There's no guarantee kids will turn out all right, survive the wars of peer pressure, or not be the victims of someone else's stupidy. But being raised in a close, loving environment with parents gives kids a better chance than being dumped off at pre-school!

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