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Germaine Erbele, LaMoure, N.D., Published March 09 2013

Letter: Anti-child legislators disappoint

I have been a resident of North Dakota all my life. For 60 years, I have seen things that have thrilled me about our state, and at other times things that disgust me. The anti-child measures in the Legislature are examples.

I was a teacher for 36 years. I saw how family dynamics changed over time. When I first started, many mothers were at home caring for children. Kindergarten was a time of learning to play with others, how to sit, recognize your name when written, and start to learn the alphabet. Each parent paid a quarter a week to buy their children a carton of milk in the afternoon, knowing the importance of calcium in their diet. The children went home to a mother who had a snack ready, helped with homework, made supper, read to them, gave them a bath and put them to bed. The father was busy working, so you didn’t expect to see many come to parent/teacher conferences or afternoon plays.

Fast forward to the 21st century:

In today’s family, both parents need to work. Prices have skyrocketed so in order to care for their children, they may even need a couple of jobs to make ends meet. They love their children and want the best for them, but they need a little help.

Day cares are expensive, and finding good ones can be a challenge. Some day cares try to give children additional things to help them learn, and nutritious food; some just dump them in front of the TV and give them processed meals. In order to pay for day care, young families may have to skip on something like clothes, or even at the end of the month a nutritious meal. They are taking responsibility for their children.

Fathers and mothers come to parent/teacher conferences. Both spend as much time as they have being with their children, loving and caring for them.

In our small town, we are blessed to have a preschool, one preschool, that is limited in the number of children accepted and costs a fee. Children need to be signed up basically the minute they are born to possibly get in when they get to be three.

Parents know the importance of those early years. Teachers can tell the difference between the ones that attend and the ones that don’t.

So, not only do parents need to pay for a full day of day care but also for preschool so their children will not fall behind in school. Kindergarten has become what first grade was when I first started teaching; they can read once they leave kindergarten.

North Dakota is not child friendly. We expect more and more of young families, and yet we cannot afford to fund an extra carton of milk in the afternoon? We cannot fund preschool because, “When will parents accept their responsibility toward their children?” They are. A better question is “When will North Dakota accept some responsibility for children and young families?

We hear of the huge surplus we have in the state, but not one cent for the youngest residents? I think it is ironic that the state is so against abortion, but doesn’t care about children who have been born. Sad, sad situation.