Oskaloosa.com

Local News

December 29, 2010

Osky preschool teacher in favor of Branstad cut

OSKALOOSA — It’s a bit of a controversial early-education issue.

Iowa Gov.-elect Terry Branstad won’t take office until Jan. 14, 2011, but he has already criticized Gov. Chet Culver’s $90 million preschool program for 4-year-olds, saying the state should not have such control when it comes to preschool.

According to an Associated Press story, Culver said Iowans need to “give these young people the opportunity to achieve their God-given potential.”

In that same AP story, Branstad is quoted as saying that he does not support the state of Iowa being able to “take over the entire program.”

For many voters this past November, the preschool issue was the deciding factor.

Deb Rohloff, of Oskaloosa, is a preschool teacher who agrees with Branstad’s approach. She said that, after teaching preschool for 13 years, including at the Mahaska County YMCA, Culver’s statewide program would have required her to earn an early childhood education degree. Rohloff already has a bachelor’s degree in both elementary and special education, as well as masters degree in special education.

“I felt like things were fine the way they were,” explained Rohloff. “Any child that wanted to go to preschool could. There are preschool scholarships available.”

Rohloff pointed out that there is a scholarship available through the Head Start preschool program for parents of children who can’t afford preschool.

Part of why Culver’s $90 million program was put into place was to increase preschool teacher pay, said Rohloff. She said that, personally, getting minimum wage for teaching preschool was not a problem for her because she believes in the importance of what her work does for young children.

“I didn’t feel like the new steps (in Culver’s program) you need to go through were benefiting the children,” said Rohloff. “It took the fun out of teaching preschool.”

Rohloff currently runs a preschool for 4- and 5-year-olds out of her home at 400 Preston Dr., where she prepares five children for kindergarten according to state guidelines in place before Culver’s additional program, which is optional for parents.

“I’m trying to prepare them by learning letters and numbers and social studies and going on field trips,” Rohloff. “There’s also a social aspect of being around other children that’s needed. They learn how to follow directions and just get ready for kindergarten.”

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Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at news2@oskyherald.com

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