There used to be a practice in old China of binding the feet of young girls. After the wrappings were removed, the girls' feet didn't grow because their bodies weren't programed for growth at the later age. The parents wanted their daughters to have dainty feet (made them more marriageable.) The girls were handicapped for life.
In modern day America an awful lot of schoolchildren can't read or can barely read and they perform at a much lower level than their fellows. And, obviously, if they can't read worth a fig they can't write worth a fig nor can they learn worth a fig. In many cases--at the preschool ages when a child should be greatly increasing his or her vocabulary and learning language skills at home-- no one is speaking to that child or speaking very little. No one is reading to that child, or reading very little. And because of this these children have "bounds" placed on their minds at an enormously important time in their lives. By the time they're school age, they're handicapped for life.
Now, let's face it, there's an alternative view: It's nature, stupid. Inherited intelligence, don't you know. Race. That's the message I and many others received from the widely read The Bell Curve, a 1994 book by Harvard phsycholgist Richard J. Hernstein (deceased before the book was released) and American Enterprise Institute political scientist Charles Murray. The book was published without prior peer review. When I brought the book up with one one of my children, a psychology major home from college, he said: "Stop right there Dad. We studied that book thoroughly at school. It's absolutely and completely wrong." (If you google the book you will see that it generated a great deal of discussion and peer review after its publication and the book's thesis, is, I believe, thoroughly discredited.)
Former Vice President Walter Mondale writes in his memoirs (The Good Fight, Scribner, a division of Simon & Shuster, Inc., 2010, p. 96) how he and Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina held hearings and worked with Nixon administration officials at cabinet level and below cabinet level to craft a bill called the Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971. When Hollings spoke to business people about the proposed bill, "he would ask for a show of hands by those who had attended nursery school. Typically a large number would raise their hands. Hollings would say, 'So did I, and all we are talking about is making it possible for poor children to have the same opportunities we had. It's like kindergarten.'" The bill passed both houses of Congress with large, bipartisan majorities. They were oh, so close to striking a blow for equality in America. But, unknown to Senators Mondale and Hollings, the powers of darkness were about to strike.
Back in Minnesota for the holidays, Senator Mondale was stunned to received a message: "Nixon vetoed your bill." Worse than the veto was the accompanying statement accusing the bill's authors of trying to "Sovietize" American youth. As Mondale would write on page 99 of his memoirs: "He said our bill would take the responsibility of child rearing away from parents. It was plainly designed to scare people, poison the conversation about helping families, and dip into the nation's stew of cultural resentments." Columnists and "family value" interest groups rushed into the fray.
A conservative senator from New York took the to the Senate floor to allege that the legislation would undermine the family, establish the premise of family inadequacy, and encourage women to put their families into institutions of communal living. When Mondale challenged the senator to cite the provisions of the bill that would accomplish these things, the senator couldn't do it. He couldn't do it because they weren't there. But neither were the votes for veto override, and the Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971 was tossed into the dustbin of history.
I believe the next Congress should pull that old bill out, dust it off, and have another look.