LAURINBURG — Already mounting a campaign for election to the office of N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2016, Rosemary Stein hopes to change what she characterizes as an education system that is fundamentally incompatible with children’s neurological development.
Stein, an Alamance County pediatrician and founder of the International Family Clinic in Burlington, spoke to about 25 members of the Scotland County Republican Party on Monday.
“I’m here to message to parents about the importance of raising our children, and that’s what I hope to do more than anything else,” she said. “More than just run for an office, what I’m looking to do is to be able to change the lives of our children.”
Stein outlined the evolution of parenting methods over the last 50 years, and hypothesized that many children enter school unprepared to learn due to child-centric parenting methods. She described a child that is ready to learn as “a child that’s able to sit still, follow directions, and pay attention.”
Stein herself is a native of New York, but as a teenager returned to the Dominican Republic, where she tutored students in her mother’s private school. She completed high school in Montreal, Quebec, and as a result offers services in English, Spanish, and French.
She is an adjunct professor in the medical schools at the University of North Carolina, Wake Forest University, and East Carolina University. She is a former Alamance Community College trustee and curriculum chair, and also serves on the N.C. Partnership for Children board and the Superintendent’s Graduation Task Force.
According to Stein, Common Core and digital learning should be replaced with classical education, and the early years of education refocused to teaching children how to learn.
“When education is done properly, there is a methodology to it,” she said. “You understand that the child’s development functions this way, and that learning is done best when it’s done this way, because that’s how the child’s brain develops.”
Stein accused Common Core of wasting the optimal window of opportunity for children to obtain basic phonics and reading skills by challenging them to analyze the themes of stories before they’re fully capable of doing so. The case is similar, she said, in mathematics.
“The way that children learn intuitively is by learning their math facts,” she said. “That’s why you can say, your whole life, seven times seven, and 49 just pops into your head and you’ll never be able to take that away. But Common Core takes it from that to trying to figure it out right from the beginning.”
Efforts in the state’s public schools to put laptops and tablets in the hands of more and more children, Stein said, fly in the face of best practices considering child development. As a pediatrician, Stein recommends that children spend less than two hours each day in front of an electronic screen.
“They go in there and the reluctantly pull themselves out,” Stein said of virtual environments. “They find it very hard to differentiate one world from the other. They’re actually making emotional relationships with those people instead of mom, dad, the teacher. They learn differently.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.