`Voices Goes Public
The Buck Stops Here
Michigan's top early childhood educator has deep religious, community and family roots.
fter nine years with the Michigan
Department of Education, Lindy Buch
is finally moving from Huntington
Woods to East Lansing.
Buch's career path has taken her from preschool
teacher to top early childhood educator in the state
of Michigan. She has directed childcare centers at the
University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan
University; taken part- and full-time teaching jobs at
Detroit-based Merrill-Palmer Institute, Mercy
College and Wayne State University; led the East
Lansing-based Michigan Association for the
Education of Young Children; earned a Ph.D. and
served on the board of Oak Park's Temple Emanu-El.
Along the way, she and her husband, Ray, have
been involved parents of two children: Elana, 24,
now a graduate student at the University of
Michigan's school of social work, and Daniel, 22,
who has just completed a year traveling after his U-
"I couldn't have done it without my husband, my
parents, and my babysitting co-op," Buch said.
"The informal infrastructure of Huntington Woods
was a great support."
The Buches are not completely severing their
roots in the community. They'll come back to visit
frequently. And they'll continue their membership
at Oak Park's Temple Emanu-El, where Ray Busch
chaired the Synagogue 2000 committee and Dan
was president of the youth group.
Not Just Babysittzng
fa o &V
As supervisor of early childhood and parenting
programs for the Michigan Department of
Education, Buch is in charge of all state-run early
childhood, parent education and after-school pro-
grams for school-aged children.
She is Michigan's liaison to Federal childcare pro-
grams such as Head Start and represents the
department on state, multi-state and national com-
mittees and organizations dealing with the complex
issue of early childhood development and educa-
"The more we learn about young children, the
more we know that the early years are the most
important," Buch said.
"We can't afford as a society to ignore any stu-
dents. The bottom line is, we are going to have to
offer early childhood as part of public education
system for all children."
Nearly 40 percent of the births in Michigan are
covered by Medicaid, meaning that the parents are
poor. Frequently, these children are born to single
But poverty is a risk factor that can be overcome
with well-trained, competent teaching and active
After graduating from Berkley High, she went to
parenting. And, she pointed out, it's not the only
the University of Michigan, where she earned
bachelor's degrees in both English and elementary
Low birth weight, inattentive or frequently
education, followed by a master's degree in early
changing childcare — even being born to a parent
childhood education and special education certifi-
who isn't a reader — all these are signs that point
cation. She directed the university's childcare pro-
to trouble acquiring the academic and social skills
gram and took teaching jobs in Chelsea and
needed for success in school and later life.
"We don't need everybody to go to college, but
Fast-forward to 1979, and life in Huntington
we need everybody to be able to read to have a
job," Buch said.
"I had a little baby and my mother said, 'I don't
Language learning is a complex process, Buch
care what you do, but I'm taking the baby once a
said. As a parent, you notice your baby learning
one word; then two
Joan Firestone, now early
more; and, suddenly, _
childhood director for the
an explosion of lan-
, Oakland Schools and a steer-
guage occurs, with the
ing committee member of
toddler learning so
Federation's Alliance for
many words all at
Jewish Education, also had a
once that you can't
young child at the time. She
keep track of them.
suggested that the two women
This is such a cru-
share a job at Mercy College,
cial time," Buch said.
teaching potential teachers.
"The level of the
So, one day a week, Buch
explosion — that sud-
left Elana with her mother
den language acquisi-
and began teaching college.
tion — that's so
This went on for nine years.
important. If it
By that time, there were two
explodes lower, you
babies and a second part-time
can never get back to
"We decided when Dan
It takes consistent,
started pre-school, I'd go back
to school," Buch said.
ing childcare to nour-
She earned a Ph.D. in early
ish language develop-
childhood education at Wayne
"Language is a
"People kept telling me,
social skill, and it's
since I'd been teaching all
learned in the context Lindy Buch relaxes for a moment as she prepares to
those years, the degree was
move to East Lansing.
of a relationship,"
actually a union card," she
Buch said. "Even if
remembered. "But I really
people pay a lot for childcare, the frequency with
learned a lot."
which the caregiver changes is important. When we
In the years since Buch started her career in early
put children in centers, we move them from group
childhood education, she has seen the need for
to group. We have to be careful how, and how
quality full-day preschool education become more
often, we do this."
Society needs to "grapple with how we do non-
Seventy percent of the children below school age
in Michigan live in households where all adults
"Done correctly, it can mitigate the adverse
work full time, she said. This is true for families in
effects of bad home conditions," she said.
the wealthier areas of Oakland County as well as in
"As Jews, we have responsibility for tikkun olam
[repairing the world]," Buch said. "But I have also
Buch, 53, said she received an excellent education
been concerned about the Jewish community and
in the public schools of Detroit and Berkley.
the quality of care our children are getting while
Back when her name was Lindy Broad, she
their parents are away.
attended Bagley and Pasteur schools in Detroit. In
"As kids spend more and more time in day care
eighth grade, she transferred to Norup Junior High programs, we have to be more and more aware of
in Oak Park.
the quality of instruction they are receiving." fl