Sunday, February 26, 2006

“Pre-School for All” Isn’t Just Expensive, It Doesn’t Work Either

The policy analysis below was written by The Illinois Policy Institute.

PRE-SCHOOL FOR ALL FALLS SHORT
“Pre-School for All” Isn’t Just Expensive, It Doesn’t Work Either

(Springfield, Ill.) “Pre-school for All” is expensive, ineffectual and probably inappropriate. Yet, one wouldn’t have known it, listening to the Governor’s February 15 budget address. Early childhood education in Illinois should be expanded, the Governor dramatically announced.. It is proper, he declared, that state government undertake this enterprise. And he has asked the General Assembly to extend to all the state’s three-and-four year-olds access to the public education system, in the form of voluntary preschool.

Illinois would ‘lead the nation,’ in this effort. It would surpass even the expansive state-sponsored preschool programs already years underway in New York and Georgia. Illinois would be the first state, and Rod Blagojevich the first governor, to open its and his state’s doors of public schools to toddlers.

Illinois must welcome into the fold of government-education this responsibility, he said. Gone unmentioned though, was that early childhood education – especially in the form of preschool – has yet to have been proven to have the effects commonly presumed. One must trust that the governor’s office has consulted the wide and differing body of professional opinion in the matter, being as that they at least allude to “countless studies.” [1]

If this were the case, one must assume that the governor – in touting the benefits of his proposal – is not telling the whole truth. If the Governor, given his apparent passion for the issue, had undertaken to study the matter, he could not have helped but notice that Early Childhood Education is as contentious as any. “Countless,” his office has claimed, are the studies that have demonstrated the benefits of preschool. [2]

Equally numerous, though, are the claims that early formal education is ineffectual and that it can even be harmful to a child’s development. So insufficient is the evidence to support initiatives such as the governor’s, that "No authority in the field of child psychology, pediatrics, or child psychiatry

advocates formal education, in any domain, of infants and young children. In fact, the weight of solid professional opinion opposes it." [3]


To read the rest of the policy analysis go to The Illinois Policy Institute.

Please contact your representative and senator and tell them to vote "NO" on pre-school for all. If you need assistance contacting your representative or senator go to WLS Radio -- Legislative Action Center.

1 comment:

Jim and Cathy Peschke said...

A tangled web they weave.

Joanne Jacobs (writer and teacher) has a great piece on her BLOG about universal preschool.

False promise

Universal preschool would cost Californians $23 billion over the next 10 years, if Rob Reiner's Proposition 82 passes. But it won't close the learning gap for poor kids, warns Bruce Fuller, a Berkeley education and public policy professor. Currently, 64 percent of four-year-olds go to preschool; Reiner's plan would boost that only to 70 percent. Instead of directing public money at needy families, most of the dollars would go to provide free preschool to middle-class and wealthy parents. Any gains by poor children are likely to be lost when they enter substandard schools.

We are learning empirically that gains experienced by poor children who attend preschool fade by third grade unless youngsters enter quality elementary schools, according to new studies by UC-Santa Barbara and University of Wisconsin economists.

Fuller also questions the requirement that all preschool teachers earn a bachelor's degree. This would disqualify two-thirds of current preschool teachers.

. . . two decades of research show that children benefit when their teachers have a two-year degree and focused training in child development. After that, more years in college are spent on general education requirements, exerting no additional effects. Only the cost rises dramatically.

When class sizes were cut, raising demand for elementary teachers, affluent suburban districts hired qualified teachers, leaving the less qualified to fill slots in city schools. Under Proposition 82, that will be repeated for preschool teachers, Fuller predicts. Poor kids will lose.

To view the rest of the BLOG post go to http://www.joannejacobs.com/mtarchives/016034.html .