Preschool myths

Lance Izumi attacks the Top 10 Myths about California’s preschool initiative on the June 6 ballot, while the indefatigable Lisa Snell points out that universal preschool didn’t improve reading in Oklahoma or Georgia, which are supposed to have model programs.

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  1. Georgia Momma says:

    As a parent of a child about to complete Georgia Pre-K (today is her last day) and one who completed it 5 years ago, I am not surprised that Georgia Pre-K doesn’t seem to improve reading scores.

    First, in the very beginning, Pre-K was means tested, the only most at risk students were admitted. Very quickly, as the lottery (which funds it) became more profitable, means testing went away and now poor students must compete with everyone else’s child for a spot. I would say that in my child’s class, 2/3rds of the families would have and could have paid for private preschool. For many of us, it is a convience issue, having our children in the same school as their older siblings. Also, saving money is a big incentive as well.

    Our school is about 15 percent Hispanic, but in the lottery for next year’s pre-k, not one Hispanic child was chosen. Because these families often don’t have transportation, it is unlikely that these kids will end up in a Pre-K program at all.

    At the most affluent public schools in Metro Atlanta, there will often be nearly 100 applicants for 20 spots and every applicant has an alternative plan if their child’s name isn’t drawn. At the schools in the poorer communities, there might be 300 applicants and most don’t have a back up plan.

    Even though my children have benefitted from Georgia Pre-K, I do believe that the state would experience more benefits if the program was means tested.

    So, it isn’t surprising that Georgia isn’t seeing tremendous benefits from this program. It isn’t reaching the most needy children.

  2. OKteachermom says:

    Speaking as an Oklahoma parent and teacher, I know that public school Pre-K was not available in our mostly upper middle class suburban school district until the fall of 2000. According to the article, the 4th graders tested in 2005 had universal preschool available, which is true here, but it was limited to a few programs and not available at every school in my school district. My youngest child, who completes the 4th grade today was eligible, but we chose to keep her in the excellent Pre-K program at her child care center which was included as part of her full day care.

    I don’t think that there was or is a means test for entrance into the program. I do know that some developmental evaluation was done with the children, but I’m not sure if it was for those who had been accepted or for those who had applied.

    If limited Pre-K was only available in this wealthy district beginning in 2000, I’m pretty sure that it was not available in all of our over 500 (mostly rural) school districts at the same time.

    I think that using the testing statistics for the first cohort of public Pre-K students in Oklahoma as evidence of the failure of universal Pre-K is a little presumptuous. Let’s look again in a few years and see if the statistics bear out.

    However, I do agree with Georgia Momma in that I think that we are not reaching the neediest chilidren in Oklahoma either. We now have a public Pre-K classroom using space at the child care center my daughter attended and most of the students enrolled are from the center where the parents are also paying for care, so these are probably not the children most in need of Pre-K.

  3. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    Take that, Meathead! Archie Bunker was right.