‘Standardized Childhood’

In Standardized Childhood, Berkeley Professor Bruce Fuller questions the push for universal preschool tied to “public school bureaucracies.” Tax-funded preschools would provide one standardized model for young children, he writes.

On Early Stories, universal preschool advocate Richard Colvin complains that the progressive professor is sounding as alarmist as conservatives, libertarians and unschoolers.

Fuller is worried about what he calls the “brave new world” of child-rearing, conjuring up an image of government bureaucrats marching kids into school not long after they’re out of diapers to drill them on the ABCs. That’s not much different from the Connecticut blog called “Red Notes from a Blue State” that referred to pre-schools as “pedagogical holding pens.” Or the anti-preschool crowd in Idaho that fears some government “nanny state.” Oddly, Fuller also sounds a lot like the “unschooling” crowd, that says children should be allowed to develop at their own pace and time, freed from annoying school work.

And if Fuller doesn’t trust low-income parents to pick a charter or voucher school, why does he trust to pick the right preschool or no preschool at all?

Fuller responds on the blog.

Sure, it takes a village. But the pivotal question moving forward is, who gets to call the shots across America’s diverse villages, and what are the ethics and evidence on the proposition that what’s best is a more homogenous way of raising and instructing young children are best?

A professor of education and public policy, Fuller writes that research shows quality preschool strongly benefits children from poor families but provides few lasting benefits for children from middle-class families. Why not subsidize quality preschool for the children of blue-collar parents instead of spending scarce dollars to lower the preschool bills of affluent parents.

This is the argument that resonates most strongly with me. Young children have very different needs. I fear universal preschool won’t provide the kind of early education that disadvantaged children need because it’s too expensive (and unnecessary) to do for all children. Instead we’ll get programs that provide too little for the needy and more than enough for middle-class and affluent kids.

Update: EdWeek looks at whether a bachelor’s degree should be required to teach preschool. Fuller and others say there’s no evidence that teachers with BAs are better.

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Comments

  1. greifer says:

    of course. that’s what they provide at most government schools. why would it be any different for universal preschool?

  2. Prof210 says:

    Let’s wait a minute on the “universal” concept. For parents who can provide a rich environment, “at home” or “small group” preschool is likely to be superior to preschool in a classroom. But for many low income families, preschool may help prevent a huge achievment gap right at the starting line. How about optional — but strongly encouraged for “at risk” families?

  3. Concern over the cost of providing early ed to the affluent is misplaced. The affluent are already paying for their children to receive an early education (90% of children attend some form of early education in the most affulent school districts of my state). These same districts also vote to have the highest local taxes in support of public education.

  4. The State is already screwing up our children. It uses them as guinea pigs for every educational theory that comes down the pike–leaving their actual education spotty, at best. It fills their heads with every vagary of leftist thought that takres root in academia–all taxpayer funded and government mandated. And again, leaving their actual, needed education in the lurch.

    And we should give them access at a younger age?

  5. This is simply taxpayer funded daycare.

  6. And a growth opportunity for teacher union membership.

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  1. […] Standardized Childhoo: In Standardized Childhood, Berkeley Professor Bruce Fuller questions the push for universal preschool tied to “public school bureaucracies.” Tax-funded preschools would provide one standardized model for young children, he writes. […]

  2. […] This is what Bruce Fuller, author of Standardized Childhood, is worried about: Mass-produced, low-quality preschool that squeezes developing children into a single […]