Absurdity in the Pre-School Debate
It seems this is a good idea, well intentioned, but suffering from poor execution. There are issues with funding sources, the staggering amount ($2,400,000,000.00), contentions over how "universal" the plan actually is, teacher pay, inequity in tax increase. And that's fine, except the critique that seems to get the most play, the one that is consistently repeated, highlighted on edu-blogs and op-eds, is the finding that learning gains demonstrated by poor kids who attend preschool programs begin to fade by grades 3-4. Such claims are repeated here: http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/opinion/13967176.htm
although without the usual misguided emphasis.
I keep seeing this. We should not advocate that more poor kids from non-white ethnic groups attend preschool, because 4 years later the academic gains attributable to their attendance in preschool have faded. Four years later.
Who the hell cares what happens four years later? The point of the program is to work toward the goal of ensuring that every kid who enters kindergarten does so with the skills necessary to be successful. In kindergarten. Most of these skills are of the social variety, but in their absence, the kind of critical foundational learning that must occur in Kinder often does not. You think kids wait until until 8th grade to start falling behind? What are the obvious root causes? I don't dispute the findings regarding academic-gains-slippage; they're just unimportant. They tell us only what we already know: poor, non-white kids are not succeeding in America's schools, and in particular, the shit starts to hit the fan in those critical later elementary grades. Who knew? Seriously, thanks for the update, but how did those kids who went to preschool, who attended Head Start and similar programs, how'd they do in K-1?
No single program will irrevocably right the lilting ship and to condemn an entire undertaking because the benefits have faded over the course of four years, when the academic gains of the kids in question have been affected by countless additional factors, is ridiculous in the extreme.