Friday, March 2, 2007

PreSchool for All? No Thanks.

This article from Susan Wight is spot on and a must read. Look at the statistics!

All kinds of studies are cited to show what a benefit Pre-School for all is. While these studies demonstrate that pre-K helps those children living in poverty and unstable home environments, it does not perform favorably with regard to kids coming from average homes.
Even Professor Edward Zigler, credited as “the father of Headstart” a widespread American preschool program admits “there is a large body of evidence that there is little to be gained by exposing middle class children to early education … (and) evidence that indicates early schooling is inappropriate for many four-year-olds, and that it may be harmful to their development”.
Even so - it has been proven beyond a doubt through longitudinal studies (those which follow kids from one point in time to another) that any gains made early on disappear by 3rd grade. Why then must we spends huge amounts of money to send every all children to Pre-School?
If preschool were truly beneficial in terms of giving children a head start, those places with some form of compulsory preschool should do demonstrably better academically. The evidence does not bear this out.

For example, the two states of America which have compulsory preschool, Georgia and Oklahoma, have the lowest results for fourth grade reading tests in the country.

In 2000, the Program for International Study Assessment (PISA) compared the academic scores of children from 32 industrialized nations in reading literacy, maths and science. The results showed that in countries where schooling starts at a young age they do not consistently outperform those who start later.

Finland, which has a compulsory schooling age of seven, held the top ranking in all test subjects of the Third International Mathematics and Science (TIMS) results in 1999.

Singapore, which also scored highly in the PISA and TIMS assessments, has no publicly funded early education programs.

By contrast, Sweden, which has one of the most comprehensive early child-care programs in Europe, was one of the lowest scoring nations.

Hungary and Czechoslovakia, cut their day-care programs significantly in the 1990s after studies determined that institutional care damages preschool-aged children.
Pre-School may be beneficial to some, but it is absolutely unnecessary to make it compulsory for all, in fact all it does is empty taxpayers' pockets and increase school budgets and union membership enrollment.

From a social, psychological, academic and emotional standpoint Pre-School can be counterproductive and even damaging. With all the money tied up in the effort it is obvious that it's not entirely "For the Kids" at all. Follow the money and you'll see who really benefits: Educrats, administrators, credentialing organizations, unions and a host of other people who benefit from more school spending.

See my previous post.