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Universal Preschool News

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In this section, you'll find editorials, legislation, public policy and trends on issues relating to preschool, pre-kindergarten, childcare and the push toward universal preschool education. Particularly of note are articles concerning the states claim of a compelling interest in compulsory preschool education. Visit often for the latest preschool news.

The Costs and Benefits of Universal Preschool in California Research has shown that well-designed preschool education programs serving disadvantaged children can generate benefits to government and the rest of society that outweigh program costs. As a result of such evidence, there has been a growing conviction among U.S. business leaders, policymakers, and the public that children benefit from structured programs preparing them for school entry. That conviction has been accompanied by increasing enthusiasm for public-sector investment in preschool. March 31, 2005 [More Results from Rand Corporation]
No Child Left Unmedicated Big Brother is on the march. A plan to subject all children to mental health screening is underway, and pharmaceutical companies are gearing up for bigger sales of antidepressant and psychostimulant drugs. Like most liberal big-spending ideas, this one was slipped into the law under cover of sweet words. It started with the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health created by President George W. Bush's Executive Order 13263 of April 29, 2002. The Commission issued its report on July 22, 2003. President Bush has instructed 25 federal agencies to develop a plan to implement the Commissions recommendations. In 2004, Congress appropriated $20 million to finance the recommendations of this New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. Congress also passed the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act that included $7 million for suicide screening, and tens of millions more for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and its Center for Mental Health Services. by Phyllis Schlafly March 30, 2005 [More Results from Eagle Forum]
Public preschool a smart investment, study says The study, conducted by the RAND Corporation, builds on research in Michigan, Illinois and Tennessee that has followed preschool students over time, comparing their lives with those of similar children. The financial analysis assumes a voluntary, part-day program that would pay to place 4-year-olds in existing private preschools as well as new programs run by school districts, said Lynn Karoly, the study's lead researcher. by Sara Steffens March 30, 2005 [More Results from Contra Costa Times]
Study pushes preschool for all Report: payoff to state would be twice $1 billion investment About 35 percent of California's children don't go to preschool at all. Giving those kids access to the early learning, socialization and development that happen in preschool will cut down on costly school dropouts, special education, remedial work and juvenile crime, the Rand study states. by Jennifer Larson March 30, 2005 [More Results from The Desert Sun]
Out of play Florida schoolkids can name the presidents, speak foreign languages and studiously practice the FCAT. But they don't know what recess is. For 25 minutes every Friday, the first-graders get to play. They don't run laps or do pushups, practicing for some president's fitness test. They don't get pushed into whole-class kickball, where someone always gets stuck on the team with slow Stanley. They don't do anything where their teacher referees or anyone tells them what to do or with whom. by Lane DeGregory March 29, 2005 [More Results from St. Petersburg Times]
DVD schools kids on kindergarten Teachers reach out to students who did not attend preschool. Preschool wasn't an option for Tyler Fink. His working parents couldn't afford it, and Tyler didn't qualify for the free programs offered to low-income families. So when it came time to register for school, his mother was relieved when two kindergarten teachers at Harvey Green Elementary School gave her son a workbook and a DVD about kindergarten. The DVD was the brainchild of Green teachers Kristin Dil and Peggy Prestidge. Tired of playing catch-up each year with their non-preschool students, the teachers decided that they needed to reach the children, who otherwise would fall behind, long before school started. by Grace Rauh March 26, 2005 [More Results from Tri-Valley Herald (CA)]
Hard-charging high schools urge students to do less Sprawling across two huge campuses in Chicago's affluent northern suburbs, the venerable New Trier High School is usually cited as the epitome of public-school excellence. New Trier, like a number of large, high-performing schools, is beginning to acknowledge that a culture of excellence can have a dark side, and that the push to craft gilded college applications can bring on stress and overscheduling. Now the school - considered a stalwart of traditional education - is rethinking everything from its schedule to class rank and weighted GPAs in an effort to alleviate pressure. by Amanda Paulson March 21, 2005 [More Results from The Christian Science Monitor (IL)]
Academic jump-start: Classes for kids 2 to 5 Ritij Sarvaiya sits at a low table facing his teacher, Anita Hattangady. She shows him pictures and points to the accompanying words. Ritij, by the way, is 3 years old. He is also one of the first children enrolled in Pittsburgh's first Junior Kumon, a supplemental academic program designed specifically for preschoolers as young as 2, although 4 or 5 is the usual age.

The goal of the program, which is controversial in some circles for its methods and its unique academic focus on the pre-K market, is to prepare its youngest clients for kindergarten, in turn positioning them to do advanced work throughout their academic careers.
by Sally Kalson March 13, 2005 [More Results from Post-Gazette]
Parents matter more than preschool Thanks for printing teacher Matt Baxter's insightful letter (March 10). It's unbelievable the way that universal preschool is being pushed. Studies have repeatedly shown the most important factor in a child's success is the presence of the mother and father in a loving and committed relationship to each other and the children above all else. by Jan Llovera March 12, 2005 [More Results from San Jose Mercury News]
Public schools follow the market, pitch all-day kindergarten | csmonitor.com It's a working parent's dream - kindergartens competing to take your children off your hands all day, and the promise that they'll learn something, too. Competition for students has always existed between public and private schools. But open enrollment, home schooling, and a growing number of charter schools have widened parents' choices, and now public schools are facing one of their biggest competitors yet - themselves. by Tim Vanderpool March 9, 2005 [More Results from The Christian Science Monitor]
Are Santa Clara County Kindergarteners Prepared to Learn? Released today at a community forum of business, civic and education leaders, Ready for School? A Report on the Skill Levels of Santa Clara County Kindergarteners, assesses readiness in five developmental areas. According to a new study from the Santa Clara County Partnership for School Readiness, nearly 75 percent of preschoolers meet teacher expectations for overall kindergarten readiness, while 10 percent fall significantly below expectations. Additionally, less than 41% of children entering kindergarteners are proficient, or even in progress toward proficiency, in language and communication skills. March 8, 2005 [More Results from United Way Silicon Valley]
Opinion: Redwood City School District There's no free preschool The Mercury News reported Feb. 15 that parents in the Redwood City School District will get the first shot at enrolling their children in the county's first "free" preschool classes. Whether one is philosophically in favor or opposed to the concept of universal preschool, selling the idea that it is "free" is misleading at best. Property owners and taxpayers of other venues know who will be footing the bill for those "free" preschools while organized educators statewide are crying to Sacramento for even more money. by Mary Thompson February 17, 2005 [More Results from The Mercury News - [free subscription required]]
Parents go to school on giving kids a good start Police take up the cry to get all 4-year-olds into preschool. The situation in San Leandro is not unique. A statewide survey of publicly funded preschool programs found anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 children waiting for slots in either Head Start, state preschool programs or general child care - all of which serve low-income families.

Sponsored by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California, the survey included responses from about 2,800 state programs, a 48 percent response rate.
by Jill Tucker and Katy Murphy February 10, 2005 [More Results from The Daily Review (CA)]
Popping Pills in Preschool No one flinched when a child psychiatrist told a conference of parents and counselors that she had prescribed antidepressants to children as young as 3-1/2. Audience members at the San Diego conference, after all, were quite familiar with the concept of preschoolers on Prozac. Many of the parents in the audience have children who suffer from a debilitating form of shyness called selective mutism, one of a handful of mental disorders thought to strike children younger than 6. by Randy Dotinga February 5, 2005 [More Results from Wired News]
Statewide Evaluation of First 5 California Funded Programs First 5 California dispenses tobacco tax funds raised by Proposition 10, a ballot initiative passed in 1998, to the 58 California counties. County Commissions allocate these funds to support local programs that serve all children, from before birth to 5 years of age, and their families, to improve child health, child development, family functioning, and systems of care. February 1, 2005 [More Results from prop10evaluation.com]
Low-income parents support plans to subsidize preschool for more kids Heide De Anda's 4-year-old son, Andrew, started classes at a Kapalama preschool just last September, but she is already seeing a difference. Her son seems more comfortable around other children, more willing to share. His exposure to the teachers and environment at KCAA's Laura Morgan Pre-School will make the step to kindergarten much easier. But De Anda and her husband, who works at City Mill, could not afford preschool without a state subsidy for low-income parents. by Derrick DePledge January 26, 2005 [More Results from Honolulu Advertiser (HI)]
10 Things Your Preschool Won't Tell You "We're licensed, but that doesn't mean we're any good." Most three- and four-year-olds go to preschool these days " a big switch from 1960, when just 10 percent of them did, according to NIEER. One reason: Most state licensing requirements pertain to safety and health rather than quality. That means a school might take extra care to make sure the toilet bowl plunger isn't within a toddler's reach, but it might not require its teachers to have much education. Some states, in fact, don't require any academic degree to be a preschool teacher. Average teacher turnover at preschools ranges between 30 and 50 percent annually, says NAEYC. Those who do stay may not be well trained. by Kelly Barron December 14, 2004 [More Results from Smart Money]
Mandatory, universal preschool? The "education" lobby works tirelessly to create more jobs for its constituents. Currently that lobby, embodied in the teachers' unions, is making common cause with rich socialists like actor-producer Rob Reiner to establish "universal preschool." The state, through a tobacco tax-funded propaganda mill known as First Five California, is happily on board, buying TV advertising that trumpets the benefits of getting kids out of homes and into institutions sooner than the law currently requires.

Of course, this is all for the benefit of the children. The First Five ads, some of which feature a rich, successful white executive, declare that kids learn quicker, are better adjusted socially and less likely to become drug addicts and/or criminals if they get into institutional settings by age four.
by Michael Ackley December 13, 2004 [More Results from World Net Daily]
Making the Case for Universal Preschool When Sacramento Bee editorial writer Susanna Cooper took a year off to study early childhood education as a journalism fellow with the Public Policy Institute in San Francisco, she didn’t know the experience would profoundly change her professional life Earlier preschool movements, like the push to establish the Head Start program during Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, focused on the country’s poorest children and families. But the most recent preschool-for-all effort points to a growing body of evidence that shows that middle- and working-class students are also falling behind the state's most affluent youngsters. They say all children deserve extra help getting ready for kindergarten, especially in a pressurized environment that requires 5-year-olds to master skills that used to be taught in first grade. by Carol Brydolf December 1, 2004 [More Results from Ready Set Grow ... CT Kids]
Study: Children don't exercise nearly enough at preschool Children are supposed to play, run, jump and be active for at least two hours a day, but most aren't doing even half that much at preschool, says one of the first large studies to examine physical activity in children ages 3 to 5. This low activity level could be contributing to the increasing problem of excess weight in kids, says researcher Russ Pate, a professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina-Columbia. About 10% of children ages 2 to 5 are overweight; another 12% are at risk of becoming so, the latest government statistics show. More than half of 3- to 5-year-olds go to preschool. Children need more vigorous play during unstructured free time at preschool, Pate says, and they also need more organized physical activities, like dancing the hokey-pokey. by Nanci Hellmich November 1, 2004 [More Results from USA TODAY]
Imitating Mom May Build a Better Conscience Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it may also be a powerful conscience builder for toddlers, according to a new study. Researchers found that differences in how toddlers imitate their mothers can be related to how developed their conscience is as preschoolers. The study showed that toddlers who enthusiastically imitate their mothers tend to develop a sense of right and wrong sooner than those who don’t. by Jennifer Warner October 30, 2004 [More Results from FOX News]
First 5 LA Study Finds Mother's Education, Neighborhood Poverty Determine a Child's Readiness for Elementary School The key factors that determine whether a child will be adequately prepared to begin elementary school are the educational level attained by the child’s mother and the level of poverty in the child's neighborhood. Researchers found that most Los Angeles-area 4- and 5-year old children have the basic skills needed to begin school. But in the report titled “Are L.A.’s Children Ready for School'” the researchers concluded that children with poorly educated mothers, along with children living in poor neighborhoods, are at a disadvantage when they start school. September 16, 2004 [More Results from Rand Corporation]
Compulsory Mental Health Screening is Coming for Adults and Children Preschool and Up... There is a new major U.S. mental health initiative on the docket, based on a report of the New Freedom in Mental Health Commission, which recommends mental health screening for adults and children as young as preschool age. It also includes expanding school-based mental health programs requiring specific treatments for specific conditions, including the use of specific medications. Despite a growing public opposition to universal mental health screening, states are being encouraged by the federal government to adopt the measure. by Sharon Hughes August 24, 2004 [More Results from Mich News]
It's as simple as ABC: Preschool teachers should have a B.A. Preschool teachers should have at least a bachelor's degree and get salaries that match those of public elementary, middle and high school teachers, an influential education group says. In a report issued Tuesday, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) calls for what amounts to a complete makeover of the nation's early childhood education system, urging both private and public systems to raise standards and salaries with the aid of taxpayers, colleges and private enterprise. by Greg Toppo July 28, 2004 [More Results from USA Today]
The False Promise of Universal Pre-school Universal, free pre-school for all four-year-olds. Sounds great, especially if you're a working parent shelling out thousands of dollars a year for private pre-school and child care. Let the state pay for it! But most middle-class children don't need pre-school to reach their full potential. Poor children need a lot more -- high-quality, high-cost, full-day child care starting well before the age of four. by Joanne Jacobs April 15, 2004 [More Results from TCS: Tech Central Station]