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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.

Preschool plan not for all Gov. Rod Blagojevich's landmark "Preschool for All Children" initiative won't give all children access to free preschool after all, at least in the short run. Although any family could apply, the program approved by the Illinois House and Senate on Thursday gives first priority to children at risk of failing in school, and then to working families that meet income guidelines--restrictions not part of so-called universal preschool programs offered elsewhere. by Diane Rado May 5, 2006 [More Results from Chicago Tribune (IL)]
Universal preschool would mean universal disaster for US kids Your March 27 editorial, "Universal preschool, universal benefits," was extraordinarily biased. The High/Scope Perry Preschool Project referred to in the article only focused on 123 disadvantaged African-American kids. The sample group was too small to make generalizations across all preschool populations. The results not only couldn't be duplicated, they came under fire for biased reporting. Using such a flawed report as a basis for a cost-benefit analysis to justify public universal preschool programs is absurd. by Diane Flynn Keith April 5, 2006 [More Results from The Christian Science Monitor]
Disingenuous ploy: Reiner should stop hiding behind 'the kids' Perhaps the most tiresome Stupid Politician Trick of all is when someone under fire declares that the real goal of his critics is to try to hurt the weak and powerless folks he protects. This defense is so common that it's become a cliche: "I'm just trying to help the kids," said Sen. For-Sale Smith as he downplayed the $10 million that mysteriously turned up in his bank account. March 18, 2006 [More Results from The San Diego Union-Tribune (CA)]
The Reiner rip-off: Taxpayer-funded push for initiative reeks It's hard to fathom how a Hollywood actor-director-activist with a reputation for caring about children could make the transition to sleazy pol so quickly, but that's just what Rob Reiner has done. His role in orchestrating the use of millions in taxpayer money to push his latest cause is beyond slimy and way past arrogant... There's talk of seeking a state Fair Political Practices Commission investigation of this mess, but that doesn't go far enough. Attorney General Bill Lockyer, come on down. A slap on the wrist is not sufficient. The use of $23 million in public funds for a personal crusade merits a criminal investigation. February 23, 2006 [More Results from The San Diego Union-Tribune (CA)]
Should California pay for preschool? In June, Californians will vote on a proposal to offer three hours a day of free preschool to every 4-year-old in the state by 2010 -- paid for by a new tax on the state's highest-earning residents. Proponents of Proposition 82, also known as the Preschool for All Act, say preschool is a sound investment, citing research showing that children who attend preschool are more likely to avoid repeating a grade, graduate from high school and steer clear of crime. Opponents say a new government-run preschool system is destined to be a costly bureaucratic disaster. by Dana Hull February 12, 2006 [More Results from The Mercury News (CA)]
Preschool funding plan on ballot Friends and foes of Rob Reiner's "Preschool for All" initiative got word from the secretary of state's office late Thursday afternoon that the initiative has qualified for the June 2006 ballot. The measure proposes taxing the state's wealthiest residents to provide a year of free preschool to California 4-year-olds. The issue promises to be one of the most heated of the coming election season. by Dana Hull January 13, 2006 [More Results from The Mercury News (CA)]
Puffed up promise of preschool If preschool is a requirement for success, how did so many of us succeed without it? And why are so many students today failing with it? Robert Fulghum's bestseller All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten recounts the life lessons we carry from our early years. So it is with learning the ABCs: All Children Really Need to Know They Can Learn in Kindergarten. No preschool required. Nevertheless, kids are skipping off to class earlier and earlier. If the average mother in past generations felt pressure to be home with her children, the average mother today feels pressure to send her toddlers to preschool. by Darcy Olsen December 20, 2005 [More Results from The Arizona Republic [Free Subscription Required]]
Universal preschool trend has critics TROUTDALE - All across the country, governors and legislators from both parties are pouring money into universal preschool programs. In New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson is preparing to press for universal preschool in the 2006 legislative session, a move that could cost about $59 million a year, and Illinois has set aside $90 million over the next three years for early-childhood education. In all, spending on pre-K programs is just over $2.5 billion nationwide, according to Pre-K Now, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group. by Julia Silverman December 19, 2005 [More Results from The Seattle Times (WA)]
Campaign 2006: 'Meathead' Is at It Again LOS ANGELES -- Celebrities with a social conscience are a growing breed in Hollywood. But it would be nice if they'd stick to whales and landmines and leave our children alone. Unfortunately, California parents have no such luck. Movie director turned child advocate Rob Reiner--best known for playing the role of "Meathead" on "All in the Family"--recently acquired a million signatures to put his Preschool for All initiative on the California ballot next June, his second attempt to launch a "universal" preschool program. The initiative would impose a 1.7% income tax on couples making over $800,000 a year ($400,000 for individuals) to offer three hours of free preschool for all the state's 4-year-olds. by Shikha Dalmia and Lisa Snell December 11, 2005 [More Results from Opinion Journal - The Wall Street Journal]
Full-day kindergarten would mean big changes North Syracuse district officials are closely watching a proposal before the state's Board of Regents that would mandate full-day kindergarten in all districts as well as other early childhood education programs. Superintendent Jerome Melvin told school board members on Monday night that the district would need half an elementary school building to accommodate a full-day kindergarten. The proposed policy also would require pre-kindergarten in all districts and services to children from birth to age 2. It also drops the compulsory school age from 6 years old to 5 years old. by Michele Reaves November 10, 2005 [More Results from The Post-Standard (NY)]
JCCEO Celebrates 40 Years Of Head Start The Head Start program for preschool children is 40 years old this year, and the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity Head Start Program celebrated this milestone at all its centers. Begun in 1965 as a summer program, when the need to help low-income children prepare for kindergarten and first grade became apparent, the program has served thousands of children here in Jefferson County, and more than 22 million children across the nation. by Community News October 27, 2005 [More Results from The Birmingham Times]
Pre-K enrollment lower than expected ORLANDO - Enrollment in Florida's new $387 million prekindergarten program is not meeting expectations, missing projections by tens of thousands of children, state officials said Friday. Gladys Wilson, deputy director of early learning for the state agency that manages the program, told a conference of small-business leaders assembled by the nonprofit Florida TaxWatch that only about 80,000 4-year-olds are enrolled. That's 54 percent of the 147,000 expected to attend. October 15, 2005 [More Results from The Gainesville Sun (FL)]
Don't judge a preschool by whether it has computers Unless you count the plastic one next to the two real-but-not-connected telephones in the dress-up corner of the yellow room, there's no computer in the classrooms at Watertown Cooperative Nursery School. In the search for the perfect preschool, that could make or break some parents' decision. Teaching director Margaret Cleremont makes no apologies. "If what they are looking for is reading skills and worksheets and an emphasis on academics rather than on social and emotional development, we're not for them," she says. by Barbara F. Meltz September 29, 2005 [More Results from The Boston Globe]
Preschool for All plan put into action California Gathered last week in front of a blue banner with big letters reading "Preschool for All," actor-turned-preschool advocate Rob Reiner and a bevy of San Francisco bigwigs kicked off the enrollment season for the city's new preschool program. The goal is for all 4-year-olds in the city to have the opportunity to attend a free, high-quality preschool within five years, regardless of their families' income levels. The launch involves $3.3 million in city funds supporting 1,000 children at 22 preschool programs clustered in Visitacion Valley, the Excelsior, the Mission and Bayview.

Reiner -- joined by Supervisor Tom Ammiano, District Attorney Kamala Harris and Board of Education members Jill Wynns and Norman Yee -- said investing in early-childhood education will have a tremendous ripple effect in the future, with lower crime rates and an improved economy.
by Heather Knight July 15, 2005 [More Results from The San Francisco Chronicle (CA)]
Toilet training tips from the pros Ever hear the old saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink'" The same can be said for leading a toddler to a toilet, says Michael McCabe, a pediatrician with North Canton Medical Foundation. "There are a few things parents can't make their children do," he said. "They can't make them eat, they can't make them go to sleep and they can't make them poop in a toilet. But they can teach them to do these things." Instead of turning toilet time into a power struggle, start getting little ones comfortable with the bathroom when they are between 15 months and 18 months old, he said. by Cheryl Powell June 12, 2005 [More Results from The Salt Lake Tribune (UT)]
Maybe Preschool Is the Problem IF six out of every 1,000 preschool children are asked to pack up their Goldfish crackers and never return to nursery school - expelled at the tender age of 4 - whose fault is that? But maybe, some education experts say, the problems stem from preschool itself. A new study released last week by the Yale Child Study Center found that preschool children are three times as likely to be expelled as children in primary school, and that roughly 5,000 preschool children are turned out each year. by Jennifer Steinhauer May 22, 2005 [More Results from The New York Times [Requires free subscription]]
Research Finds a High Rate of Expulsions in Preschool So what if typical 3-year-olds are just out of diapers, still take a daily nap and can't tie their shoes? They are old enough to be expelled, the first national study of expulsion rates in pre-k programs has found. In fact, preschool children are three times as likely to be expelled as children in kindergarten through 12th grade, according to the new study, by researchers from the Yale Child Study Center. Although preschool expulsion rates varied widely by state and type of setting, the study found that on average, boys were expelled at 4.5 times the rate of girls, African-Americans at twice the rate of Latinos and Caucasians, and 4-year-olds at 1.5 times the rate of 3-year-olds. by Tamar Lewin May 17, 2005 [More Results from The New York Times]
Opinion: Teaching is the answer Learning to read is the key, not universal preschool - Universal preschools are not a solution to our education problems. If it were, universal kindergarten would have solved the problem long ago. In California, approximately 65 percent of young children go to preschool. Yet, nowhere in the literacy performance of our children does that number appear in results. The U.S Department of Education has put its finger on the problem in a backward sort of way. In two official booklets about what your child should be learning in preschool and in primary grades, they do not mention that teachers should be teaching children how to read. Just stuff like reading to children, rhyming and alliteration. Nowhere is it suggested that teachers should actually teach children how to read. They imply that if you do those things, kids will catch on and learn. Life just doesn't work that way. by Murray T. Bass April 24, 2005 [More Results from The Reporter - Forum]
Op-Ed Not the time for universal preschool ballot measure The free preschool program would be voluntary, but 70 percent of the state's 500,000 eligible 4-year-olds would be expected to enroll. Why wouldn't they? It's free. Reiner's proposal raises a lot of questions. Do we want to transform today's network of independent operators into a statewide operation' Do we want a formally institutionalized preschool system with uniform standards and a bureaucracy' How big would it be' Given how strapped California is for money, including education dollars, do we want to fund preschool for wealthy and middle-class children or start by targeting needy children for financial aid' April 24, 2005 [More Results from The Oakland Tribune (CA)]
Classic toys never grow old with kids At a time when many 3-year-olds can operate a DVD player to watch their favorite movies, it's nice to know classic toys still have a place in their lives. Fisher-Price Toys Inc. is celebrating its 75th anniversary, and although the company has kept in touch with the times with hot licensed products and electronic gizmos, it's the classics that have captured the imaginations of generations of kids. Company lore has it that in 1934, Herman Fisher's mother, who was a teacher, coined the term "preschool" toys and a new toy segment was born. by Denise I. O'Neal April 22, 2005 [More Results from Chicago Sun-Times (IL)]
World Congress of Families II "The learning tools -- vision, hearing, cognition, nervous system-- of average children who enroll at today's early ages are not tempered for structured academic tasks. Students lose physical and mental health from 1) uncertainty from leaving the family nest, 2) bafflement from social pressures and restrictions, 3) frustration from pressure to use their unready "learning tools" which can't handle the regimentation and routine of formal lessons, 4) hyperactivity growing out of tattered nerves warring against rigid studies, 5) failure which flows from the episodes above, 6) delinquency which is failure's twin, and 7) a sense of family lost, often including suicide. by Raymond S. Moore, Ph.D. April 11, 2005 [More Results from The Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society]
Little scholars, big business As more parents seek to give kids an edge, learning centers thrive Rather than play outside on the mild afternoon, a half-dozen boys and girls hone verbal skills and hurtle through math drills inside a nondescript Newton storefront. Across the room, students sweat over synonyms and earn high fives after completing each unit. Struggling students in need of remedial help' No. They're normal elementary-school pupils who came to the local Score! learning center for an hour of "personal academic training" while their mothers ran errands. by Mary C. Lord April 10, 2005 [More Results from The Boston Globe]
The danger of confusing education and childcare Education and childminding have long been closely associated. In the 1830s, all three Brontë sisters went out from Haworth Parsonage to be governesses, either in boarding schools or private homes. The posts involved both teaching and childcare, extending, in the case of Emily, "from six in the morning until near eleven at night". Why, then, do I feel the balance between the two is now so seriously out of kilter that the integrity of the education service is threatened' From the end of the Second World War, day nurseries were set up by the government to meet the needs of the wartime female workforce with no pretence they provided education - other than on a very informal social basis. After the war, this continued in local authority day nurseries and through the voluntary playgroup movement.
At some stage, however, the concept of preschool education entered the scene. Nursery schools were established, typically staffed by one qualified teacher and a number of nursery nurses. The teacher provided an educational veneer for what was essentially organised play.
by Fred Forrester April 6, 2005 [More Results from The Scotsman]
Legislative Update: Universal preschool/education again loom large Education again looms large in this year's legislative session. And while parents, school officials, teachers and, yes, even legislators, should be concerned with education... California ranks 48th in the nation for education excellence-the reality is that every year legislators introduce hundreds of new bills affecting schools that micromanage education by dictating how and what teachers can teach in their classrooms, what policies school boards must adopt and other Sacramento-driven mandates.

AB 171 Comprehensive pupil learning support system (Yee, D-San Francisco) AB 172 Universal preschool (Chan, Oakland)
by Karen Holgate April 5, 2005 [More Results from Christian Examiner]
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]