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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 Secret, Dirty Life of a Non-Preschool Student When advocates of universal preschool imply that a child's success in the world depends on a year of listening and learning at preschool, it's time to set the record straight. I have a confession to make: I never went to preschool. Yes, it's true. While other kids stacked blocks or lay in squishy beanbags, I was in the kitchen picking rocks out of piles of dried black beans with my mom. The worst part is, my secret is no longer safe with me. Now, thanks to the dubious claims of a campaign for universal preschool in California, I will have to admit to the world that while preschoolers were napping on plastic mats and drinking milk out of Dixie cups, I was taking in a half-hour of "Sesame Street" and digging up earthworms after a good rain with my brother. It's horrible, I know. by Daffodil Altan December 21, 2005 [More Results from New America Media]
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)]
Rob Reiner's Ads Use Taxpayer Funds Opponents of actor-director Rob Reiner's $2.3 billion universal preschool initiative in California say a series of "public service announcements" are in fact taxpayer-funded ads for the measure. The foes complain that Reiner not only leads the initiative campaign, but also chairs the state commission that is paying for the ads - which carry the message that preschool is good for society at large, the Sacramento Bee reports. "It's a matter of sheer common sense - this is an expenditure of taxpayer dollars promoting preschool," Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, told the Bee. December 19, 2005 [More Results from Newsmax]
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)]
Mixed response to toddler plans There has been a mixed reaction to the government's idea of a national curriculum for babies and toddlers. Under the Childcare Bill, childminders would teach the curriculum to children "from birth" - with some worrying that it might be too prescriptive. The National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations called the proposals "bizarre". November 9, 2005 [More Results from BBC News (UK)]
New report examines effects nationwide of preschool on kids' development While middle-class children benefit modestly from preschool, youngsters from poor families experience two times the gains in early language and mathematics learning, according to a new study of more than 14,000 kindergartners nationwide. The report - "The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children's Development Nationwide: How Much Is Too Much'" - also examined whether long hours in preschool centers lead to diminishing returns in children's early development. Most surprising, is that the social skills of white, middle-class children suffer- in terms of cooperation, sharing and engagement in classroom tasks - after attending preschool centers for more than six hours a day, compared to similar children who remain at home with a parent prior to starting school. by Kathleen Maclay November 1, 2005 [More Results from UC Berkeley News]
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]
NHSA: Funds for 35,000 Head Start At-Risk Children Slots Would Vanish Under 2% Across-the-Board Federal Spending Cut WASHINGTON -- Despite being one of the most successful programs in the federal government, Head Start, which gets America's poorest children ready to learn in kindergarten and beyond, would be decimated by funding cuts. NHSA calculates that the effects of a 2 percent cut would result in the equivalent of closing enrollment to at least 35,000 currently served children. Although House leaders did not have the votes to push through a broad-based spending cut last week, they have vowed to press ahead with the plan. October 27, 2005 [More Results from PR Newswire Association]
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)]
Playtime, nursery rhymes and progress tests Plans for a national curriculum for babies will only add to pressure on parents, says Alice Thomson The blue indicator line shows. "I'm pregnant." It all seems so easy. All you have to do is wait nine months and there's your baby. You can take them home and they are all yours. You can cuddle them, play with them, care for them and enjoy watching them grow. That's what you think. From the moment you inform the state that you are having a baby, there's a third parent in the relationship. It starts the moment that you tell your doctor. October 11, 2005 [More Results from Telegraph News (UK)]
Study: Preschool Kids Drive Flu Epidemics When the flu strikes, preschool kids may be the first age group affected, passing the flu on to other people, a new study shows. If so, vaccinating 3- and 4-year-olds against flu might help curb flu epidemics, write researchers in the American Journal of Epidemiology. by Miranda Hitti October 1, 2005 [More Results from FOX News]
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]
Will New CA. Bill Stop Homeschooling? When it comes to preschool, the race is on. I remember questions from other moms about what I was going to do regarding preschool when my oldest son was a baby. I said "we're homeschooling" because it was an easy answer and I had indeed thought about doing so, but still I felt compelled to check out preschools, to apply frantically, and to make a deposit so that my child wouldn't be left out of the race. I was already feeling as though I wasn't good enough to teach my own child. by Tricia S. Vaughan July 30, 2005 [More Results from News With Views (CA)]
Human Services chief bids farewell Under Borland's leadership, the county undertook welfare reform before it was launched on a national level. Now the agency is supporting an effort to make preschool available to every child in the county, another area where it is leading the state. At her request, the supervisors on Tuesday approved a $1.75 million grant over three years from her agency to the First 5 San Mateo County Preschool for All program. by Laura Ernde July 17, 2005 [More Results from San Mateo County Times]
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)]
Scary Preschool Utopia Did you know, the earnest lady asked, that one-quarter of even the affluent children in this country start kindergarten without full knowledge of the alphabet? She clearly found this information a shocker, evidence that this nation needs universal pre-kindergarten, right away. This was, after all, Libby Doggett, the executive director of Pre-K Now, speaking at a seminar for reporters this spring in Denver. by Karin Klein June 7, 2005 [More Results from Los Angeles Times (CA)]
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]
Stick to what works, researchers tell preschool advocates and policy makers As efforts accelerate to develop a universal preschool system, advocates and policy makers should focus dollars on blue-collar families, not hand preschools over to public schools. "The worthy cause of extending preschool to all families is gaining steam, money and big-name proponents," said Bruce Fuller, co-author of the report and UC Berkeley professor of education and public policy. "But key pillars of initial programs are founded on the sands of weak evidence, ignoring the lessons from leading states." by Kathleen Maclay May 5, 2005 [More Results from UC Berkeley News]
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)]