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Universal Preschool Commentary

We've assembled provocative opinion and commentary on the value, or lack thereof, of universal preschool and the importance of parental involvement in early childhood development. Whether you agree or not, we hope this section will at least make you scratch your head and say, "hmmmmm..."

Poor Behavior Is Linked to Time in Day Care A report from the largest study of American child care finds that keeping a preschooler in a day care for a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class - the effect persisted through sixth-grade. Every year spent in day care centers for at least 10 hours per week was associated with a 1 percent higher score on a standardized assessment of problem behaviors completed by teachers, said Dr. Margaret Burchinal, a co-author of the study and a psychologist at the University of North Carolina. by Benedict Carey March 26, 2007 [More Results from The New York Times]
Denver tots offer lesson for Ohio By approving a massive, citywide pre school initiative, Denver voters have given Ohio leaders a model to watch. Gov.-elect Ted Strickland made improving early childhood programs a major part of his campaign platform, while Cuyahoga County officials recently announced plans to launch a preschool effort next fall. December 2, 2006 [More Results from The Cleveland Plain Dealer (OH)]
I was wrong: Schools should raise our kids The Scottsdale Unified School District is going to spend $535,000 for additional counselors, which proves once and for all that schools have become a substitute for parents when it comes to raising children. It's humiliating and embarrassing for me to admit this, but I've been wrong all these years about public education in general and the Scottsdale Unified School District in particular. Clearly, government schools are more effective than parents in raising children. What else can explain the fact that most Arizonans are in favor of free all-day kindergarten? Or how about the fact that no one seems to think it's peculiar that SUSD is going to spend $535,000 for additional counselors. by Craig J. Cantoni July 8, 2006 [More Results from The Arizona Republic]
The Price of Day Care Can Be High There is one place in North America where parents of young children don't have to worry about child care. In Quebec, full-time day care costs just $7 a day, thanks to a government program aimed at one of the thorniest problems that workers in their 20's, Starting in 1997, the Quebec Family Policy subsidized day care for 4-year-olds at government-approved centers around the province. By 2000, the program had expanded to cover any child not old enough for kindergarten, all the way down to infants. This is universal day care, an audacious idea that recognizes the revolution in women's work over the last 30 years. by David Leonhardt June 14, 2006 [More Results from New York Times (Canada)]
David Beats Goliath - Again Today California preschoolers can breath a sigh of relief as the dust settles on the California Initiative - Proposition 82, otherwise known as the 'Preschool-For-All' initiative. Prop. 82 was soundly defeated 39.1% to 60.9% during the primary elections last night. For the past two years Diane Flynn Keith producer and editor of, has been pouring her heart and soul into rallying opposition forces, in what at times seemed like David vs. Goliath. by Annette M. Hall June 7, 2006 [More Results from Reliable]
Props. 82, 81 rejected CALIFORNIA VOTERS soundly rejected an effort to create universal preschools throughout the state. In defeating Proposition 82, Californians wisely ended a two-year effort by actor Rob Reiner and other backers of creating state-operated preschools with revenue solely from high-income taxpayers. Evidently voters realized that Prop. 82 was unfair taxation of a mobile sector of the population and that the measure was a highly inefficient way to provide preschools for children who were not already attending classes. Proposition 81, the statewide library bond measure, also went down to defeat even though Democrats, who usually favor such issues, came out in larger numbers than Republicans. June 6, 2006 [More Results from Contra Costa Times (CA)]
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]
The Reiner Initiative and Preschool Pressures: An Interview with Diane What might be the problem with preschool? Where can conscientious parents and educators find common ground? Diane Flynn Keith shares her views about California's "First Five" advertisements, Rob Reiner, standardized testing, and much more. "I can tell you, however, that last Fall, at a Preschool Advocacy Day in Sacramento that was sponsored by the non-profit Packard Foundation, I witnessed a presumptuous and cocky Reiner urge the audience to turn out the yes vote on Preschool-For-All in June 2006. Reiner acknowledged that he wasn't supposed to say that (due to IRS regulations restricting non-profits from political and lobbying activities) but told the audience he didn't care and invited the Feds to come and get him." by Diane Flynn Keith March 31, 2006 [More Results from HorseSense and Nonsense]
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]]
Study shows free preschool changes kids' lives forever Experts say universal program is big investment with big returns If California offered free, top-notch preschool to every 4-year-old, the state would see a $2.7 billion return on its $2.4 billion investment, but it's about more than money, according a study released today. by Jill Tucker December 15, 2005 [More Results from Inside Bay Area]
Daycares Don't Care, How Can a Daycare Love? ~ Daycare Quote of the Month ~
First Day at Daycare - My daughter comes home smelling like another woman's perfume.
Everyone knows it's true; but almost everyone's afraid to say it: Daycare institutions don't care about or love your child like you do. For years, many experts have been warning us about the detrimental consequences for children placed in day care. This website contains an extensive index of publications about daycare from well-known child development authorities, psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians, public policy analysts, sociologists, daycare providers, and others. July 19, 2005 [More Results from]
Dawn to dusk care plan for schools All children under 14 in England will be offered "dawn to dusk" care under a radical extension of the current school day, which the government hopes will become known in the education lexicon as "Kelly hours". But today's announcement by the education secretary, Ruth Kelly, is likely to be overshadowed by questions from teachers' leaders about how the so-called extended schools - open from 8am to 6pm - will be funded, and warnings of the bureaucracy involved. by Rebecca Smithers June 13, 2005 [More Results from Guardian Unlimited (UK)]
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)]
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]
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]
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]
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)]
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]
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]
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 â€" 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]
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]
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]
Preschool Across the country, legislators are debating whether to send all three- and four-year-olds to pre-kindergarten classes at taxpayer expense. Advocates of universal preschool claim that starting kids in school earlier improves academic achievement... This claim is made so often that one would expect it to rest on solid evidence, but it does not. Proponents exaggerate the benefits of preschool for young children, and fail to mention that the benefits fade after a few years. No widescale longitudinal study has found long-term positive effects from state-funded preschool. February 19, 2004 [More Results from CATO Institute]