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.
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.
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.
June 14, 2006
[More Results from New York Times (Canada)]
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.
April 5, 2006
[More Results from The Christian Science Monitor]
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.
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.
December 20, 2005
[More Results from The Arizona Republic [Free Subscription Required]]
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.
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.
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.
April 6, 2005
[More Results from The Scotsman]
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.
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.
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.
February 5, 2005
[More Results from Wired News]