June 30, 2009
With an eye towards boosting high school graduation rates, the Anchorage School District plans for its share of stimulus funding include adding preschool. According to a June 25 editorial in the Anchorage Daily News, the district “will begin offering preschool classes in parts of town with the biggest need, and where there are schools with space available.” In the editorial, schools Superintendent Carol Comeau notes that “some children head down the path toward eventually dropping out during their pre-school and kindergarten years.”
The district also plans to use the stimulus funds to keep marginal students in school, help students set career and education goals, and for early alert monitoring for students in danger of failing, as well as for one-time expenses such as staff training, technology upgrades, building projects, and new textbooks.
The Anchorage Daily News editorial can be found here:
June 5, 2009
It seems like everyone wants targeted pre-K for poor kids, now that all kids might get it. Case in point – Chester Finn’s inaccurate and exaggerated attack on those who seek a high quality education for all of America’s children in Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut. Finn builds a case for targeted programs based on errors, exaggeration, misrepresentation and logical inconsistency relying heavily on Bruce Fuller’s similarly inaccurate attack for his “facts.” Rather than putting the whole jigsaw puzzle together, he selects just a few pieces from which to draw his conclusions. Just for starters:
- Finn exaggerates the costs of effective programs;
- Finn claims that effects fade-out, largely because of poor primary schools. But when all of the evidence is reviewed, it is clear that fade-out is largely a myth. Preschool’s advantages decline to some extent for exactly the opposite reason, our public schools are successful in helping children who are behind catch up. Yet, preschool education effects remain substantial well into the school years in reasonably rigorous studies.
- Large scale public programs produce long-term benefits on children’s cognitive and social development and show that ALL children benefit;
- Finn uses studies of private child care to conclude that public programs are likely to produce negative social effects – not so;
- Finn claims that 85% of children already get preschool or child care at age 4, so universal pre-K is unnecessary. In fact, Finn’s plan would leave middle income children behind because far fewer attend an educationally effective preschool program, yet one in 10 fail a grade and are held back and one in 10 drop out of high school. By virtue of the sheer numbers of middle income children, most of the school failure and dropout are accounted for by middle income children.
- Targeting also leaves poor children behind.
- Both international and state studies from Oklahoma to New Jersey show that pre-K for all can dramatically improve learning and development for most children.
This barely touches upon the many mistakes in Chester Finn’s attack on pre-K for all. For a more extensive review, see Debunking Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut.