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Friday, January 18, 2013

Obama Considering Proposal to Fund Universal Preschool for 4-Year-Olds

Posted by on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 4:31 PM

Yes, yes, YES:

[T]he White House is considering a major step to boost early childhood education. According to sources close to the administration, Duncan and the Department of Health and Human Services are outlining a plan to create universal pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds from low- and some middle-income families — approximately 1.85 million children. The plan, which is projected to cost as much as $10 billion to implement in full, is still under review by the White House, but sources said that last Tuesday, Linda Smith, an HHS official, discussed the proposal at a meeting of early childhood advocates.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of Arne Duncan and his bullshit corporate reform agenda, but universal preschool (and yeah, I know the proposal is not technically "universal") would more than make up for it. And $10 billion? Such a bargain when you consider the enormous return on investment.

There's been all this talk about President Obama making guns, immigration, and climate the top three priorities of his second term, but if he manages to push this through, universal preschool ("Obamaschool?") could be his most lasting legacy after Obamacare.

 

Comments (46) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
This would actually be useful.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on January 18, 2013 at 4:34 PM · Report this
2
Oh my lord, the Republicans are gonna have a field day with the "free stuff / how-you-gonna-pay-for-it" angle. War? Fine. School? TOO EXPENSIVE.
Posted by fotini901 on January 18, 2013 at 4:39 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 3
Obamagarten.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on January 18, 2013 at 4:39 PM · Report this
Hernandez 4
Countdown until Fox News, Rick Santorum, and a host of others codemn this proposal as "liberal indoctrination of our children"...
Posted by Hernandez http://hernandezlist.blogspot.com on January 18, 2013 at 4:40 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 5
4 is too young. It's just another parental outsourcing option. Better those additional two years at home and then start first grade. And the jury is still out on how effective it is anyway.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 18, 2013 at 4:41 PM · Report this
biffp 6
Newt Gingrich to re-proose children work in the school doing janitorial tasks?
Posted by biffp on January 18, 2013 at 4:41 PM · Report this
biffp 7
On the basis of having a 5-year-old, I would disagree that 4-years-old is too young for part-time pre-school. My two kids loved part-time Montessori.
Posted by biffp on January 18, 2013 at 4:45 PM · Report this
CC-Rob 8
@4 Spot on!
Posted by CC-Rob on January 18, 2013 at 4:45 PM · Report this
Goldy 9
@5 The jury is not still out on its efficacy. In fact, it's the only education reform repeatedly demonstrated work. Nothing does more to improve academic and life results than high quality early learning, and nothing does more to close the achievement gap.

So please stop lying.
Posted by Goldy on January 18, 2013 at 4:49 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 10
@5, you're wrong. I actually did research on this for a college class. There have been studies indicating significant improvement in children who have had a preschool program vs. children who have not.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on January 18, 2013 at 4:53 PM · Report this
11
@5 "4 is too young. It's just another parental outsourcing option. Better those additional two years at home and then start first grade. And the jury is still out on how effective it is anyway."

Perhaps things are different where you live but a lot of babies go pretty much straight from the womb to daycare.

The utility of instruction at that age may be debatable, but I think the benefits of having more time spent being talked to and read to during early childhood development are pretty well substantiated.
Posted by The Benefits Of Putting Wellfare Mothers To Work on January 18, 2013 at 4:54 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 12
@9: Perhaps, but there are more important things that what you enumerated. If I were to go into them, I'd be flamed as a concern troll again. Nevertheless, I appreciate your response Goldy.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 18, 2013 at 4:54 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 13
What @7 said. Ian loved going to preschool next to Seattle Art Museum and the Pike Place Market.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on January 18, 2013 at 5:07 PM · Report this
14
@4 and @5 - Wow, Phoebe in Wallingford! Your neighborhood must be some amazing place where all families can afford to send one parent to work while the other stays at home. Yes, that would be great for kids, but it's not based in economic reality today.
Posted by cloudveil1 on January 18, 2013 at 5:23 PM · Report this
internet_jen 15
@12 - It has a similar effect as preventative medicine on health outcomes later in life. Positive feedback loop of well adjusted citizens: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HighScope
Posted by internet_jen on January 18, 2013 at 5:35 PM · Report this
Cascadian 16
This should pretty much be mandatory for any society that expects most families to rely on two incomes. Though really, it should be open to even younger kids if they are ready for it. Our daughter started preschool at 3 1/2, going to a kind of crappy school for six months before switching to a good Montessori school for the next two years. From that experience I've learned that decent preschool is expensive even for most middle-income people.

While he's at it, throw in universal daycare for 1-3 year olds.
Posted by Cascadian on January 18, 2013 at 5:39 PM · Report this
17
When my daughter started kindergarten, she was reading at a 4th grade level and doing 2nd grade math. When we talked to the school about her advanced reading skills, the response was, "Don't worry, we'll have her with the other kids in no time." After she started school, she stopped wanting to do extracurricular work because A) it was above her "grade level", B) her teacher didn't want her to be advanced beyond everyone and C) none of the other kids had to.

Whether or not the kids love it, public education is nice, and provides some value in peer interaction, but it is no replacement for the time a parent can invest. I'd much rather see that $10 billion invested in college education subsidies. (Most parents are probably able to teach children basic skills, such as reading and writing, whereas most parents are probably not able to teach Calculus or college level writing skills.)
Posted by randoma on January 18, 2013 at 5:45 PM · Report this
Knat 18
As someone with no children of my own and no (current) intentions of having any, I'd be more than happy to see my taxes go to this obvious social good, rather than, say, unfunded wars or oil subsidies. Helluvah lot cheaper, too.
Posted by Knat on January 18, 2013 at 5:53 PM · Report this
19
With a five year old now and a baby due in march, I'd be elated if this happened. We had pre-school covered for about six months last year and our daughters social, vocal and analytical skills went through the roof in an incredibly short period of time.

I can personally vouch, although not through any academic way, for the benefits of early childhood education. As it is now, my wife and I are trying everything to be able to put our next one in some ECE program.
Posted by ultrasuedecushion on January 18, 2013 at 6:03 PM · Report this
20
Actually Phoebe @5 and the AssHoles (@9,10,11,14,etc) are both right.

In Real American families that actually parent their children those years are much better spent with a parent at home.

In the HomoLiberal Child Hating Qunited States of Gammorica those same children are much better off at school than they would be at home, or parked in daycare.

So it makes perfect sense that Baby Daddy Barack would offer FREE preschool to the tens of millions of unmarried Hoochie HoMama women who make up his base.....

Moral of the story: If HomoLiberal HoMamas are not going to slaughter their babies (the merciful thing to do...) they best send them off to school as soon as possible.
Posted by Keep the Children Far Away from Hoochie HoMama Sluts on January 18, 2013 at 7:05 PM · Report this
21
@17, sorry, but your post just sounds like bragging.
Posted by sarah70 on January 18, 2013 at 7:30 PM · Report this
beatgrl 22
Listen to an account of how Oklahoma (!) has already gotten away with it. Act Four of this episode of TAL.
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-ar…
Posted by beatgrl on January 18, 2013 at 7:35 PM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 23
Oh Phoebe, you wouldn't be "flamed for being a concern troll".

You would be flamed, and quite rightly so, for being so dense as to spout your ill-informed wrong opinions on Slog. Yet again.

Even after folks have (politely) pointed out links to fact-based and peer-reviewed studies that prove the opposite of what you assert.
Posted by Dr_Awesome on January 18, 2013 at 7:45 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 24
@21

Not really. School tends to pound everyone down to the same level. It makes the teachers' jobs easier, and we all know teachers are the number one top martyrs anywhere. Anything to make their jobs easier. And no bragging! Everyone be the same, or at least learn to act like you are.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on January 18, 2013 at 9:03 PM · Report this
25
Now that's something worth not subsidizing Massachusetts fisheries for!
Posted by madcap on January 18, 2013 at 9:16 PM · Report this
26
@21

(Most parents are probably able to teach children basic skills, such as reading and writing, whereas most parents are probably not able to teach Calculus or college level writing skills.)


You'd be surprised.
Posted by madcap on January 18, 2013 at 9:19 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 27
@23: Peer-reviewed studies provide important information to consider, but that is just one factor. Every situation is different, and I don't begrudge other's choices. I admit fully, I'm a relic from the old days and economic times dictate choices.
The sad part, to me anyway, is is that you're not seeing those years at home until 6 as precious as they are, and are willing to so freely subjugate the last 2 for what you see as the greater good as you see it. We can only agree to disagree on this one, there is no one size fits all.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 18, 2013 at 9:37 PM · Report this
internet_jen 28
A scary large percentage of babies are being born to single parents. I think giving all parents to pre-school their kids might bring down this percentage.
Posted by internet_jen on January 18, 2013 at 9:48 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 29
With out parental involvement, SERIOUS parental involvement, these poor and lower income children will not really benefit as what is built up at age 4 will be torn down at age 9. The parent(s) are THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT factor in a child's education, not money nor the government.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 18, 2013 at 10:08 PM · Report this
30
Yeah yeah the parents are very important. But the evidence shows that preschool has dramatic long-term benefits for poor kids. Throw all the unsubtantiated opinions and irrelevant anecdotes you all want at it, but facts is facts.

For good measure: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-ar…
Posted by madcap on January 18, 2013 at 11:40 PM · Report this
31
30

Poor kids, maybe.

Getting them out of their dysfunctional homes is advantageous to them.

But taking children from functional homes where they receive parental care and attention from competent loving parents (admittedly, rarer and rarer in the Qunited States of Gammorica...) sets those children back.

Your studies won't tell you that because your Liberal researchers are not looking to prove that and design their studies accordingly.

Surely you are aware how social "science" research (aka HomoLiberal Advocacy) works.....
Posted by Our Name Here on January 19, 2013 at 5:27 AM · Report this
Goldy 32
@27 It's not mandatory preschool. It's universal access to affordable, high quality preschool. Parents are free to opt out, but as Oklahoma has demonstrated (yes, Oklahoma funds universal preschool) most won't.
Posted by Goldy on January 19, 2013 at 5:27 AM · Report this
33
This is one Arne Duncan proposal that makes total sense!
Posted by 1971 on January 19, 2013 at 9:15 AM · Report this
Puty 34
Given that parents are free to opt out and that the benefits are indisputable, it's naughty to not support this. It would help a lot of kids.
Posted by Puty on January 19, 2013 at 11:00 AM · Report this
35
Just to chime in from a Canadian perspective..... in Ontario, we start Kindergarten at age 4 (or, in my case, 3, but my birthday's in October). It was a half day for us. I'm not sure what it is now. It was mostly playing, drawing, and learning to share, from what I remember.

I started French immersion in the second year of Kindergarten - my first year had been English, but Sesame Street made me think that learning another language would be cool.

I had no idea that the US didn't have two years of Kindergarten.
Posted by TheLurker on January 19, 2013 at 12:05 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 36
@ 35, judging from your description, your first year of kindergarten (at age four) is the same thing our four year olds get in preschool or ECE (early childhood education). Kindergarten (for five year olds) is a bit more structured, with actual lessons and a lot less in-classroom playing, because kids are five and better able to begin focusing and sitting still at desks. Not entirely, which is why it isn't "first grade," but it's a progression.

Typically, American kids have two years of preschool available to them, beginning at age 3. Depending on the district, it may or may not be offered through the public schools; there are always preschools with no affiliation to a school district, or to a private or parochial school. But it's completely voluntary, and parents usually have to pay tuition, even if it's at public school.
Posted by Matt from Denver on January 19, 2013 at 12:58 PM · Report this
ScienceNerd 37
@17 you are clearly not from the rural community where I spent some time growing up...
Posted by ScienceNerd http://stanichium.tumblr.com/ on January 19, 2013 at 12:59 PM · Report this
38
Phoebe, you are a fucking moron. EOD
Posted by firewalkwithme on January 19, 2013 at 4:08 PM · Report this
39
@37, True. Although we live in an extremely rural community now. I never knew that Band (marching bands) was such a big thing.
Posted by randoma on January 19, 2013 at 5:24 PM · Report this
yucca flower 40
Pre-school for 4 years olds? That used to be the age they put kids in kindergarten! Universal day care for anyone who needs it up to 2 years old and pre-k for ages 2+. Four and five year olds can do all day kindergarten depending on readiness. A little bit of learning, a little bit of story time, and half the day running around in the fresh air playing games.
Posted by yucca flower on January 19, 2013 at 11:05 PM · Report this
41
" the parents are very important. But the evidence shows that preschool has dramatic long-term benefits for poor kids"

Exactly. The less time po' kids spend around their mamas the better.
Posted by Give them to the State ASAP on January 20, 2013 at 7:53 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 42
@ 40, what you describe is called preschool in America. What we call Kindergarten is more structured, which is why it's reserved for five year olds.

I've never heard of Kindergarten for kids younger than five, personally. Many, many decades ago, when I was four, I went to preschool, and then Kindergarten when I was five.
Posted by Matt from Denver on January 20, 2013 at 7:58 AM · Report this
murphtall 43
L?NO NO NO! 4 year olds are in their most formative years they need to be with a parent picking up language and morals!!! Omg please no!
Posted by murphtall on January 20, 2013 at 10:46 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 44
@ 43, what's with the pearl clutching? Do you need some smelling salts?
Posted by Matt from Denver on January 20, 2013 at 1:44 PM · Report this
45
Who named this initiative, Napoleon the pig? Calling this proposal "universal" is just an outright lie, and Goldy's "yeah, I know" doesn't gild that lily.

Also pretty hilarious timing coming after this month's HHS report on the inefficacy of Head Start:
http://www.heritage.org/research/reports…
Posted by Billy Chav on January 21, 2013 at 2:47 PM · Report this
46
" 4 year olds are in their most formative years they need to be with a parent picking up language and morals!!!"

So they can learn how to cuss, smoke weed, watch TV, do nothing all day but sleep around and have multiple babies with multiple daddies? Better they be taken by the state 8 hrs a day.
Posted by They'll be Wards of the State at some point on January 21, 2013 at 7:29 PM · Report this

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