Monday, November 07, 2005

States Should Invest in Universal Preschool!

Preschool for All is needed more than ever in CA - despite the 2 recent studies on the effects of preschool and childcare. The mainstream press reported on 2 new studies showing both positive and negative effects of spending long hours in organized child care and preschool - The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's study of early child care and youth development and the Stanford/UC Berkeley National Center for Education Statistics' Early Childhood Longitidinal Study.
But others are pointing to the cost-benefits and social justice and equity reasons for states' investing in preschool for all - check out for example the November 07, 2005 edition of the Christian Science Monitor
States should invest in preschool
By Andrew White

NEW YORK – Millions of middle-class and wealthy American parents assume preschool to be an important part of their 3- and 4-year-old children's lives, but that's far from the reality of this nation's working poor. At a time when the diversity of languages, educational backgrounds, and economic status among families is rapidly widening in almost every state in the nation, a massive expansion of affordable preschool is ever more essential yet still far from being realized in too many states.
One of every 4 children under age 6 in the United States today is a child of immigrants, an extraordinary increase from just a decade ago. More than half of these children are from poor families, according to a recent report from the Urban Institute. These are exactly the families and children who can benefit most from strong early-education programs.
Preschools and prekindergartens that develop the skills, imaginations, and social and emotional capacities of 3- and 4-year-olds can transform children's lives, especially when the schools include social services and education for parents, such as classes on child development, literacy, or English as a second language. The cognitive and emotional benefits, mapped out in a landmark collection of studies published by the National Research Council and the Academy of Medicine five years ago, have been even more fully documented in the years since. With rapid cognitive growth occurring in a child's first five years, it is the prime time to lay the foundations for healthy and productive lives.
While these findings are valid for all children, the results are especially powerful for children from families that don't speak English at home, who are more likely to have a low income, or whose parents haven't had much formal education.
Children from poor families who take part in strong early-education programs are much less likely to need special education services or to be held back as they get older. They are far more likely than their peers to graduate from high school, stay out of trouble with the criminal justice system, and ultimately have better economic futures. In a study of the universal prekindergarten program in Tulsa, Okla., Hispanic children showed especially impressive gains on language and other skills that led to stronger reading in primary school.
Californians may have the chance to vote for a truly universal prekindergarten plan through a ballot proposal next June.
... Immigrants have become a fundamental part of communities and the economy in suburbs and cities across the US. It's time to get past the increasingly anachronistic policy debate about whether or not working-class immigrants have a place in this country and instead learn to adapt. A big first step would be the institutionalization of full-day preschool programs that help to strengthen families and improve communities over the long haul - for everyone.
• Andrew White is director of the Center for New York City Affairs at Milano: The New School for Management and Urban Policy.
For the full aricle
In California a broad and growing coalition of educators, parents and community groups called Preschool California want every child in California to have the opportunity to go to quality preschool. We are working on a CA statewide ballot iniative for the June 2006 ballot that would make Universial high quality preschool a reality for many more Californians.Preschool should be more than just a special program for the poor, or a private advantage accessible only to the well-to-do. It should be a voluntary opportunity for every child in California.

For more info on the initiative and the growing movement to achieve publicly funded, quality preschool opportunity for all California children whose parents want to enroll them contact Preschool California

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