Publicly funded pre-K programs enjoy broad public and political support, largely because of research suggesting that preschool graduates enjoy both short-term and long-term benefits, including improved academic and school readiness, higher graduation rates, and lower incarceration rates. Public preschool is also a financial benefit to lower- and middle-class parents, as quality pre-K can cost as much as a college tuition.
“We are at a really critical moment for pre-K in the United States,” said Suzanne Bouffard, an education researcher and author of the newly published book The Most Important Year: Pre-Kindergarten and the Future of Our Children. In 2016, enrollment in state-funded preschool programs reached an all-time high of nearly 1.5 million children in 43 states.
While Bouffard applauds the momentum to make pre-K more accessible, she said policy makers are not paying enough attention to what is happening in these classrooms.
“We need to look at how we do pre-K, not just whether we do it,” said Bouffard. Without this vision, not only will students be poorly served, lawmakers may ultimately say, “Well, we tried that, we funded it, and it didn’t work.”
“Quality,” she said, “really matters.”
Deborah Farmer Kris is a Senior Parenting Columnist at Intrepid Ed News. This article was originally published on MindShift on Sept. 15, 2017. Click here to read more.