The Tennessean education writers were very busy putting together a series of eleven articles on Pre-K . Maybe I wasn't paying attention, but shouldn't we have gotten this series before the legislature voted? I'll list the headlines with links to the articles. If you have any interest in reading them do so, or e-mail them to yourself quickly as the Tennessean has recently begun requiring payment for archived stories.
From the Sunday, 5/22/05 edition:
Head Start wonders how it will fit into Tennessee's pre-K plansand from the Monday, 5/23/05 edition:
Day cares fear losing children to public pre-K
In the long term, Tennessee's pre-K wouldn't depend on lottery proceeds
South may lag in education overall, but it leads in pre-K
Governor: Pre-K gives kids an even chance
Agencies must play nice for pre-K plan to work
Pre-K not popular with everyone
Pre-K teachers in short supply, and new program demands more
State's pilot pre-K started small but set high standards
Price tag may limit what areas add pre-K
I sure hope I'm wrong, but I suspect this will go the way of kindergarten. That, too, was just for at-risk children, but now it's universal.
I grieve for all those young children who really need to be at home during those tender years. I'm amazed that the public school system hasn't educated parents to the point that they can pass on fundamental skills to their own children. This isn't rocket science and can be done by parents for the vast majority of children. We should be enabling parents to be their child's first teacher. The suggestion that simple lesson plans for parents to follow should be included in the "Imagination Library" was a great one and should have been tried first. But our education experts know best, or so they tell us.
And so while failing to get some 25% of their charges through a basic high school education, and somehow managing to successfully flip that failure, the educacrats have been rewarded with the care of even younger children. I'll bet you didn't even get one of their yellow "Pre-K Now" mugs, didja? Well, they haven't forgotten you. You will get the bill.
For those of you who'd like to explore alternatives check out http://universalpreschool.com/. From their main page:
"Yet, the demand for child care that stems from the increasing proportion of families that have both parents in the workforce, along with the agenda of special interest groups, have resulted in a national campaign to institutionalize all preschoolers through government mandated and funded "universal preschool." While government "preschool for all" programs may be convenient and profitable for adults, we need to stop and consider, "'What is best for young children?'"
[Added after initial posting]
Folks may also want to check http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-333es.html
"Public preschool for younger children is irresponsible, given the failure of the public school system to educate the children currently enrolled. The desire to "do something" for young children should be tempered by the facts, and proposals for universal preschool should be rejected."And I'll repeat the URL for the Tennesse Center for Policy Research's article titled "Hard Lessons Learned: Applying 40 years of government pre-K to benefit Tennesse's children today".