Tennessee Comptroller John Morgan, who recently proposed a state wide property tax for schools has issued a Request For Proposals to evaluate the effectiveness of the pre-K's we've already got. I'm going to prophecy that the report will say the state-funded pre-K's have an effectiveness (that lasts at least to the 5th grade) and we need more money 'for the children'.
The evaluation will include the short term effects of Pre-K as well as the long term effects (page 18). However, their definition of long term is 3rd through 5th grade. I'd have thought 'long term' would mean 12th grade. This study isn't going to be worth anything but 'proving' that pre-K works in order to enable more classes to be created, more jobs to be created, more money to be made. The end result isn't actually educating the children else the long term effect would be much further out than just the 5th grade. I don't know of anyone that doesn't agree that in the short term pre-K helps. The question really is does it help in the long run--as in do they actually get a good education through to the 12th grade? If we expend all this time and energy on young children only to lose it several years later have we gained anything? It all becomes just a jobs program without real loooong term impact.
We're also only going to look at "state funded" pre-K programs, not those privately run. If we're going to spend funds evaluating pre-K for our children shouldn't we be willing to look everything? What's the purpose in looking at only state run classes? Because we don't recognize that public schools are in a race with private options? Because we don't want the state-run programs to look bad compared to the private ones?
Heritage Foundation info has links and mentions of specific research vs. Pre-K Now which--well--doesn't. Gotta wonder why.
Must read: Reason Foundation's report of May 2006.
“We find strong evidence that widespread adoption of preschool and full-day kindergarten is unlikely to improve student achievement,” Olsen and Snell write. “For nearly 50 years, local, state, and federal governments and diverse private sources have spent billions of dollars funding early education programs. Many early interventions have had meaningful short-term effects on grade-level retention and special education placement. However, the effects of early interventions routinely disappear after children leave the programs.”Oh, and moms and dads with children in state run pre-K programs and schools you may want to double check the paperwork next year and see if your child is going to be included in this study and if you're ok with the additional testing, monitoring and questions regarding race, economics and other family information. The contract begins in February 1, 2006 and the final comprehensive report is due January of 2010.
You're going to want to read Bill Hobbs take on this also. Thanks to Ben for forwarding the RFP link. It's good to have watchmen on the walls.