The preschool evangelists will not shrivel before arguments or facts, for they believe. Their faith in preschool is strong and pure.
Just because the short-term gains for low-income students don’t last doesn’t mean they can’t last. If we can just make all preschools high-quality, and then make all elementary schools high-quality, and then make all high-schools high-quality, and then make all parents high-quality … then preschool might sustain something other than negligible improvements.
Perhaps, but almost certainly not.
More likely, if we had all high-quality schools and parents we’d once again find that whether a child learns her letters at 4 instead of 5 doesn’t make one flea-hair’s bit of difference by the time she (hopefully) graduates high-school.
Finland should give the preschool activists pause. It doesn’t, but it should.
Children don’t begin formal schooling until around 7. At first, no surprise, they don’t score as well as many countries who park their kids in classrooms at age 3 or 4. By high school, however, Finland’s students are at the top of the pack internationally, and far outperform the laggard US.
So why this national obsession with preschool? Is it to take the blame off of our ossified government k-12 system? More money for the teachers unions?
I don’t think Sara Mead and many of her fellow travelers are henchmen for the union bosses.
Perhaps it provides hope to progressives who place their faith in the power of government but have witnessed only an unyielding failure to sustain effective and meaningful reform in the government k-12 school system.
Perhaps preschool offers a distraction from the despair and fatalism fostered by so obvious a failure of the public sector. A crusade to invigorate the faithful.
Preschool is not our educational salvation, and “reform” of a moribund government k-12 system is a fool’s errand.
The most certain way to improve academic performance and life outcomes for all students in this country, rich and poor, is to expand educational freedom. Oh, and it would save each state billions of dollars too.
Look for more soon in what will soon be the inaccurately-named Preschool Tetralogy …