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Standardized Childhood? Rifts In Universal Pre-K

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standardized childhood.jpgThe universal pre-K juggernaut is facing a few rifts, according to this EdWeek story (Scholars Split on Pre-K Teachers With B.A.s and Richard Colvin's post in Early Stories calling Bruce Fuller the bete noir of universal pre-K. Fuller is just putting out a book called Standardized Childhood. As both pieces point out, the seeming unanimity surrounding the idea of universal pre-K leaves out key programmatic and -- even more important -- ideological issues.

Previous Post: The Coming Pre K Quality Crunch

1 Comment

"Universal pre-K juggernaut is facing a few rifts."

Yes, the movement faces challenges, not the least of which is the perception that only poor kids need preschool and there is no "evidence" that a BA will assure a better education for preschoolers.

Hovever, this is not necessarily an either/or proposition. The BA requirement is yet another simple solution proposed by policy makers to address a complex problem. Which is, how do you provide preschoolers the best education possible?

I am a strong supporter of Dr. Pianta and his research that says that classroom quality is dependent on adult child interaction. This has always been the foundation of preschool, which historically has been more concerned with development of higher order thinking skills within the context of student interest than with "basic skills."

The issue gets extremely fuzzy when you move past the kindergarten level because, the measure of quality is different for preschools than for elementary schools. The preschool is "graded" on whether the WHOLE child's needs are met, not just the academic. So, with the current ideas about universal services in some schools as possible ways to address poverty, shouldn't the world look at the organizations who did it first, preschool programs?

And, the juggernaut as you describe it, is not a goliath or a monster or even an eight hundred pound gorrilla. It is the pink elephant that no one wants to talk about. And, when opposition has all of the arguments addressed one at a time including, "well how do we know it will help middle class kids?" you have to ask yourself, "Has kindergarten hurt middle class kids?" How will we know if we never try it and see?" You can always cut funding if it doesn't work.
You can't cite evidence for an experiment that has been tried.

Finally, it really comes down to the fact that this is going to be an expensive pink elephant. But, should we ever deny a child an educational resource purely because it is expensive, aren't there more important things than money?

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