Universal Pre-Kindergarten, Yes or No?

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by Pre-K Teacher 1, May 30, 2011.

  1. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Jun 9, 2011

    Thank you for the link. It was a very informative article.

    They comparted the child-parent schools to Head Start, which is more developmental than academic, to my knowledge. What I am wondering is how much of the benefit results from the actual preschool curriculum, and how much is the result of the parent education and involvement? Most universal pre-k's do not have that component. As a person who teaches parent particiaption preschool, I would argue that getting the parents involved and providing parent education on child development and how to help their children learn may be as beneficial, if not more so, than the academic preschool curriculum. What do you think?
     
  2. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Jun 9, 2011

    1) Head Start is more a social services program- but here at least in CPS I find the push for academics to be more developmentally inappropriate than our Preschool For All program. Of course it depends on the classroom/teacher/school/area/neighborhood.

    2) I am not sure the Child Parent Centers were using a standard curriculum. The kids studied were in preschool in like '84 - '85. I have more links to the study if you are interested. The centers now operate 1/2 day I believe but they may still be full day using 1/2 day head start funds and 1/2 day title 1 funds. To attend a center you must live in a title 1 neighborhood.

    Things the program once had (when the children who were in the study were in the program) that it does not have now that I think were beneficial to the results:

    1) A separate - "Parent Education" teacher. A room dedicated to parent education.
    2) Required volunteer time in the school by the parents.
    3) A "follow through aspect" The kids for the most part remained in the same building from pre-k - 2nd or 3rd grade and it was these kids who showed the most success.
    4) The program was full day.
    5) A "head teacher" that managed the school separate from the principal that managed the 3rd - 8th grade.

    I don't remember all of the rest of the bonuses- but if you want the links to the study they are quite interesting to read. I did a report on the centers back in college. The "kids" are actually around my age.
     
  3. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Jun 9, 2011

  4. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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  5. LovetoteachPREK

    LovetoteachPREK Companion

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    Jun 9, 2011

    My (again public school) classroom is licensed for up to 20 and we usually are at 18 - but our state mandates a 1:10 ratio in all public preschool programs. Since I am general and special education inclusion, we have three adults in the room at all times. I know many of the other public programs in our area have similar or even better adult:child ratios.

    We are full-day, two or three days a week. Special Education students come every day. We do not spend all day (or even part of the day) doing worksheets. I think that if teachers are well-informed and educated about DAP, then the schools will not turn out little robots. We undersand their needs for rest and play, and we provide lots of both.
     
  6. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    Jun 11, 2011

    I was not referring to pre-k specifically but the entire "school" experience in terms of children becoming little robots. It is a known fact that you can teach people to read, write and do math in a matter of hours and not years.

    What is the purpose of our American Education system?

    When you look at the school experience as a whole, it stifles creativity and free thinking.

    With Universal Pre-k it would mean that children would spend more time in school! I can not advocate for this when I see what problems they are having in public school as a whole. Our standing in education as a nation has gone down compared to other developed nations. With all the money we are spending and all the extras we have in our curriculum and all the experts that are telling us what and how to educate (really indoctrinate) children, all the required licensures we must have, we should be number 1!

    It is a monoploy and creating a system where we would encourage children to spend more time in it makes me sad. :(
     
  7. Victoriassecret

    Victoriassecret Rookie

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    Jun 13, 2011

    I am from NY also , what degree must a teacher have here to teach universal Pre-K?
     
  8. prioritizepre-k

    prioritizepre-k Rookie

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    Jun 14, 2011

    There are many private preschools on Long Island that have been preparing children for Kindergarten long before UPK existed and ,yes, they are quality programs with certified teachers, etc.. These schools are finding it impossible to compete with "free" and are being forced to close their doors.

    Long Island districts must select kids via a random lottery. Need can not be a consideration. Those that would benefit most can be turned away and lose a spot to a family that can afford to pay privately for preschool.

    Districts on Long Island have cut Kindergarten to 1/2 day - yet they are still spending 1.6 million on universal pre-k (UPK)
    The structure of the program is an irresponsible use of taxpayer money.
     
  9. prioritizepre-k

    prioritizepre-k Rookie

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  10. TeacherGrl7

    TeacherGrl7 Devotee

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    Jun 14, 2011

    For what it's worth, people should know that not all districts with Universal Pre-K are paying for it. There are some Long Island districts that have taken the state funding for the program and instituted the program on their own, with district salaried teachers and all the "fixins"- I have a friend who is lucky enough to teach UPK in a district like this. Then there are other districts, like mine, where the district wants UPK for their students but cannot afford it. In this case the district does NOT take the funding OR the responsibility. Instead, they select a provider to run the program for them. In my case, my UPK program is located inside elementary schools in the district, but my boss is a woman from a local college. I will have a classroom in an elementary school until and unless they run out of classrooms- then we would be forced to find and pay for our own space. I am paid as a self-employed teacher (which sucks, but that's for another post), and the district has no control or jurisdiction over me. In this way, my district is able to provide UPK to many of its 4-year-olds, and the administration does not have to worry about funding for it. The vast, vast majority of families where I teach could not afford quality prekindergarten for their children.


    Now, can the state afford it? That's another issue entirely. I have very little knowledge of Albany's finances for Pre-K, because it is not publicized like K-12 education and reading through paperwork on their websites gives me a headache LoL. Every June my contract expires and I spend 2 months hoping and praying for the call that we got money for another year and I still have a job. That is how I find out if Albany has the money or not.


    I feel terribly for the good preschool programs that have had to close. I don't like the idea of ANYONE losing a job or a business. But unfortunately, in this economy, who can afford preschool? I talk to families in my program all the time that would not qualify for targeted programs like Head Start, but are still struggling financially and wouldn't have sent their children to preschool at all if they hadn't gotten into UPK.
     
  11. busybeeprek

    busybeeprek Rookie

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    Jun 14, 2011

    The biggest plus I see for Universal Pre-k is the ability to provide for those students who otherwise are unable to attend. In Arkansas, we have programs that provide for those that can afford it, programs for those at-risk children and nothing for in between. Those children are from families where both parents work and the child is placed in a family member or friend's home to be cared for during the day. I don't feel that is necessarily a bad thing, however, most of the time, those caregivers are not educated in early childhood education and may not be able to provide the kindergarten readiness that is needed. While we may not agree with how the public school system works, it is the public system we are forced to utilize. I think that if the system is set up properly, Universal Pre-K can work for everyone involved, private and public schools alike.
     
  12. prioritizepre-k

    prioritizepre-k Rookie

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    Jun 15, 2011

    District may not be paying for it but taxpayers are. Placing the programs inside of local elementary schools is hurting private business - forcing them to close their doors.

    This results is less income for our state. They no longer get income or real estate tax from those small businesses that are forced to close their doors. Landlords find themselves with empty buildings. There is a ripple effect of small businesses going out that is bad for our economy.

    Whether the state can afford it is the issue. Fact is, they can't. The UPK grants have been frozen for 3 years. There are many families that can afford to pay for private that are taking spaces because they won the lottery.(many in fact are very well to do) I see this first hand.

    How about expanding the parameters of Head Start so they can accommodate more kids. We should be reaching those kids most in need not creating a middle class entitlement program.

    I have done extensive research on this topic. This forum won't let me post a link but if this subject interest you, you can find a wealth of information on my blog. Prioritizepre-k (.com)
     
  13. LovetoteachPREK

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    Jun 15, 2011

    So what do families who cannot afford private preschool do if Head Start is not available in their community? Just not send their children, when all the people who CAN afford to will?

    So the first day of kindergarten the rich kids all know their ABCs and 123s and how to stand in line and listen to a story and wait their turn for the bathroom and play well with others.

    And those who didn't attend preschool, through no fault of their own, are behind already.
     
  14. prioritizepre-k

    prioritizepre-k Rookie

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    Jun 15, 2011

    The goals of "universal" pre-k programs are to lessen the achievement gap that exists in our public schools today. The research shows that kids who live in poverty or are at risk are the kids that benefit from these type type of programs.

    Advocates try to generalize the benefits to the larger population. There is no proof that a universal approach will achieve these goals. Fact is 80% of 4 year old kids in this country already attend some type of preschool. Those numbers aren't increasing. The preschool population is just being shuffled from privately paid to publicly funded. They aren't reaching more kids.

    The achievement gap exists because of poverty. The needs of the poor and the at risk need to be addressed. Our public schools can't maintain existing programs. Expanding their responsibility is not the solution.

    All money should be prioritized to those kids most in need.
     
  15. busybeeprek

    busybeeprek Rookie

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    Jun 15, 2011

    This is my point exactly. Those that have access to a pre-k are at an advantage to those who don't. It is not a matter of middle class versus high class or low class, it is a matter of those kids are not being served and in the end isn't that what we all want to do is make sure all kids are receiving the best possible education they can regardless of their situation or family income?
     
  16. LovetoteachPREK

    LovetoteachPREK Companion

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    Jun 15, 2011

    Exactly, busybee. Right now, I teach 4's in a public preschool housed in an elementary school. Some of my kids have attended a private preschool for 3s before coming to me. They already know how to interact with others and how to make choices about what to do, etc. Those who have not attended preschool show a marked difference. But that is OK, because that is what preschool is for.

    I know that many of my students would not attend preschool if the public program was not available. We are in a rural area and there is no where else to attend that is not private and is not several miles away. That was the situation before our program began. Now at least when they get to kindergarten there is not such a difference between the haves and the have nots, at least not when it comes to school readiness skills.

    Those of you coming from bigger cities might have other options and other opinions, but around here, our public preschool program is essential.

    And frankly, many of the people who can afford the private programs still take there children there, because their programs are half day and the moms stay at home and want that extra time with their children. They also often want the religious component as well. Private business can compete with public if they are offerring a different or better product. That's why there are still private elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools in existence, even though public is either free or drastically less expensive.
     
  17. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    Jun 16, 2011

    We have several private options here. In fact many of the "community programs" have state funding for 2.5 hours a day as part of a grant. The children are not allowed to do "religious" activities during the part of the session the block grant is paying for.

    When we went from 5 days a week, full day to a 4.5 day a week (one class one semester, one class the second semester gets 5 days) to a 2.5 hour program. We started losing kids that needed it the most. Also when we had to have full enrollment in May instead of September we started losing the kids who needed it the most.

    That being said, even though I have had families from "well to do" situations for the past few years more than my first few years teaching- I have made several referrals to special education to get students needed services like Speech, OT etc. Which may have been delayed and the children might have missed out on critical periods of "early intervention."

    Also- personally, I think expanding Head Start to more people is a bad idea. It is a "social services" program more than an educational one. At least in the short day here, more time is spent doing meals, teeth brushing and health checks than actually doing anything educational. Not that these aspects are not important, but when you only have 2.5 hours, you need that time to work on other things.


    Also- we have a similar issue where our state funded program may end up going to the haves vs. have nots or going to either the have nots and the have lots, but miss out on the middle man.

    We have a full day tuition option for 10,000 (7-6). They are looking into a 1/2 day option where if you don't qualify for free and reduced you pay 4,000. If you do qualify, you go for free. Which leaves out the middle that might need a subsidy, but could pay some.
     
  18. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    Jun 16, 2011


    I don't want to expand it either. Do you know how much we are investing in Head Start per child? It is staggering! It is currently in the neighborhood of $9,000 - $10,000 per child.

    I don't think it is the "preschool experience" that makes the most difference between those ready for school and those that are not. For the most part, it is actual parent involvement in helping your child in the home and an accumulation of your child's experiences. Those are choices parents make whether they are rich or poor. No matter what we do for the "poor" we will always have the achievement gap. The achievement gap is based primarily on children's life experiences and their relationships with adults in their lives. Poor parents do not need to enroll their children in ECE programs to prepare them for school. The vast majority of parents are doing just fine preparing children for school without ECE programs.

    We don't need more federal programs, extended days, etc. to reach more children. We need to revamp the ENTIRE public school system to teach children the way that they learn. They do not need to spend more time in school but less time. Children need more free time to study things that they are interested in. We don't need to force feed kids what we feel they should learn. Kids are natural learners! Turning into them and their interests is what we need.
     
  19. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    Jun 16, 2011

    The achievement gap exists because of choices that parents make not because of poverty!

    The solution is not more money or money at all. It is getting people to accept responsibility for their actions. Our society has moved away from parent responsibility to collective responsibility. The individual is responsible for the choices that they make. Yes, we want to help children, but the most important people in their lives are their parents. A lot of the "social programs" state they want to help the parents, but the subtle message is "we can do it better and you NEED our help!" (government help) In this issue of providing for the poor it is the middle class that is getting squeezed out and we are creating class warfare.
     
  20. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    Jun 16, 2011

    This is what I would like to do. I really do believe that we NEED these alternatives in education just so the government isn't running all of education!
     
  21. teacher36

    teacher36 Comrade

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    Jun 16, 2011

     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2011
  22. LovetoteachPREK

    LovetoteachPREK Companion

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    Jun 16, 2011

    If we have less school, exactly where will children be getting these life experiences? Most likely, both their parents work. I know many kids for whom extra free time would simply mean more time playing the Wii.
     
  23. prioritizepre-k

    prioritizepre-k Rookie

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  24. chicagoturtle

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    Jun 16, 2011

    I agree with you on Head Start- but I think as Kindergarten continues to become more and more and more academic we need more preschool experiences. Children still need to learn to be social with each other and need many of the important developmental aspects of what was once Kindergarten. Additionally, I teach children with special needs in preschool. I can tell you for some kids the trajectory of their lives changes by having a quality preschool program. This is for both the special education and general education children.
     
  25. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Jun 16, 2011

    :yeahthat: :thumb:

    But I also agree that K used to be this way and there are dangers of pre-k becoming too academic.
     
  26. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    Jun 19, 2011

     
  27. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Jun 19, 2011

    I have been staying out of this for a while, as I in one of those private programs that will most likely be closing when it goes all the way through here.

    I must say that to sterotype all lower class families as those of single 20yr old mom's is unrealistic. First of all the PreK Teacher 1 is right. There are plenty of educated people who are under employed or unemployed all the time, likewise, there are always children who live in families with money who are not being interacted with properly.

    There are many settings where children receive these life experiences. Child Care, private programs,nursery schools from churches, older brothers and sisters and extended families. I am sure the school CAN do it, the point PreK Teacher and I want to make is that school don't necessarily HAVE to run this period of the children's lives.

    In my personal case each child I have sent to school has been reading when they cross the threshold and all have done math well as well. We know where several countries are, what food and landscape and animals you may find. Perhaps how to count in that number. We can tell how a plant develops, what makes an insect different than a spider and who lays eggs.

    My point isn't to hurt anyone's feelings or devalue any programs. The legislature is doing that already. My point is to say that until we have a rating program in place and some Kindergarten entrance "assessments" no one will ever know which program is valuable and which one isn't. I have been asking in my area for years to educate parents about how to use their time as the first "teachers" well, and during that time to make all placements (even for the short movie date time) to be something that will help the child. Use family and teens, but how do you pick a "babysitter" that will be quality?

    No I do not think all children are entitled to ECE as provided by schools. Frankly I think only that children who qualify as delays are entitled. In may area many of even these children have failed to place due to the school knowing "they are in a program that will meet their needs and their qualification is not as strong as some."
     
  28. teacher36

    teacher36 Comrade

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    Again, I have to respectfully disagree. First of all, I certainly did not stereotype all poor people as 20 yr old single moms. I used that as an example only. I also did not say that poor means uneducated. Of course, especially in these difficult economic times, there are many poor people who are educated. My point was to disagree with the statement made by prekteacher1 that parents make a choice to either provide life experiences or not to their children. I don't agree that parents ever make a choice to not do what's best for their child (except maybe the ones who should not have had children in the first place).
    I am also not saying that universal pre-k be mandatory. Like it has been stated before, kindergarten isn't even mandated in many states, mine included. What I am saying is that it should be available to all regardless of their income. WaProvider mentions many places for "life experineces" to occur, including private schools, nurseries, older sibs, and extended families. But my point is what if these are not available to a child. It's not fair that any child should begin with a disadvantage.
    On a personal note, I put my children in a private pre-school for 3 days a week, 2 1/2 hours a day. They loved it. It was mostly social, with a little academics, but I was fortunate to be a stay at home mom and spent all of my time with them when they were not in school (it was also a cooperative preschool which allowed me to work in the classroom with them once a month). I took them to museums, zoos, parks, playgrounds, aquariums, etc. We read stories every night, we talked math when we set the table (how many plates, how many spoons, etc) we played alphabet games, etc. My children were well prepared for kindergarten. I just feel that regardless of whether or not a family can afford private care, children should be entitled to begin their schooling with as much of an advantage as possible. Done correctly, I think Universal pre-k is beneficial.
     
  29. Pre-K Teacher 1

    Pre-K Teacher 1 Comrade

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    Jun 20, 2011

    I'm just loving this discussion with other professionals!

    My idea of education does not equate to attending school.
    I wish we could send kids to school much later than we do.
    Kids don't need to spend so many YEARS in school.

    If we mandate universal pre-k, so many great schools will be forced to close their doors. We need alternatives to the public school arena. Giving public schools the green light to have universal pre-k means more kids will get caught up in this awful public system of indoctrinating children.

    Can someone please share their thoughts on why kids have to spend 12 years in this system?
     
  30. busybeeprek

    busybeeprek Rookie

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    I don't think from what I have read on this post that anyone is advocating a mandated universal pre-k. I do think that while we may not agree with the mandates of the public school system on our children, we are still required to send our children to school for a number of years, 13 in my state. Is it fair to say that only some children deserve to start those 12 or 13 years at an advantage while others start at a disadvantage? That is my main argument for universal pre-k. I don't think it should be required, but it should be available for those who choose to take advantage of it. If anyone, regardless of their economic status chooses to educate their preschooler at home, that is still their right, as it should be. I don't think we should require 3 and 4 year olds to go to school, but we should make it available.
     
  31. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Personally, I think one of the reasons children spend so much time in school is that they are no longer apprenticed to someone who is teaching them life/work skills, and there is no longer someone at home to care for them. As a society, we don't have the means to care for all our children, so we put them in school, hoping they will learn something to prepare them for the future to benefit our society, and to keep them out of trouble which would hurt society. Society pressures us to do more and more early childhood education because both parents are working and need to be relieved of the expense and responsibility of caring for children during the day. Obviously, this is a huge overgeneralization, and is meant to describe the whole problem, not individual situations.

    I think the preschool forum has "rocked" lately. Lots of thoughtful, respectful conversations.
     
  32. LovetoteachPREK

    LovetoteachPREK Companion

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    Scmom, I think you are right on the money. The 12+ years of school are a societal function. Parents need somewhere for their children to be while they are working and even though at about age 14 they would be alright without constant parental supervision, they would most likely find ways to get in trouble without an adult presence.

    150 years ago, there was not a need for all this schooling because children had too much work to do around the house and on the farmland. Our society has made life so easy for them, that many children have little responsibilities these days, other than to go to school. Unfortunately, I don't think there is any change coming soon.

    I have enjoyed this discussion. I am really passionate about my public prek program, especially because our new governor has every intention of doing away with our funding. If I were still at the private school, I'm sure my thoughts would be different. It's good to hear everyone's views.
     
  33. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Jun 20, 2011

    School attendance was one of the first things that made the children labor laws work. Prior to that the child workforce in the textile mills and what not was super prevalent. Slightly hire wages for the parent, free schools and truancy laws made the children have to get out of the mills and into a school.

    That is history.....fine.....but I would like to see us all avoid turning the schools into mills.
     

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