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Reduced funding for pre-K programs not all that bad

May 2, 2012

The Rock River Times ran an article last week [online: “Report: Illinois ranks high for early childhood education access for 3-year-olds,” April 10] quoting preschool advocates who claim that reduced funding for state pre-K programs is a dire situation. That claim is actually not supported by the research about early childhood education, which universally concludes that small children grow best emotionally and mentally when in a stable home with a loving parent caregiver rather than an outside institution. Pre-K programs nearly never boost such children academically and socially because they already have all the right ingredients for a good future.

Pre-K programs are actually best targeted at children who do not have a stable home or literate parents, and function as a substitute for deficient parenting or home life. These are the children that the research shows pre-K programs help. But they are a minority.

This is why advocates for universal preschool are wrong, and their advocacy is not grounded in the research, which instead demonstrates that any subsidized preschool should be targeted at these specific kids with poor homes. In a state with fiscal problems that will soon be as bad as California’s, it is important that taxpayers and parents understand that state-funded universal preschool is actually unnecessary for children’s well-being.

Joy Pullman
Education research fellow, Heartland Institute
Chicago

From the May 2-8, 2012, issue

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