The organization Pre-K Now has a blog called Inside Pre-K that shares the stories and experiences of actual pre-K teachers. The advocacy organization already does very good policy work and an excellent daily newsclipping email, and the Inside Pre-K is a very creative contribution to the advocacy world. They should be congratulated on recognizing the saturation in the policy-oriented advocacy world and choosing instead to fill an important gap with personal stories and experiences.
I tell you all that because, despite my praise of their experiential niche, I’m linking to them today because of a very good policy post. J.M. Holland, a Head Start teacher in Virginia, rebuts some tired criticisms of pre-K program effectiveness by marshalling up some evidence I hadn’t seen before:
It is strange that [pre-K critic Chester] Finn would say that only a “few tiny, costly programs targeting very poor children have shown some lasting positive effects.”
A RAND corporation study disagrees and suggests that pre-k positively impacts the impact of every child who attends. RAND suggests that in calculating potential benefit of high quality preschool, high risk students may realize 100% of benefits, medium risk students may realize 50% of benefits and low risk students may realize 25% of benefits. A voluntary universal pre-k system would increase the total number of children realizing benefits that would be passed on to our society as well as provide the most benefit to the students that most need it.
It seems that high SES students would not benefit as much from attending a public preschool program but benefits exist. Affluence does not mean a student is not at risk. In fact, high SES students have been shown to be at greater risk than low or middle SES students for depression and drug use in adolescence, both issues that are positively affected by preschool.