Saturday, April 17, 2010

What might pre-school cuts mean?

An article in last week's Northwest Herald decried State cuts in pre-school funds to districts. Some have cut out their pre-school programs entirely; others, including District 200, have modified them. At a D-200 school board meeting recently, I addressed the Board and suggested that the hardest-hit group will be the kids whose parents cannot afford the tuition for the modified pre-school program.

Last Monday-Tuesday I attended a two-day training program sponsored by the Parent & Educator Partnership. One of the biggest insights I had came from the question about the indicator of future incarceration. One of the major predictors of future incarceration? The reading scores of third-grade students!

The NWH article moves it down even younger. According the non-profit organization, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, "at-risk children who don't attend preschool have a greater chance of becoming criminals when they grow up." A study by the Perry Preschool program in Michigan found that "children left out of the (pre-school) program were 85 percent more likely to be sentenced to jail or prison by age 40."

A Chicago study of more than 100,000 3- and 4-year-olds over the past 42 years calculated that 24% of children who did not attend pre-school were more likely to end up in jail or prison.

So, it looks like a no-brainer now. You either pay now or pay later. Pay for pre-school or pay for prisons. The problem is, nobody wants to pay now. For anything. What this means is that we will pay later! Or our kids (or grandkids) will - one way or the other.


QuitWhiningAlready said...

This is interesting, but looking into it a bit deeper, have you really looked at the current curriculum? Granted I was in elementary school more than a few years ago, but now that I have children in the age range you're discussing, I see more potential trouble on the horizon as this generation starts to mature into adults. Reading scores of (my) third grader(s) are now based on fluency. The focus is on word recognition and how fast the child can crank it out. Reading comprehension takes a back seat, which, in my opinion is ridiculous. And with regards to the other subjects, it would seem that the kids are being taught to the test. The schools are concerned about how well they're going to rank in the state evaluations, which are based on standardized tests. But is anyone really learning anything? Unfortunately, what appears to be falling off are the necessary skills these kids are going to €need down the road...problem solving and critical thinking are sorely lacking. Throw in all the social changes (not for the better) and I am already dreading what's coming down the pike in the next 20 years or so.
And, of course, this is not absolute. We do have excellent teachers and we have good programs, but in my opinion, over the years the scales have tipped the other way. Where it used to be that the majority were in that category, it now appears to be the minority.
Preschool or no preschool, maybe we're doing them an injustice, regardless.

Gus said...

QWA, thanks for your excellent comment. I hope you are heavily involved with your kids' school(s). Demand that the PTO not be just a fund-raiser for pencils and crayons. Be involved with the teachers and the staff in creating the programs that benefit the students.

I agree with you about teaching to the tests, so that schools get high marks. Kids need to be learning how to learn. That's the life skill they need.