We’re a little behind here in Indiana. We’re still debating the merits of all-day kindergarten, and elsewhere they’re already on to the universal-preschool debate:
Advocates argue that public investments in early education will pay dividends over the long term. Critics point out that the evidence from states that have universal preschool programs shows that whatever benefits kids receive from those programs fade out by the fourth grade.
We’ve interviewed all three of the candidates for superintendent of public instruction and a lot of school board candidates, and the fade-out point was made by some of them about all-day k. I’m just asking here, but would it be better to scrap a-d k because its effects tend to fade, or would it be better to keep it and reinforce its good effects in grades 1-3? Fort Wayne Community Schools is about to embark on an ambitious program completely reworking the high schools, but the real problem seems to be that we don’t get the kids ready enough in the early grades, and too many of them are already lost by middle school.
I’m still skeptical about universal preschool, though. It seems an awful lot like very high cost babysitting to me.