Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Universal Preschool Benefits Don't Last

Today's Los Angeles Times headlines "Georgia's Preschool System Gets High Marks."

But if you read beyond the headline, you discover that, as other studies have shown, any educational advantages for those who attended Georgia's state-run "universal" preschool program have vanished by 2nd or 3rd grade.

The Times: "Universal-preschool backers counter that even though the gains fade, the studies show that preschool is working. The fact that program graduates don't continue to do better, they argue, says more about the need to overhaul early elementary instruction than about weaknesses in universal preschool."

Georgia's commissioner says ""The key is to find out why they're losing those gains…. What can we do to sustain our investment?"

I don't think anyone has a clue whether the issue is preschool or, as preschool advocates claim, problems in elementary schools, but this is one of numerous studies to point out the problem with preschool "gains" petering out within a short time frame. In the meantime, it hardly makes sense for Californians to throw billions of dollars we can't afford at "preschool for all."


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