ERIC Number: ED427875
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1999-Feb-9
Reference Count: N/A
Universal Preschool Is No Golden Ticket: Why Government Should Not Enter the Preschool Business. Policy Analysis No. 333.
Olsen, Darcy Ann
Many state legislators are currently debating the issue of providing universal preschool education. This document analyzes the governmental role in preschool education and concludes that government should remain neutral with regard to the provision of such programs. The paper describes steps many states have taken to implement universal preschool programs, notes that 37 states fund prekindergarten programs, suggests that it is likely that mandatory attendance in such programs will appear in the near future, and discusses declines in student achievement since the 1960s. The report challenges the arguments of universal preschool supporters that there is a child-care crisis, that preschools will provide the environment necessary to promote healthy development that parents and many child care settings fail to provide, and that preschool can inoculate children against problems associated with poor and one-parent families. The report also critiques the Perry Preschool Project, the Abecedarian Project, and Head Start. It concludes that even the largest and best known early intervention program for low income children, Head Start, has been a failure, and that evidence shows that middle-class children gain little, if anything, from early education. In addition, the report maintains that it is irresponsible to expand public schools when so many schools fail to educate the children already enrolled. The report concludes that the government should remain neutral with regard to early intervention, neither subsidizing early intervention programs nor changing the tax code to favor stay-at-home parenting. (Contains 105 notes.) (KB)
Descriptors: Early Intervention, Educational Policy, Government Role, Outcomes of Education, Preschool Education, Program Effectiveness, Public Policy
Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20001; Tel: 800-767-1241 (Toll Free); Fax: 202-842-3490; Web site: www.cato.org (Single copy, $6; $3 each for five or more copies).
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Cato Inst., Washington, DC.