ERIC Number: ED479188
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002
Reference Count: N/A
Equal from the Start: Promoting Educational Opportunity for All Preschool Children - Learning from the French Experience. A Welcome for Every Child Series.
Neuman, Michelle J.; Peer Shanny
France and the United States share a belief in equal educational opportunity for all children. Despite efforts by both nations, equal educational opportunity has remained a elusive ideal, especially for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and even more so in the United States, where studies have shown that poor children typically enter kindergarten a full year-and-a-half behind their better-off classmates in language ability. Over the past 20 years, France has developed some impressive strategies to support young children in poor and immigrant neighborhoods. Recognizing that the French strategy cannot and should not be imported wholesale, this report explores what the United States might still learn from the French approach, and what elements of this approach might be modified to help the United States achieve the goal of giving all children a more equal start. The report first identifies and discusses the following key attributes of France's approach to early care and education for disadvantaged children: (1) voluntary, free preschool available for all children; (2) education policy that "gives more to those who have less"; (3) additional resources that flow in a non-stigmatizing, inclusive manner to "priority education zones"; (4) emphasis on very young children; (5) integration of children from immigrant backgrounds through immersion in French language and culture; and (6) comprehensive support for children's and families' needs. The report then proposes the following steps that U.S. policymakers can take to improve early care and education, especially for disadvantaged: (1) develop a system of early care and education for all children; (2) target additional resources in low-income communities to help narrow the achievement gap; (3) focus more on social and educational needs of children from immigrant and non-English speaking backgrounds; and (4) coordinate universal preschool with health and human services. The report concludes by reiterating that a universal, comprehensive approach is the best way to ensure that children from low-income and immigrant backgrounds receive the quality early learning experiences they need. (Author/HTH)
Descriptors: Change Strategies, Child Care, Disadvantaged, Early Childhood Education, Educational Policy, Equal Education
French-American Foundation, 509 Madison Avenue, Suite 310, New York, NY 10022 ($10). Tel: 212-829-8800; Fax: 212-829-8810; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.frenchamerican.org. For full text: http://www.frenchamerican.org/pubs/Equalfromthestart.pdf.
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: French-American Foundation, New York, NY.
Identifiers - Location: France; United States