development
More Than Just A Babysitter

Five Facts To Bring You Up To Speed On The Pre-K Debate

With pre-K education making national headlines, you’ll probably want some CliffsNotes, either to help you make the decision, or just to sound smart in front of other parents. Here are five things you should know to clear up any false pre-konceptions:

1. How The Sensation Started :
Two studies conducted decades ago — the Perry Preschool Project(1960s) and the Abecedarian Project (1970s) — concluded that students with pre-K educations ended up better off (earning more money, committing fewer crimes, etc.) than the poor little felons who didn’t.

2. Reasons to Be Skeptical:
A 2012 evaluation of Head Start, however, found that participating students stopped exhibiting demonstrable gains by the third grade.

3. Reasons to Doubt the Skeptics:
The fact that children may learn skills but later lose them disregards important non-cognitive gains such as self-control and motivation, say economists. (Plus, think of how many learned skills you’ve lost!)

4. Class Questions:
Pre-K programs can either target low-income children (see New Jersey) and enrage middle-class parents, or, if the state’s willing to pony up, give universal access (see… Oklahoma?).

5. Full Day v Half Day:
Few studies exist comparing the two, although working parents tend to see the latter as a godsend worthy of a crusade.

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