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Universal Pre-K: Is it Worth the Price? Casey Roberts EDAD 684.

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1 Universal Pre-K: Is it Worth the Price? Casey Roberts EDAD 684

2 School readiness has become the number one goal set forth in the National Education Goals. These goals were established under the Bush Administration and continued under the Clinton Administration. This goal states that "By the year 2000 all children in America will start school ready to learn."

3 Universal Pre-K Facts Universal Pre-K is a movement to provide quality preschooling to all 4 year olds regardless of income. It is a state funded program as opposed to a federally funded program like Head Start. Each state has individual legislation that sets its mandates for the program. 67% of Americans think the government should pay for every child to go to preschool Currently six states have universal pre-k programs: Georgia, Oklahoma, New York, West Virginia, Florida, and Massachusetts.

4 Georgia Facts In 1995, Georgia became the first state in the country to provide pre-k to all four year olds in the state who want to participate. The program is offered in public schools, Head Start Sites, and both for-profit and non-profit private childcare centers. The Georgia Early Childhood Study 2001-04 found that children enrolled in the program made major academic progress as they advanced through first grade, eclipsing national norms in both math and language skills.

5 Oklahoma Pre-K Program Available to all 4 year olds Became universal fall 1998 Funded by state general revenues All funding flows through public schools All lead teachers must have a B.A. degree and must be early-childhood certified All lead teachers receive public school wages Maximum child/staff ratio: 10/1 Maximum group size: 20 Collaborations with Head Start programs and day care centers possible 91 % of all school districts participate 60 percent of all 4 year olds participate

6 The Effects of Oklahoma’s Universal Pre-K: An Executive Summary In September 2003 a nationally normed test was administered to 1,567 pre-k students and 3, 149 kindergarten students in Tulsa. 52% gain in Letter-Word Identification 27% gain in the Spelling Test Scores 21% gain in the Applied Problems test score Significant gains for Hispanic and African- American students (79% gain in Letter-Word Identification, 39% gain in Spelling, 54% gain in Applied Problems)

7 Costs Oklahoma now invests more than $150 million in pre-k programming and Georgia $355 million Georgia spends $3,412 per child for a full-day program Oklahoma spends $3,237 per child for a full- day program and $1,743 per child for a half- day program

8 The Other Side of the Story Senator Hillary Clinton (2007) unveiled a plan to provide states with matching funds for pre-k. She put the cost at $5 billion in the first year and increasing to $10 billion over 5 years “In January 2006,US Santa Barbara researchers found that whatever student achievement gains can be attributed to preschool attendance largely evaporates after a few years in elementary school. In other words, by about 2 nd grade skill levels of children who attended preschool and those who did not were the same and remained so throughout the rest of their education” (Pacific Research Institute) Georgia’s preschool program has cost $1.15 billion. Findings from a 2003 report by Georgia State tracked students for five years finding that any test scores from preschool “are not sustained in later years.”

9 Funding Issues In 2002 California votes rejected the proposal that would have taxed the state’s wealthiest residents so that all could attend preschool for free. The measure would have added a 1.7% income tax on individuals making at least $400,000 and couples earning more than $800,000 a year. KC district now wants to collect money from parents who can afford it. Full tuition would be $6,000.

10 Viability of a Universal Pre-K Program in South Carolina SC first established a Early Childhood Program in 1984 Each school district is required to provide at least one pre-kindergarten class which operates at least 2 and a half hours per day, five days per week, for 180 days. Enrollment priority is given to children who are disabled, have defined academic deficiencies, or speak English as a second language. School districts may conduct the classes themselves, within Head Start programs, or contract the services to a private agency. All teachers must be certified

11 Funding for Pre-K Programs State funding is awarded directly to individual school districts and allocated based on a formula that assesses the number of children in first grade who did not pass the SC School Readiness Assessment. State funding for existing programs as either decreased or remained flat while the number of children has increased over the last four years. Georgia and NC spent $3,824 and $4,819 per child compared to $1,303 in SC

12 Funding Universal Pre-K Estimated costs of a high-quality pre-k program with a six-hour school day operating throughout the entire school year is $6,000-$8,000 per child. In a gubernatorial debate, Nikki Haley said that the state can’t afford a universal pre-K program right now and said that she would look to faith-based organizations to take over the responsibility. “Get a huge-faith based coalition to develop a community project, which is preschool programs, afterschool programs, job shadowing, and mentoring, won’t cost the first dollar.”

13 Universal Pre-K: The Whole Thing Is a Scam Report by John Stossel April 2009

14 Major Issues to Be Considered Funding Curriculum Standards Collaboration between the public and private organizations Buildings, transportation, trained personnel Political barriers Use of vouchers Incremental approach (New York established its universal program as a five-year phase in process to ensure adequate funding)

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