First Friday Q&A: What’s the Deal with Public Preschool?

First Friday Q&A is back!

Today’s question actually comes from a recent conversation with my dad, who asked, “What’s the deal with public preschool?  Is it really necessary?”

So here are some interesting things we know about the benefits of preschool, and little bit about why we have to be aware of what type of programs generated these results, so that we can avoid a bait and switch situation.

(If you’re unable to view the video, you can also find it on YouTube here.)


Preschool ROI: 

New Research: Early Education as Economic Investment is a report from the National Conference of State Legislators with a great synopsis of the economic view of preschool and the return on program investments.

Gold Standard Programs:

Landmark studies of quality early childhood programs, such as the High Scope Perry Preschool Study, the Abecedarian Project, and the Chicago Child-Parent Center  have established a strong case for the powerful impact of early education, particularly for low-income/high-risk children.  As Ellen Galinsky outlined in her book,  Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs (*affiliate link), these programs have become the “gold standard” for early education studies because they were longitudinal, multi-faceted in measuring multiple child development outcomes, and rigorously designed as studies.

These studies, established in the 60s, 70s, and 80s (respectively), have each shown positive outcomes, not just in academic proficiency and IQ scores, but in reduced special education needs, higher graduation and employment rates, greater earnings, and fewer criminal offenses.

Beware of Bait and Switch:  Preschool programs are being sold based on the results garnered from studies of the “gold standard” programs.  These same results can not be expected if the actual programs implemented don’t resemble those programs at all and are just new vessels for “push-down” curriculum.

Do you have a child development question for First Friday Q&A?  Send it in!  I’d love to hear what’s on your mind!



Leave a Reply