With support from major foundations and political heavy hitters like Barack Obama, universal preschool is the next big thing in education reform. Indeed, it's second only to universal health care on the liberal wish list. The goal is to offer publicly funded preschool-complete with credentialed teachers and and a standardized curriculum-to all four-year olds during the school year.
Advocates, including Yale University's Edward Zigler, argue that public investments in early education will pay dividends over the long term. Critics point out that the evidence from states that have universal preschool programs shows that whatever benefits kids receive from those programs fade out by the fourth grade.
Since preschool attendance rates in states that have universal preschool are no higher than the national average, universal preschool wouldn't even increase preschool attendance. It would, however, cost a lot of money, put lots of privately owned preschools out of business, and dramatically decrease early education options for parents.
So what do you think? Is expanding our failing K-12 system the best way to fix it?
This 10-minute documentary is hosted by reason's Nick Gillespie. It is produced by Paul Feine and Roger M. Richards.