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Universal preschool would mean universal disaster for US kids

Your March 27 editorial, "Universal preschool, universal benefits," was extraordinarily biased.

The High/Scope Perry Preschool Project referred to in the article only focused on 123 disadvantaged African-American kids. The sample group was too small to make generalizations across all preschool populations. The results not only couldn't be duplicated, they came under fire for biased reporting. Using such a flawed report as a basis for a cost-benefit analysis to justify public universal preschool programs is absurd.

The article says Head Start is successful. But the whole program may be a $50 billion boondoggle and is being revamped by President Bush due to concerns that it hasn't helped the children it claims to have helped. Saying that Head Start helped 900,000 kids in 2005 get a leg up on language arts and math skills is a gross assumption.

To follow that outrageous statement by saying a study of 14,000 students (referring to a Policy Analysis for California Education study) shows that middle-income children who "attend preschool also progress significantly in developing these skills" is misleading. The PACE study actually says, "Children from middle- and upper-income families experience modest gains in pre-reading and math skills, stemming from preschool attendance...."

Additionally, the PACE study notes, "We find that attendance in preschool centers, even for short periods of time each week, hinders the rate at which young children develop social skills and display the motivation to engage classroom tasks, as reported by their kindergarten teachers."

The social-behavioral growth of white middle- and upper-income children is stunted as a result of preschool attendance. While there may be slight cognitive increases, there are detrimental and harmful effects in social behaviors.


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