If you haven’t felt it already, get ready to feel the Idaho Capitol rotunda quake with pro-state and federally funded pre-k rhetoric. Pre-K education policy is warm, fuzzy and evokes visions of kindergartners quickly raising their hands to answer ‘what does E equal’? When in reality, kindergartners are learning their ABCs, how to follow instructions and interpersonal relationships with other students. While we would all like to believe our children are raising their hands and eloquently answering ‘mc2’, it just isn't the case.
So why all the hubbub around publicly funding pre-k education? Because it is political. Some legislators love to tout it, some constituents love to hear it and the media love to report it. However, despite the political infatuation, research continues to show that pre-k education has little to no influence on future student proficiency. The Brookings Institute published Does Pre-K Work? and concluded the “best available evidence raises serious doubt that a large public investment in the expansion of pre-k for four-year-olds will have the long-term effects that advocates tout."
Putting politics aside, why is pre-k education such a hot topic? Because it is important. As the United States continues to slip in global rankings, it is imperative we give our children every advantage possible. However, as research indicates, successful pre-k education programs won't come in large public investments. Parents are the closest to their children and acknowledge that larger programs are less likely to cater to each child's unique learning needs.
Don't fret. There are solutions to pre-k education and they come in the form of school choice with emphasis on parental rights. School choice programs provide parents the freedom to decide what's best for their children.
Next January, as you feel the political pre-k rhetoric quaking in the rotunda, remember there are alternatives to huge publicly funded programs and feel comfortable speaking on behalf of your child’s unique learning needs and your parental rights.
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