Universal Preschool?

A Wichita Eagle news article, in an editorialish flavor, reports that universal preschool is a great idea.

There is a growing national push from educators and several state governors to create pre-K classes for all children. Several states have already begun to do it. National research seems to show that quality preschools keep many kids from dropping out of school and falling into crime later in life.

We’ll get to that in a moment. But consider this:

The cost of universal preschool nationwide would be in the tens of billions of dollars. The cost in Kansas would be at least in the tens of millions.

To be sure, it’s being sold as a cost-saving measure. Among the problems with universal preschool: it’s not clear at all that the problem with American education is what happens to students before they enter school. On international tests, they do well. It’s only when we get into the higher grades that Americans fall behind.

Perhaps we ought to first consider fixing the higher-level grades by improving the possibilities of charter schools, which often specialize in at-risk students, who are presumably the same population that advocates of universal preschool have in mind.

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