After Decades of Studying Pre-K, A Strong Message to Parents

[DIGEST: NPR, ABC News, Brookings, New York Times]

When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in late April an initiative to offer free full-day preschool for 3 year olds, it seemed like an inevitable next step in a country whose investment in public preschool has been growing at a fast clip.


Though free pre-K for 3 year olds is still rare — New York is one of the few cities in the nation to offer it — public pre-K for 4 year olds now serves almost 30 percent of American children in that age group. In fact, 42 states and Washington, D.C., have adopted the infrastructure for public pre-K programs for 4-year-olds, many of them free to low-income families.


But with New York’s initiative alone costing up to $1 billion and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos remaining silent on whether federal funds will be made available, the question arises: does pre-K really make a difference?

Credit: Source.

df">The Current State of Scientific Knowledge of Pre-Kindergarten Effects” reviews “the evidence on the impact of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs” by some of the biggest names in early-childhood education. Chief among its conclusions and recommendations is that children who attend public pre-K programs are better prepared for kindergarten than those who do not.


The team that compiled the report also found that low-income children see the greatest gains —  particularly those who primarily speak another language at home. “There’s substantial evidence now that, because they’re learning two languages at the same time,

they have stronger brain circuits that support self-regulation,” said Deborah Phillips of Georgetown University, one of the authors of the report. "Their capacity to incorporate new information and to switch attention from one task to another — these are the skills they bring."

However, the team pointed out that they aren’t suggesting that public pre-K be restricted to low-income and/or non-native English speakers only, as all children benefit from racial, cultural and economic diversity: “Part of what may render a pre-K classroom advantageous is the value of being immersed among a diverse array of classmates,” the report notes.


The report task force also took a look at specifically which pre-K programs were found to be the most effective — those that focus mainly on social and emotional development, for instance, or those that are more academic skills-based, such as emphasizing numbers and letters. The findings: Programs with a “well-implemented, evidenced-based curriculum” see the strongest results. "What we know is that children bring a vast array of experiences, both strengths and weaknesses," Phillips said. "Some children need more support than others. Some bring vast knowledge and skills."

In all, the report’s findings could mean more states will follow New York’s lead in expanding their pre-K programs.

"We know there's a precious opportunity to reach children at the moment when they can learn and grow the best," de Blasio said of his expansion plans. "Bluntly, in a society where people are working longer and longer hours and are more stressed in so many ways, it's going to be something a lot of parents think is practically really important for their lives."


Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images; Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Government Executive—"government's business news daily and the premier digital destination for senior leaders in the federal government's departments and agencies"—reported news from the White House that many suspected but which is now confirmed.

The Trump administration is making concerted efforts to purge the civil service of any employees not loyal to President Donald Trump.

Keep reading...
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images // Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Since the disco era of the 70s, the Village People have been a mainstay on dance floors, in arenas, and virtually every other gathering.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn't know the YMCA dance or the chorus to Macho Man.

Even President Donald Trump has used their songs in his rallies—most recently on his visit to India, where over 100,000 people watched the President enter to Macho Man, much to the glee of his supporters.

Keep reading...
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images // Seung-il Ryu/NurPhoto via Getty Images

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, concerns are growing that President Donald Trump's administration isn't doing enough to prepare for the virus coming to the United States.

Trump's Health and Human Services department was criticized this week for only requesting $2.5 billion in emergency aid—a sum that lawmakers feared wouldn't cover the supplies and services needed to contain the virus.

Keep reading...
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images // MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump's constant Twitter commentary about the Roger Stone case has made an already chaotic, years-long proceeding into an even greater circus.

Trump's former campaign advisor Roger Stone was convicted by a jury of his peers on numerous felony charges, including lying to Congress and obstructing justice. The Justice Department took the nearly unprecedented step of overriding its own prosecutors' sentencing recommendation after Trump tweeted in his former advisor's defense.

All four prosecutors resigned as a result. Stone was sentenced to three years and four months in prison.

Keep reading...
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) took a break from tweeting bible verses to chastise the performances of Democratic presidential candidates in Tuesday night's debate.

It didn't go as well as he'd hoped.

Keep reading...
C-SPAN/YouTube

For many years, the so-called miracle on ice was a point of pride for people in the United States.

A group of amateur college hockey players faced off against the Soviet Union's Red Army champions in the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.

Keep reading...