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.
Universal preschool may offer some benefit to disadvantaged children, but it is not what is best for the majority of children. Universal preschool will only really benefit teachers' unions and other special interest groups that stand to gain from government-subsidized preschools.
Regarding the March 27 article, "Georgia may OK Bible as textbook": I realize many people object to reading the Bible in schools.
But back in the 1930s, I was a schoolboy in England, where we students attended Anglican "Matins" in the chapel three days a week, and two Sunday services. We all also had "Bible study" classes. I had been brought up as a Methodist, but this fact made no difference to the school's requirements. And the classes and services were no hardship. I greatly enjoyed the Bible study.
But every vacation, I went back to being a Methodist, attending chapel with my family, and choosing thereby not to be a member of the Church of England.
Atheists who object to Bible readings puzzle me. Would they not have a stronger basis for their lack of faith, if they had studied the old literature?
Today I read suggestions that we all should read the Koran, so that we can better understand Iraqi, Iranian, and Afghan viewpoints, and perhaps shorten the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This would indeed help Westerners. Much of the Koran is a recounting of the Old Testament, anyway (though I have not yet found an admonition to "turn the other cheek").
North Branford, Conn.
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