Critics of the Idea of Universal Preschool Education
The idea of universal preschool education has been gaining popularity. Its advocates say that preschool can help children learn to better themselves, improve their skills, and build strong communities. They also believe that it can save money and make our communities more safe and equitable. Despite the promise of universal preschool programs, however, there are still many arguments against it.
One of the primary criticisms is that the universal preschool model could negatively impact traditional childcare providers. The costs of universal pre-k would be increased and the number of programs available might decrease. This could leave disadvantaged children competing with the richest students for access.
Progressive politicians have argued that investing in early education benefits all children, including middle-class children. They have proposed an unprecedented expansion of federal investment in early education. While this is a noble and well-intentioned goal, the cost could overwhelm our resources.
There are some states that have implemented universal pre-k without sufficient funding. For instance, New York has a full day pre-k program for kids as young as three years old. But the quality of these programs is not yet on par with private child care centers.
Research has shown that a quality preschool program can give kids a 7-to-1 return on their investments. However, the quality of programs depends on a variety of factors, from the curriculum to staffing to professional development.
Some critics argue that pre-k is only beneficial to disadvantaged children. This argument is based on the Heckman Curve.