The direction taken in offering preschool education has attracted a lot of debate. With 40% of US 4-year olds receiving preschool education either through Head Start, pre-kindergarten or special school, there have been proposals to offer this service to 100% of kids in the US. The question remains should the federal government fund universal preschool programs for all children for uniform preparedness for elementary school? This paper offers different views on this question based on education theories and different scenarios.
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The federal government has funded several preschool programs to equip and prepare kids for their elementary education. Dubbed the head start program, it draws its strength from Piaget’s theory on education that proposes learning through activities than the conventional classroom scenario. Lessons are planned according to what activities interests the kids and have a learning process in them (Sigelman & Rider, 2003). In the US the major sources of preschool funding comes from the federal government (only kindergarten) though state and local governments supplement these funding as they are usually not enough. Definitions of preschool have varied with the inclusion of pre-kindergarten. Arguments have been made to support the inclusion of kindergarten in the public school system due to the funding problem. However, the situation is the same in public schools and this would even mean more problems for the young kids. This is because preschool learning has more to do with activities that will involve objects and thus more the average cost per kid is higher. Again preschool learning requires more one-on-one attention.
The introduction of charter schools has complicated things for preschool education and stakeholders. Some charter schools have gone ahead and introduced pre-kindergarten and have thus to some increased the number of years for learning. Nevertheless, the aim is to prepare students adequately for education in the elementary school. Invariably, the presence of charter schools is being challenged with protagonists advocating for abolition versus more support of charter schools.
Private schools have for a long time supported healthy preschool learning. Apart from funding their own elementary education, private schools have invested heavily in preschool education in order to equip their student s with the necessary skills. According to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development kids in preschool are in the preoperational stage where their egocentric attitude common in this stage restrict them to not sharing and as such functioning in a public school would be problematic due to the higher population. However, the idea not being population, it would seem that the federal government should borrow from this theory and realize the need to have better equipped pre schools and also fund for the establishment of others in order to allow development of kids and prepare theme for elementary education.
The inability of the federal government to efficiently fund public schools has been blamed for poor performance in public schools as compared to private and charter schools. In fact, introduction of the charter school, system was in response to inadequate funding from the federal government. Therefore relegating the task of financial preschool education on the federal government would increase the burden on the federal government. This would lead to lower funding for public schools while at the same time it may lead to poor preparations and learning in preschool due to poor funding.
On another note, the idea of leveling preparedness has not been applied in elementary school where there are public, private and charter schools. This classification is based on the source of funding for schools. Therefore, there is no valid reason to demand or rather enough reason to implement a uniform system for preschool while the same has not been applied in other levels of education
Empirical evidence show that private schools universally and more so in the US perform better than public school. This may be linked to poor teaching practices in public schools resulting from poor funding. As a result, placing preschool learning in the hands of the federal government means that there uniform preparedness might be achieved though the level of preparedness will have dropped. With the idea of uniform preparedness pegged on improving education, this idea will in fact be undermining and going contrary to its intended cause.
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The subject still remains open and as a new administration is about to set in, new developments in education are to be expected. This is indicated by the fact that the president elect has criticized the current system and has proposed increased funding of education. He also stresses for quality education and better rewards for instructors.