Why School Reform Should Begin With Pre-K

In the past, too many school reform conversations have begun at the kindergarten door, but that is changing. We think it particularly noteworthy that the latest issue of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) quarterly journal American Educator features two articles devoted preschool education. In their article “The Promise of Preschool,” NIEER Co-Directors Ellen Frede and Steve Barnett make the case that preschool programs have important academic and social benefits for middle-income children as well as more disadvantaged kids and that if high-quality preschool were offered to all children, the benefits would far outweigh the costs.

American Educator assistant editor Jennifer Dubin follows up with an excellent companion piece that hones in on the ingredients that spell success at the Ignacio Cruz Early Childhood Center in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.


  1. Linda Horner on

    I so agree that preschool education is vital to a child’s success in the future endeavors. Between the two articles I must respectfully disagree with a few ideas and statements.
    1) Preschools serve 3 & 4 yr. olds– I think it is great disservice to leave out the 5 yr. olds for whom the ‘light bulb’ has not come on. Just because a child has met the age requirement of kindergarten doesn’t mean they are ready for kindergarten. This often leaves some children with a year of NO structured education. It brings into question how much they ‘lose’ over that year.
    2) Private programs are mostly lower quality than public programs (such as schools, Head start, etc.) There is no doubt that private programs have a bigger challenge since they often don’t qualify for grants and monetary help. They have to be self sufficient. There are, however a number of public programs that are not top quality and are taking advantage of the funds they are given to recruit families of higher class to improve the image of their programs. While their purpose is to provide education for the most needy, many needy families are left in the dust.
    3) ALL children should have the opportunity for a preschool education. Yes, all children should. What I think legislators fail to realize is that every place in the country is not as big as New York City, Chicago, Denver, or even Omaha. There are some small communities with fewer than 5000 or even 3000 people. When the public programs take over the preschool education, it destroys the existing private programs and also greatly impacts the child cares as well. More research before doing this in each community needs to occur. It would make more sense to channel the money to the quality existing private programs.
    Every child should receive quality preschool education, but the private and public programs need to work together.

  2. I am a private academic center. I have sacrificed profit in exchange for a quality education program starting at the age of 12months-5 years old. I really think that more money should be channeled into the private sector of those center that meet and exceed academic standards. My center prepares children for kindergarten by taking the kindergarten standards of the local district and I prepare curriculum according to age and skill. When a child master a skill we move on. All of my 3-5 learn to read before entering kindergarten which puts them at an advantage. They already know order and are well disciplined in learning time and still have fun. A lot of my children are english learners and they excel as well. I believe pre-K is for all kids unless a parent is homeschooling and that with patience and structure that all kids can learn and excel. Also it is not fair that class or money determines who gets a quality pre-education, they all need it.