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Letter to the Editor - Pre-K Education A No Brainer

My experiences as a parent combined with my seven years of teaching have resulted in having a strong desire, like all parents, to see my kids succeed.  Education is vital in obtaining the fruits of life. It is a widely agreed upon, and through my personal experiences, I have come to understand that more often than not a young person who grows up in a loving, caring household with parents who set high expectations, and embrace the significance education plays will live a happy and high quality of life.  A solid home environment and a commitment to education are the fundamental ingredients needed to reach life’s goals. Therefore, I believe as President Obama stated in his State of the Union address, that “high-quality preschool is available to every child in America.”

President Obama goes on to say that, “Today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program,” yet, research shows that preschool, “boosts graduation rates, reduces teen pregnancy, and even reduces violent crime….students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own. So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.”

Pre-k should be mandatory for all our youth because of its profound positives it can have on a person’s life.  My wife and I are committed to providing our children with the best opportunity to be successful, therefore there is no doubt, my two boys will go to preschool. As the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) found students who attend pre-k had higher attendance rates, higher standardized testing scores and lower special education placement rates.  Outside the academic setting, students who attended pre-k have higher lifetime wages and are less likely to be arrested for violent or drug crimes.

Critics of pre-k bring up cost, effectiveness of the program and government overreach as common arguments against pre-k.  Proof of this can be found by the article that appeared in the February 13, 2013 edition of the Wall Street Journal titled Pre-K Government. In this opinion piece the author argues, with exponentially more words, that the “feds are going to educate your toddler no matter the evidence.”  The author goes on to cite a study in which some researchers found all academic gains made by the pre-k student were eliminated by the 3rd grade.

Here’s the gist: Yes, there may be studies, albeit few, that show there really isn’t an advantage to Pre-K, but the majority of studies have results that indicate the very opposite.  Yes, President Obama has in the past on topics both related and unrelated to education called for a national policy change, yet lacked the follow through, which is frustrating.  Yes, most children will spend the majority of their days in both their pre-teenage and teenage years going to school, so what is one more year of school going to do?  A lot, as research has shown. 

As a concerned parent, I want to give my two boys, Colin and Sean, the ability to reach their full potential.   America needs to implement mandatory preschool programs in all school districts because our children cannot wait and 72% of pre-k aged children are not taking advantage of preschool. Just as a multivitamin cannot guarantee better health, nor a flu shot guarantee the receiver doesn’t get the flu, they are nonetheless called on because of the potential upsides they provide, just like pre-k.

I want all children to begin the race of life at the start line and not behind it.  I want my kids and your kids to live a higher quality of life than we have experienced.  Since I want what you want; isn’t it time that we give our children one of the tools needed to reach that expectation?  That tool is pre-K education.  

Cassidy McGowan
Teacher at Luxemburg-Casco High School


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