An educational expert is questioning the need for universal pre-kindergarten.
Chester E. Finn is senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and chair of the task force on K-12 education. He is also author of the new book Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut. According to Finn, universal pre-K takes a one-size-fits-all approach and really fails to meet the needs of children from poor families.
“I think the universal approach strikes out on two grounds. One is that it provides a large, unnecessary windfall to millions of families that have already got their own preschool needs being reasonably well-met,” he explains. “And secondly, it does not provide the kind of intensive preschool help that a much smaller population of very needy kids should get in order to be ready to succeed in school when they get there.”
Finn contends there should be a publicly funded preschool program for needy kids, but not for middle-class families who can afford to pay for preschool themselves. He adds that most of the poor children already qualify for the Head Start program, but he says that program is not a preschool program because it focuses more on building social skills than preparing kids for school.
He would like to see the Head Start program developed into a preschool program for needy children, complete with a preschool curriculum.