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Should preschool become mandatory? Some say yes and others no. A national campaign has been presented to institutionalize preschool programs through government funding. Mandatory Pre-Kindergarten, or Preschool, would require all preschoolers within a certain age-range to attend government preschools. The law requires attendance with penalties for not attending or truant behavior.
The idea of making preschool mandatory goes along with creating a Universal Preschool, in which the government would provide a public preschool funded by tax dollars. This preschool would be available for all children ages 2-5, regardless of family income. As of yet, there is no information on whether preschool will become mandatory in all or some states.
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Universal PreschoolThe national campaign has been made to institutionalize government-funded universal preschool. Such preschools would provide a learning environment for young children whose parents work outside the home. More educational than typical day care, universal preschools are taught by teachers with credential and low teacher:child ratios.This program is being developed based on these facts (quoted from Universal Preschool.com):1.The demand for childcare that stems from the increasing proportion of families that have both parents in the workforce.2. The increase in the number of preschoolers who are English language learners and therefore need to be identified to receive intervention for their special needs.3. The agenda of special interest groups such as corporations and teachers unions that will profit from public preschool programs.
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The Debate: Those in Favor
There are several conflicting opinions of Mandatory Pre-K and Universal Preschool. Those in favor of these programs see the benefit of preschool preparing kids academically for Kindergarten. "Proponents say that ideally, government preschools would provide a stimulating learning environment, with credentialed teachers overseeing a staff, with low staff-child ratios." (Universal Preschool)
Parents who work outside the home would benefit as well as those that can't afford preschool. Many families with young children have both parents working and need a place for kids to go. A lot of kids are already attending daycares, and a preschool setting would provide for more learning opportunities.
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The Debate: Those Against
On the other hand, early preschool is not always best for some families. "Scientific research suggests that early separation of children from their parents and too-early academics is harmful to young children." (Universal Preschool.com) Many parents prefer to teach preschool concepts on their own or don't feel rushed to put their child in preschool before entering kindergarten. A parent should not feel like they are being deemed incompetent to teach their own children.
What about other preschool and day care centers? They might suffer significantly if children preschool age are going somewhere else. There would still be infants and babies, but mandatory preschool would likely cut their attendance rates significantly.
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Whether you're for or against mandatory pre-kindergarten, it will be interesting to see what comes of this national campaign. Will we soon be sending all of our preschool-aged kids to mandatory, universal preschools? Or will things remain more the same? Whatever happens, we can hope it will be what is best for all parents and children involved.
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Photo: Google Images/ Flikr
Universal Preschool FAQ's: http://www.universalpreschool.com/faq/#whatsup
News Pushers: Pre-K Push: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/rich-noyes/2009/03/13/abc-s-stossel-obama-s-universal-pre-k-push-waste-money-reflecting-concei