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· Despite the lack of efforts on a national level, Education Dive reports that many cities are implementing their own universal pre-K programs for young children.
· Are universal pre-K programs a sufficient use of city funds? Does pre-K boost future success?
· Although there are conflicting opinions, research shows that pre-K works.
While some polls indicate a growing level of support for universal pre-K programs — those that serve children regardless of family income level — the implementation of the idea has not gained national traction and only exists in a few states. Pre-K still exists largely outside of states' K-12 finance systems, making it more susceptible to fluctuations in the economy and turnover in state leadership. While many states have increased funding levels for preschool programs over the past few years, as they've recovered from the recession, some large cities are not waiting for state action and are implementing their own universal pre-K programs. New York City and Washington, D.C. are clear examples, but others are also taking steps in this area.
Some experts aren't convinced that universal models are a better approach than targeting services to children with the highest needs. Others say universal programs have had mixed success. Oklahoma has offered universal pre-K for roughly two decades, and researchers are finding lasting positive results through middle school, but the state still remains well behind most other states in math and reading scores. And some critics also point out that statistics used to justify the return on investment for such programs are flawed.
Read the full article about universal pre-K by Amelia Harper at Education Dive.