As a father of three boys, ages four, two, and most recently, a two month old, I have been Interested about the education options available for them. It was not until I attempted to conduct my own research on the early childhood education, specifically preschool for my oldest son, then three years old, did I realize the difficulty In doing so. Having been a member of The united States Air Force, I was afforded the opportunity to enroll my children into the robust, yet sometimes frustrating, Child Development Center that is established on each Air Force base.
Living in a world of checklists and constant inspections, I did not worry about the quality of the program. As I transitioned to be a civilian, my head began to swim at what is considered high quality education for my growing boys. I thought that I knew about preschools, it seemed like common sense to me. After the first few classroom discussions into our exploratory research papers, the overarching topic for my fellow students was “Twenty First Century Families”. I knew that my recent struggle would fit perfectly.
Starting with only a question and without a clue, I set out to find out why here were not any affordable options for high quality preschools. The Investigation began with a conversation with my wife about the topic. She reminded me that President Obama spoke about this very topic In the “2013 State of the union Address”. In a speech that took just over an hour, President Beam’s address to the nation set forth many challenges for Congress as well as the citizens of The united States of America. One challenge in particular came about half way through the speech.
Obama noted that although the secondary and collegiate education is something that should be pursed, the education of our youngest citizens would not e ignored by his administration. He goes on to state, “Every dollar we invest in high- quality early childhood education can save more than seven dollars later on by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime” (“Remarks”). I fully support this Initiative by the President. It seems easy for law makers to get wrapped up In meeting the demands for their constituents, but what about the youngest constituents?
It did not take me long to realize that what I thought I knew about the subject was about to get more complicated. However, for the future of my three boys, I looked deeper into the debate. To my surprise, President Obama brought up the same topic in the “2014 State of the Union Address”. Buried about one third of the way into the speech, President Obama transitioned into the early childhood education topic yet again. At first, I thought to myself, “If he cannot push this forward, this issue must run even deeper than I thought”. President Obama explains that the best investment in young child’s life is one of a high-quality education.
As he brought the topic to a close in his speech, President Obama states that despite Congress stalling, “thirty states have raised pre-K funding on their own” (“President”). He added, “As Congress decides what It’s going to do, I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K they need” (“President”). This put me at ease, but I was convinced that President there were going to be several political gains to be made if each state were to follow through with their end of the bargain.
Although it seemed like a strong use of taxpayer funds, I was not convinced that the expenditure was worth it. While I still support his proposal, I felt there were more layers to the onion that needed to be led back. I still did not have an answer as to why there were not any affordable preschools that I considered to be high quality. While I was sifting through dozens of abstracts through the Academic Search Complete database, there was one in particular that caught my eye from the Congressional Digest, entitled “Early Childhood Education”.
As the third source for my exploratory research paper, this article shed some light on the history of the Universal Preschool debate. The origins of the universal preschool debate began in 1965 with President Lyndon B. Johnny’s Head Start program. This eight-week summer course was aimed at low-income families with children in the kindergarten age group. It did not take long for this program to become popular both as a political topic, but also as a tool for social change. The program came at a time in America that was plagued by the war in Vietnam.
Head Start grew in size over the next 40 years. Today, there are forty-five different Federal programs that provide assistance and services to families with children under the age of five. However, there is still a long-standing debate over the continuing performance in terms of supportive services and curriculum for children ender the age of five. There is, however, no standing debate to the powerful remarks made by President Johnson in 1965 regarding the newly developed Head Start program, “Children are inheritors of poverty’s curse and not its creators.
Unless we act, these children will pass it on to the next generation” (CTD. In Early). My thought process began to shift a little. While I did know that the Head Start program existed, I did not know that it was so closely related to preschool age children. In my experience, the Head Start program was intended for those with difficulties adapting or learning in a public school setting. Still, I peeled back another layer from this debate. Using the discovery that a large number of separate Federal programs are involved with assisting families, I sought out a source from the opposite end of the debate.
The forth source I selected to help me understand the debate of “Preschool for All” was from the National Affairs Journal. David Armor and Sonic Souse wrote the article, “The Dubious Promise of Universal Preschool”. Both authors are professors at the School of Public Policy at George Mason University. I read the article with an open mind already knowing the opposing conservative lean on the Journal. David Amour and Sonic Souse recapped a brief history of the debate, also mentioning President Johnny’s initial Head Start proposal in 1965. But they quickly moved on to statistics and interpreting surveys that had been conducted.
I found myself taking notes as I learned about the rapid growth in the asses of the Head Start program that ballooned from 400,000 in the asses to nearly 900,000 children (Armor Souse 37). The authors soon dive into concerns over the quality of the program, citing again the forty-five different Federal programs that support Head Start. They further explain hat the locally developed curriculums are frequently pointed out as the weakness in the overall program (Armor Souse). Additionally, “most Head Start teachers do not background in childhood education with an associates degree (Armor Souse, 39).
I was taken back by this discovery. The quality of instruction seemed to be directly related to the experience of its instructor. The history of the Head Start Program is indeed a remarkable one. As one of the longest running Federal Government programs that attacks one of the poverty issues that exist in our country, Head Start surely has it’s merits and drawbacks. The idea of “Preschool for All” started from a modest attempt to help low-income families with small children prepare for kindergarten. It later grew into the national debate we see and participate in today.
Knowing that there were indeed instances where states have had promising success, I aimed my focus at the state of Oklahoma. According to an article I found in The New York Times using the database tool Lexis’s, “Oklahoma! Where the Kids Learn Early’, two time Pulitzer Prize winning author Nicholas Kristin depicts a story about two young girls, ages three and four aiming to break the cycle of poverty which is about so much more than a lack of money’ (Krzysztof. The girls’ great grandmother had a baby at 13, their grandmother followed with a baby at 15, “the mom had her first baby by 13, born with drugs in his system” (Krzysztof.
I was shocked as I keep reading. The inequality of these innocent children Jumped out at me. Suddenly, the debate took a different shape. In an interview that the author conducted with Republican Tulsa City Council member Skip Steele, “This isn’t a liberal issue,” he added, “this is investing in our kids, in our future. It’s a no- brainier” (Krzysztof. While I had researched nearly a dozen sources and discussed several of them here, none put the face to the story quite like this article. It is a stark reminder that there is a face behind all the numbers, figures, and charts that make up statistics.
The exploratory paper I began soon did not feel like an assignment anymore. It seemed like I was apart of a movement for the future of our nation. After conducting the research and having time to analyze the information, I still feel that Preschool for All is absolutely the right thing to do. With it’s earnest beginnings during the Vietnam War, to the humble town of Tulsa, Oklahoma, my Rooney throughout this exploratory paper was very interesting. I was surprised to find out that about the number of Federal government programs that have oversight in the Head Start program.
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