Sending little children to preschool has become very popular in recent years. The Department of Education estimates that back in 1965, only 5% of three-year-olds and 16% of four-year-olds attended preschool. By the year 2000, 42% of three-year-olds and 68% of four-year-olds were enrolled in preschool. These percentages have continued to rise, and dozens of politicians are convinced that endorsing what is now called Pre-K (meaning Pre-Kindergarten) will be a plus in their political campaign.
However, the data on the educational benefits of Pre-K show no significant gain during this period. Performance on national tests and graduation rates have not improved and, in some cases, have gotten worse There is also evidence that greater enrollment in preschool could lead to some adverse outcomes, such as problem behaviors. One study at Stanford University and the University of California/Berkeley concluded that kindergartners who attended more than 15 hours of preschool a week were more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior in class.
There is evidence to suggest that there is a link between the amount of time young children spend outside of their parents' care and behavioral problems. The more time children spend in non-maternal care during the first 4-1/2 years of life, the more problems and conflict with adults they manifest, according to reports from mothers, caregivers, and teachers. More time in non-maternal daycare results in problem behaviors, such as too much assertiveness, disobedience, and aggression.
The evidence simply does not support the claims of universal preschool proponents that an investment in early education will pay off in improving the educational and life prospects of the general population. But despite that research, enormous amounts of federal and state taxpayers' money are going into Pre-K.
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