Thursday, December 29, 2005

Teacher Watch: Preschool Definitions and Data


Since mid-December, we've heard plenty of sound-bytes regarding Rand's projections about the effects of preschool in California. But inside the rhetoric of P-16 alignment, the Rob Reiner Initiative, and First Five California ads, the details of Rand's study are lost.

Thanks to a tip from a very smart cookie and loyal reader (who, by the way, I am fortunate enough to call my sister!), you now can read a narrative about the original data extrapolated by Rand: Arthur J. Reynolds' 16-year study of a unique and intensive Chicago preschool program which has been around for thirty-four years.

In short, the Chicago Child-Parent Centers (CPC) program is sharply different from Head Start or generic "universal preschool"--CPC requires parent participation, for example, and supports kids through five or six years of early childhood. It's not a quick, temporary, fragmented or inexpensive bandaid "fix" of anything.

You'll note, at the bottom of the article, even Reynolds' optimism about CPC wanes now in the face of expected cuts to reduce the number of years students can access the program. It doesn't seem that politicians are too concerned about clarifying precisely what kind of program they want to apply in California. But with money on everyone's mind, it's doubtful that a statewide CPC program is the planned financial commitment.

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