Target: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Goal: Refine approach to improving public preschool education
Current plans for improving preschool education have focused more on how to fund programs than on how they will actually help children. Although federal plans for universal preschool are in place, proposed policy fails to incorporate ways to evaluate new programs. That there are benefits to attending preschool is taken as a given, according to a recent article in the New York Times. Yet, not only do we currently lack any form of quality control, but program planning overlooks crucial research that would guide programs’ effectiveness. By drawing on studies we have of what works and does not work, we may achieve our goal of making quality early education available to all.
We must resolve the disparity of access to such information. Certain curricula like “Building Blocks” for mathematics have proved their effectiveness in small-scale studies, according to the Times. Other criteria such as a warm, social environment are also widely recognized elements of a successful preschool. However, such research-based evaluations often never make it to the very schools for which they are targeted. The federal government must bridge this communication gap by making research easily available and intelligible to states.
By signing the petition below, you can help make sure our children get off to a good start.
Dear Secretary Duncan,
I am writing in regards to recent plans to improve public preschool education. Current plans for reform have focused heavily on how to fund new programs, failing to incorporate measures for evaluating such programs. Such rhetoric oversimplifies the issue and perpetuates the myth that early education programs are universally effective.
We cannot be content to just tell the public our reforms will bring benefits. We must make use of the research we already have to conduct serious program evaluations. Such assessments can help guide program planning and make sure our funds are going to the right sorts of programs. Most importantly, we must then make research available to the very schools for which it is intended and present this information in a manner that is easy to understand. I urge you to use your leadership to refine our approach to improving early education. Please ensure that vital information be placed in the hands of those most apt to use it.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Sarah Gilbert via Flickr