The push for expanded pre-k programs at the General Assembly is as predictable as the Cubs failing to win a World Series (too soon?). Alas, the talking points rarely change either, and usually include talk of “thousands of children” who don’t have “access” to “early childhood education,” dooming them to a lifetime of failure.
Then there’s this. A story today at the Virginian Pilot online that frets over Norfolk schools not being able to find enough children to fill spots in the city’s pre-school program, expanded after receiving a nice grant from the federal government. This, despite the fact that the “division has been ‘very aggressive’ in trying to fill those classes through several marketing campaigns and door-to-door recruitment. But it's been difficult to find children who qualify.”
The telling statement comes from Superintendent Michael Thornton:
"There was an expectation that we had a significant number of 4-year-olds on a waiting list. However, at this point in time, we've been challenged to really, if you will, validate the details of that waiting list."
Validate the details of the waiting list? He clearly paid attention in soundbite class. The detail being, maybe there aren’t so many families desperate to send their kids to public pre-school after all?
Never mind the research that shows the effects of pre-school tend to disappear as children grow older (and yes, there is research that shows the opposite), including this recent study out of Tennessee that has researchers baffled, if you don’t support upping taxpayer funding of yet another grade level you simply hate children. Now, could there be questions over just how many families want or need this extra grade level, too?