Pre-k turns 20: Should it be an equal priority to HOPE?

Pre-k has waiting lists throughout the state. Does it deserve more funding?  (AJC file)

Pre-k has waiting lists throughout the state. Does it deserve more funding? (AJC file)

Bobby Cagle, commissioner of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, met with the AJC a few weeks ago and talked about his first 18 months in the job.

“What we do is setting the stage for the future success of the children we serve. And that is the economic engine that is going to drive us in future years,” he said during the hour long session.

Pre-k began as a pilot 20 years ago with 750 4-years-olds from low-income Georgia families. Today, the program serves more than 84,000 children. Now open to all 4-year-olds regardless of household income, the program has waiting lists in many areas of the state.

Pre-k is funded by the Georgia Lottery, which also underwrites the HOPE Scholarship. A new report by the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute questions the funding ratio used to dispense lottery dollars to pre-k and HOPE.  The study cautions:

Georgia’s reputation as a leader in early childhood education is slipping away. Despite an abundance of evidence that early learning is a key to success later in life, particularly for low-income and at-risk youth, recent spending cuts mean Georgia’s Pre-Kindergarten program will serve 2,000 fewer children in the coming school year. Class sizes have grown, the school year has been shortened and Pre-K centers have less money to work with.

Pre-K, like HOPE scholarships for college students, is funded with revenue from the Georgia Lottery.
However, HOPE’s increasing cost threatens the viability of both programs. In recent years, Pre-K has
typically received about one-third of annual lottery dollars set aside for education. For 2011, a total of $1.1
billion was allocated, with Pre-K receiving $332.7 million and HOPE getting the rest.

These lottery dollars funded 84,300 Pre-K slots across Georgia’s 159 counties, with an average cost of $3,947 per pupil. The funding per slot varies across counties and is based on location, teacher credential, type of provider (public versus private), and the number of students. Pre-K funding has been cut by $56 million since 2011, resulting in fewer Pre-K slots, larger classroom sizes, and a shorter school year.

Among Cagle’s comments during his meeting with the AJC:

•His agency is embarking on a voluntary quality ratings system of child care centers in the state. They have 777 centers volunteering to be rated under a star system. The agency is using the University of North Carolina experts to create the system. “We are aiming to make this the best quality rating system in the country,” he said.

•Cagle used his emergency power to shut down centers five times in the last year. “I don’t want to put a small business out of business, but, at the same time, what comes first is children’s safety,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of quality we provide in pre-k if we don’t get health and safety right.”

•His agency has also increased its use of fines, using them in excess of 50 percent above the prior year. The agency also had a 44 percent increase in licensing revocations. “Our goal to work with these centers to improve this. We don’t think there is adequate supply of quality centers the way it is,” he said

•The first thing he heard on his new job — cut $100 million. As an alternative to cutting pre-k classes to half day, his agency supported a compromise: Class sizes increased from 20 to 22 students and the school year was shortened from 180 days to 160.

“What that has done is make this a less attractive teaching position,” said Cagle. Now, the state has added back 10 days to stem the exodus of pre-k teachers unhappy with their reduced paychecks.

“The governor’s goal is to add back all 20 days and bring down number of students to 20 students,” he said. “But it took $7 million to add back 10 days, so it will take an additional $7 million to add the remaining 10 days.” Cagle said his first priority would be adding back the additional days to keep teachers and then take on  bringing down class sizes.

•With the rise in class size, Cagle expects Georgia to slip in national quality ratings. Georgia is ranked 4th in the nation in the number of children who have access to the program and is covering 60 percent of all 4-years-old in the state. “We have something in our program to be very, very proud of,” Cagle said.

He cited a comment from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke that every dollar invested in early childhood education yields $10. Cagle also said research shows that pre-k benefits kids from all households. (Some research has suggested middle-class kid fare as well in school without a foundation of pre-k since their home life offers enrichment and education.)

•Why aren’t all low-income kids taking advantage of free pre-k? “I think that it could be just awareness,” he said. “Even after 20 years, there are parents who aren’t aware. ”

•Pre-k now serves 84,000 students.  There are waiting lists in most counties around the state. At last count, the waiting list had 8,000 children.

•On a funding system that favors HOPE over pre-k, Cagle said:

“It is wrong to pit HOPE and pre-k against the other. Both are positive programs. The funding is a policy debate for legislators and governors. They have determined this is the way to do it.”

•Cagle’s response to critics of the state’s budget reductions who want to see early childhood education opportunities expanded to low-income 3-year-olds:

“I think they need to be reminded that we are in the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Maintaining what we have maintained is something the  state can be very proud of. Should we be moving in the direction they are talking about? Yes, but how we get there is another question.  All citizens need to weigh in on this with their legislators and governor’s office.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

75 comments Add your comment

Holly Jones

September 4th, 2012
9:39 am

I’ve always seen Pre-K and HOPE as bookends- hopefully we start them off right, particularly the lower income kids, and then they are able to afford and achieve a college education. HOPE was allowed– or maybe encouraged- to run wild with colleges raising tuition and fees well beyond the rate of inflation, and thus it ate more than its fair share of the revenues. I don’t know what the funding formula is, but, like QBE and equalization grants, it needs to be reexamined.

I also think that we may have shot ourselves in the foot by opening it to all kids regardless of income. Like HOPE, I’m willing to bet that a large portion of the kids in lottery-funded pre-K would have been in preschool anyway. That leaves less money to have spots for the kids who are missing out on those important early learning years.

Entitlement Society

September 4th, 2012
9:41 am

Help me understand… Pre-K is a full day? “As an alternative to cutting pre-k classes to half day, his agency supported a compromise: Class sizes increased from 20 to 22 students and the school year was shortened from 180 days to 160.”

No 4-year old child needs to be or should be at school for a whole day any way! A full day of school is just too much for any 4-year old child. I would suspect the majority of it turns into glorified babysitting at the taxpayers’ expense. Make it a half day program and twice the number of children can attend while teachers can still work a full day.

[...] GBPI’s recently released report on Georgia’s Pre-K program and the HOPE program is cited in this article on the Pre-K program.  Read full article here. [...]

bootney farnsworth

September 4th, 2012
9:47 am

nope.

pre K , for whatever was intended, has essentially become a free year of day care.
its a luxury we just can’t afford right now

Soccermom

September 4th, 2012
9:51 am

If I remember correctly, I have read studies showing that, by third grade, students who did not attend preschool had caught up with the students who did attend preschool. Of course, that information may pertain to mainly middle-class children. If the information in this column is true, it troubles me that Pre-K spots are given out by lottery when it would be best to give these classroom spots to lower income families. However, I would make the stipulation that this type of allocation is much different from the merit-based HOPE scholarship. HOPE should NOT be a need-based scholarship, in my opinion.

I still firmly believe that lottery Pre-K funding should take a backseat to HOPE funding. As I have stated before, there are many people who can teach ABCs and 123s but few people can teach college level courses. Likewise, there are many places (including the home) where ABCs and 123s can be learned but college degrees can only be earned at a college. These facts, combined with the data I mentioned above, argue for discontinuing the funding of Pre-Ks with lottery money.

Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, I am the parent of two college students ;)

Linda

September 4th, 2012
9:53 am

Entitlement Society – YES! Would love to hear why we don’t do that. Inconvenience to parents should NOT be the consideration for making it a full day, but I am willing to bet that is the reason. Never mind what’s best for kids!

Solutions

September 4th, 2012
10:01 am

Pre K is useless as anything other than free babysitting for the poor.
Since the program has been in effect for 20 years, should the poor children of color not by now be doing much better in public school? The fact that they are not doing better, in fact they are doing worse, is apparently not enough to prove you cannot increase low IQ with education. Stop wasting time and money on the low IQ people, they will never amount to much more than menial laborers at best. Spend the money where it will do some good, on educating to their full potential the top 10% of students based on IQ scores. I suggest also that public school not begin until the child is at least 8 years old, an age at which they are mature enough to be educated.

Jackie

September 4th, 2012
10:09 am

Yes! Georgia needs to do everything it can to improve the education of our children. There are several studies that show pre-school has long-term benefits – the Perry Pre-school Experiment, the Abecedarian Project, the Chicago Child-Parent Program, etc. Please spend my tax dollars on education, and early childhood education especially!

Ronin

September 4th, 2012
10:14 am

At 20 years into the program, you would think that there would be measurable improvement that would reflect in test scores in middle and high school. However, that’s not the case. Graduation rates have gone down since 1982.
The question: Is the state getting $4,000.00 per child worth of results for a four year old attending from 8:30 until 1:30, or is this simply state funded nanny care?

If high school testing scores are the measure of success, it appears that pre-k makes little if any difference, long term.

Bill

September 4th, 2012
10:17 am

I support Ga Pre-K, it helped our son out a lot. He is speaking better, and writing his letters well. It was a half day well spent.

Ernest

September 4th, 2012
10:32 am

I’m a strong proponent of early childhood education and see this as a critical offering in helping to enlarge the pool of educated workers in GA. There is a lot of data to support the importance of early childhood education, especially for children in lower income households. Businesses will seek to establish operations where they see a commitment by the populace to invest in education because this can reduce the amount of training required after workers are employed.

When Georgia removed the income caps on Pre-K and Hope, it allowed more citizens to take advantage of both programs. Perhaps a generous ‘payment sliding scale’ could be added to provide additional subsidies to both programs. For example, for family incomes less that $100K (this number can be adjusted accordingly), Pre-K and HOPE will fund 100%(also taking into consideration current GPA rules) and for family incomes greater than $175K (again this can be adjusted accordingly), both programs are funded at 75% (subject to adjustment). This ensures that those that need the assistance can get it while also providing incentives for those that can afford Pre-K or HOPE to still benefit however pay a subsidy. More creative ideas are needed if we want to make sure Pre-K and HOPE are available for future generations.

Returning DCSS Parent

September 4th, 2012
10:42 am

@ Solutions

Typical response. Shame on you. You are showing how much you don’t know about children of color. I came from a poor background in NYC, but had a mother that insisted on excellence both in and out of the classroom. I have a degree and so do most of my 6 siblings. Pre-K is a blessing for MOST children regardless of color. An early start is extremely important for many of these children so that they can be productive members of society and not a drain. A child can have a high IQ but if they are not exposed to math, science, etc. they will not do well. IQ does not determine success in life.

George Bush

September 4th, 2012
10:50 am

FREE DAY CARE disguised as a supposed educational program -Billions of dollara spent and where are the results? Has dropout rate improved significantly? Test scores show much progress? Students better prepared for college? Who checks to see that any teaching is going on? Who monitors the programs. Judging by all the storefront and church “approved” Pre-k programs there would be hundreds of monitors.Of course there are not. Apparently as long as you submit a curriculum package you are “approved” for all the FREE government dollars. Always amusing that those quoted about the “benefit” and desperate need of pre-k have a vested interest in keeping it going and pouring more money in the pit.

Solutions

September 4th, 2012
10:56 am

Returning DCSS Parent – Thank you for supporting my argument, at least 60 and most likely more than 80% of IQ is genetic. The fact that you and most of your six siblings have college degrees is support for the genetic argument. You are most likely in the top 2% of the IQ distribution for your race, meaning your IQ can be estimated at 115 or more, and so can the IQ’s of your siblings. Now if you were of East Asian race, we would have to estimate your IQ at 140+ based on the same credentials. I note that you do not attribute your academic success to a Pre-K program, so how exactly can claim “Pre-K is a blessing for MOST children regardless of color. An early start is extremely important for many of these children so that they can be productive members of society and not a drain” is not apparent from your arguments. I would like to point out that the most successful school system in the world (a Northern European country) does not start school until the child in 8 years of age. Within a couple of years, these children are leading the world in scores on standardized tests. I believe starting school prior to age 8 actually hurts students who are a little slower to mature, as it conditions them against learning by convincing them they cannot learn.

Atlanta Mom

September 4th, 2012
10:58 am

Pre-k should be funded by zipcode. If your pre-k school is located in a zipcode where the average income in three times the state average, no free pre-k for you. No free pre-k in Buckhead, Midtown or Alpharetta.

td

September 4th, 2012
11:02 am

Since we have been able to see children totally completing K-12 then should we not have studies to prove one way or the other if this program has increased the scores of the children they served or is a waste of time and money? Where is the research and the studies?

Solutions

September 4th, 2012
11:04 am

Atlanta Mom – In that case, do not even attempt to collect taxes in Buckhead, Midtown or Alpharetta.

Solutions

September 4th, 2012
11:08 am

When we Republicans have a super majority in the Georgia House and Senate, we will eliminate all of these free give away programs, and that includes the worthless Georgia PBS. Come November, it is Super Majority time!

Atlanta Mom

September 4th, 2012
11:09 am

Solutions–please remember, this is lottery money, not taxes.

Irisheyes

September 4th, 2012
11:12 am

“Atlanta Mom – In that case, do not even attempt to collect taxes in Buckhead, Midtown or Alpharetta.”

@Solutions, you are showing your ignorance. Pre-K isn’t paid with tax dollars.

ya mama

September 4th, 2012
11:12 am

I was waiting for the “glorified babysitting” comments to come, and here they are! Those who say this must not have children. My son just started Pre-K, and we are very happy with it. We are not low income, actually we live in Alpharetta and make good money. We should have the same rights as “low income” people to get our child in GA Pre K. Our school had a lottery, but since our son has been there he got first priority. That’s the way it goes. We have paid our school for years and it was time for a break!

catlady

September 4th, 2012
11:17 am

As a former kindergarten teacher, I am in support of pre-k. I would like to see it targeted toward poorer areas, however, and making it partial-pay for incomes above some point.

I am also for the HOPE scholarship, which I do NOT think should be needs-based.

I suspect if we paid those who run the lottery more in line with their skills, and if we recouped ALL the 35% that the lottery is SUPPOSED to put toward HOPE/PreK we would be in much better shape. Link HOPE to an SAT/ACT score, but it should be for all!

Solutions

September 4th, 2012
11:20 am

Atlanta Mom and Irish Eyes – “Pre-K isn’t paid with tax dollars” – YET, already there are demands for more money to fund preK, are the citizens of Buckhead, Alpharetta and MidTown somehow less deserving that they should be excluded from this government program? I am sick of these “needs based” programs that collect taxes from the workers to give to the non workers! Tax or lottery, the money is technically “State Funds” and could be used to offset some State income tax, a much better use of the dollars!

blahblahblah

September 4th, 2012
11:28 am

Grew up in New York state. Never went to pre-k, and when I started public school kindergarten was only 1/2 day. Our elementary had a morning K and an afternoon K. We only started full day classes in 1st grade. Is all of this extra schooling (at a heavy financial cost) yielding superior results? I’m thinking not.

Results=funding

September 4th, 2012
11:32 am

How about testing first grader. If your child starts first grade with no basic skills but yet attended a pre k funded by HOPE, you owe that money back b/c it was obviously wasted on a sham program. That let’s every child go but places a big burden on the parents to make sure that it is not daycare. That would expose the daycare places posing as legitimate schools. Wouldn’t be hard to scan a list to see which places continue to pop up. Until parents are made to care($$$) about education nothing will change except the number of hands out.

William Casey

September 4th, 2012
11:34 am

@SOLUTIONS: What do you do for a living? You’re always talking about “workers,” so I naturally wonder what work you do.

Solutions

September 4th, 2012
11:41 am

William Casey – I clip coupons (bonds), I have been retired for the last half decade.

Solutions

September 4th, 2012
11:45 am

Atlanta Mom – On further reflection, I can be convinced to exclude Buckhead, Midtown, and Alpharetta from the free Hope PreK program, as the exclusion will help keep the “undesirables” out of the nicer areas.

Renee

September 4th, 2012
11:52 am

The Georgia Lottery funded Pre-K that my first child attended was a total waste of the taxpayer’s money. He is 16 now, so it had been in place for four years when he started. In my mind, that was plenty of time to have worked out the “kinks” in the program. Yet it was still nothing to write home about. I sent my second child to a church preschool that was a much more effective learning environment.

Hall Mom

September 4th, 2012
12:03 pm

I understand some of the Pre-K teachers left because of the additional education requirements. Are they now required to have a 4-year degree to teach Pre-K? Talk about silly!

I agree with first poster Holly: Pre-K should be needs based, and only 1/2 day. I seem to remember the backlash from parents for dropping to half a day was that they didn’t know what to do with their kids the other 1/2 day. This is not part of the pre-k mandate. I’m sure an enterprising soul will figure out how they can work around a parents work schedule. This is not free daycare!

Required

September 4th, 2012
12:18 pm

GA Pre-K is a joke and should be eliminated. It is nothing more than lottery funded child care (and poor child care at that).

I put my boys, one infant, one approaching age 4, in a brand new daycare that opened not far from our home. The center was doing an excellent job, for a few months, right up until the GA-Pre-K “program” started and they began receiving their Pre-K funding. The entire facility immediately went down hill. (I was told by someone at the state level that this was often the case.)

The Pre-K program wasn’t even allowed to teach the children the alphabet. My son was told he was not allowed to write his name on his own papers because it would make the other children feel bad (as some of them hadn’t yet learned the skill). Really?

There were many other situations as well that proved to me that Pre-K program is a complete joke. Pre-K is a complete waste of lottery funds.

Carl

September 4th, 2012
12:21 pm

Tie HOPE to SAT scores instead of GPA … then you would have enough funds to adequately fund Pre-K and HOPE.

Atl Parent

September 4th, 2012
12:23 pm

The evidence for the value of Pre-K is overwhelming. It is one of the most prudent investments a society can make. Children who go to Pre-K are more likely to go to college, more likely to have good jobs (and pay taxes), less likely to go to prison, etc. etc. Over the long run, we SAVE money (a LOT) by funding Pre-K. Georgia should be proud of its Pre-K funding history, and whether its detractors realize it or not, we are just beginning to benefit from that investment 20 years ago.

By the way, most of the value of Pre-K comes in the acquisition of so-called “soft skills”: working with others, sharing, being able to line up, getting used to a schedule, etc. The benefits of Pre-K fade when you simply look a couple of years out at reading and math tests…but when you follow Pre-K cohorts over many years, you see profound differences (on average–of course, there are individual exceptions) in the lives they live as adults vs. their non-Pre-K peers. Those are differences that benefit everyone in our society.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

September 4th, 2012
12:29 pm

It’s my understanding that Georgia’s Pre-K program is seen as a national model. A lot of useless comments here today from folks who seem to have no knowledge of the program, or understanding that the lottery was only approved bc funds are directed to Pre-K/HOPE. My children have benefitted immensely from the state Pre-K program, and I hope that many more children have this opportunity in the future.

Entitlement Society

September 4th, 2012
12:30 pm

@Atl Parent – could you please post a link to the evidence? Thanks.

Bernie

September 4th, 2012
12:42 pm

The Investment in the Pre-K plan is a WIN WIN for all involved. The child, parent, educational system and society as a whole. It puts in place at an early age as to what is expected as a productive citizen. As time moves forward this investment will prove even further as a well spent decision on the citizens of Georgia.

As Far as a State Wide Charter School System that selectively chooses who succeeds and fails. The political Leadership of this State has refused to deal with our failing school system, in its present state. He has opted out for a system that picks and chooses those students that have the most chance of being successful. While leaving the majority remaining, to grapple and hope that success will arrive at their doorstep magically.

Its a Fools dream in the making and planning! However, this matter as a decision will be at their feet shortly. Just as in the investment in the pre-K plan a similar plan must be afforded to their older counterparts. To deny that reality will only fill more Prisons and courts than we can barely keep up with now. Georgia now has $430million to invest in what it already has or use that investment to start something NEW, untested, marginal at best and at its worst serves only a few at the cost of Thousands.

Atl Parent

September 4th, 2012
12:54 pm

Augusta Exile

September 4th, 2012
12:56 pm

I agree with Atl parent – Pre-K should not teach letters, children that age need work on social skills and fine motor skill development. A challenge for working parents (equals middle class parents and working poor) is that the state funded pre-K only covers part of the cost for a full day, in an amazing number of cases, the added cost for before and after-school care in a private setting adds up to cost for a full day of day care. So why is pre-K needed? Many day cares claim that videos are “educational”, reinforcing our societal addiction. Run, don’t walk, if the focus of the “classroom” is a monitor. And I don’t care if a 4 year old can read – as long the child is reading well by the age of 8 or 9, the age they started reading does not matter. Other skills do matter – to do well later in school, 4 year olds need exposure to books, listening skills, focusing, and small item manipulation. Plus a good share of exercise (active play). For example: the Montessori model is very successful (it was not developed for the “high IQ” elite).

Maureen Downey

September 4th, 2012
12:56 pm

For folks wanting info on the pay-off from pre-k: The link from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke in my post takes you to his speech on the issue.
Maureen

yuzeyurbrane

September 4th, 2012
1:07 pm

It always come back to whether Georgia is willing to make all education a priority investment in our future. The Georgia Constitution says it is. But we have to put our money where our mouth is. And that means making choices. Unfortunately, under Deal and his buds, I have little hope.

Proud Teacher

September 4th, 2012
1:08 pm

I feel someone with common sense and not driven by any special interest group should first figure out the best way to ensure that all Georgia children receive a good foundation for learning in early childhood education. This decision should not be formatted on any institute that profits from the sale of their educational program for there is no one answer to this problem. There is far too much snatch-n-grab a program and/or cut-n-run when met with the need to alter and improve a program. A curriculum is a casserole of education. All ingredients must be in proper proportion or the entire dish will be ruined. Georgia education can be salvaged , but common sense and balance of innovations of education must be the basic tenets. Present self-proclaimed gurus of education need not apply. Once this has been established, better use of public funds for education can be utilized. Charter schools need not apply because they will not be needed. A consolidation of efforts by school systems will devise any special programs needed such as virtual schools and nearby community colleges and technical schools. Every effort should be made to preserve the public neighborhood school! Discipline, integrity, and ambition must be pervasive in parents, teachers, and students.

I believe in an Education Utopia. It is far more pleasing to think about what could be rather than this muddled quagmire of education in Georgia that has been created by those who just don’t understand the day-to-day workings of a classroom.

Elizabeth

September 4th, 2012
1:11 pm

No, it should not; but it will be because parents want free day care. No four-year-old should be in school all day. No one cares about that, however.

Van Jones

September 4th, 2012
1:18 pm

Pre-K at my kids’ Fulton Co. elementary school has been great. To summarize Atl Parent, they essentially learn how to go to school. They walk single-file, eat in the lunchroom, go to the library, music, PE, etc. They also have successes that generate pride and enthusiasm. They see other kids get in trouble. They interact with other kids and adults and they LEARN! Both of mine could read before the end of their pre-K year.

Solutions

September 4th, 2012
1:21 pm

If Ben’s unsupported allegations are true, then why is the performance of the PreK kids in public school so very, very poor? Ben cites reports from people who have a vested interest in funding PreK, and I suspect their alleged research is designed to show only their preferred outcome.

alm

September 4th, 2012
1:21 pm

Pre-K is NOT babysitting and it should not take a backseat to HOPE. There’s a lot of talk about how not all kids are college material but ALL kids need to be ready for elementary school.
There’s also a lot of talk aobut grade inflation and it’s link to HOPE. Maybe HOPE should be based on SAT/ACT scores.

Solutions

September 4th, 2012
1:26 pm

“The average high school grade point average for those accepted to Georgia Tech for the fall semester is 3.9 with an average SAT score of 1430 or 2105 with writing included.” I bet there are no Hope PreK kids in this group!

Once Again

September 4th, 2012
1:37 pm

Pre-K is just a free babysitting service that parents can take advantage of even sooner than the elementary school babysitting service they will utilize in future years.

We demand nothing of parents as far as early education – we spoon feed them – and we wonder why the dependency problem gets worse and worse.

At least at one time the program was just for the poor. Now it is for everyone and there are now waiting lists statewide. Surprised?? Who doesn’t take advantage of “free stuff” when you offer it?

The more dependants the more government employees, the more votes for democratic candidates (generally speaking) and the greater dependance of society on failed government programs.

End the program, end government schooling in general, restore a truly free and competitive market in daycare, elementary, and secondary education. We owe it to our society and we owe it to our children.

Mary Frances Van Houten

September 4th, 2012
2:02 pm

As a GA pre-k teacher I take great offense to some of these comments! I am sure that in some areas it has turned into a over-glorified babysitting service, but not at my school. The children do attend a full day, but that also includes a naptime (1 Hour) which is when the teacher and parapro get the room ready for the next day. We TEACH many skills and lessons ranging from life skills (germs, safety issues, etc.) to hibernation, echolocation, etc. My students and the students in the other classes at my school benefit immensely from this program-just ask the kindergarten teachers. I would challenge and encourage many of the nay sayers to come and spend a day with us and see how they feel afterward.

Janet

September 4th, 2012
2:12 pm

I support the Georgia Pre-k program, even though I chose not to send my children. I chose to put my children thru a private/church pre-k program which provides smaller class sizes and much higher quality education (despite being only a half day program), whereas the state pre–k usually only provides the minimum skills necessary.

However, my kids do attend public school, and for that reason, I support the Free Georgia Pre-k. If my kids will be sitting in class with lower income kids from undereducated backgrounds, then I would prefer that those kids have some “basic” knowledge/skills so they don’t slow the learning enviornment to a halt for everyone.

I live in South Forsyth County where to my suprise there were several nice facilities that still had openings for the free Georgia Pre-k several weeks into the school year. Doesn’t seem to be in high demand here.

Another Voice

September 4th, 2012
2:37 pm

Pre-K funded by thte state is NOT a full-day program. However, many locations offer an “extended day” program for Pre-K students at a small fee – similar to the hourly rate that woudl be charged if the child was in a pre-school program.

And for those who haven’t bee, it is not “glorified babysitting”. It sets the expectations for learning so students are prepared for Kindergarten – they have dealt with separation anxiety, learning how to play with others, etc. For children who didn’t participate in a pre-school program, it helps the child to get those skills BEFORE kindergarten, so that the Kindergarten level isn’t dealing with those matters.

I would also like to see the longitudinal studies of Pre-K through 12th or beyond. However, the first 5 years of lottery-funded pre-K supported a very small group (relative to the 80,000+ of 2012), so it may be difficult to make any statistical claims on impact. But overall, I believe that it helps, especially in situations where the parents are not well-educated or are unable to provide learning experiences, such as reading to children.