The Promise of Preschool: From Head Start to Universal Pre-Kindergarten

Synopsis

The past 45 years have seen the emergence of education for young children as a national issue, spurred by the initiation of the Head Start program in the 1960s, efforts to create a child care system in the 1970s, and the campaign to reform K-12 schooling in the 1980s. Today, the push to make preschool the beginning of public education for all children has gained support in many parts of the country and promises to put early education policy on the national agenda. Yet questions still remain about the best ways to shape policy that will fulfill the promise of preschool.

In The Promise of Preschool, Elizabeth Rose traces the history of decisions on early education made by presidents from Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush, by other lawmakers, and by experts, advocates, activists, and others. Using this historical context as a lens, the book shows how the past shapes today's preschool debate and provides meaningful perspective on the policy questions that need to be addressed as we move forward: Should we provide preschool to all children, or just to the neediest? Should it be run by public schools, or incorporate private child care providers? How do we most effectively ensure educational quality and success?

The Promise of Preschoolis a balanced, in-depth investigation into these and other important questions and demonstrates how an understanding of the past can stimulate valuable debate about the care and education of young children today.

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