Should Pre-K Funds Go to Middle School?

By Cagle, Frank | News Sentinel, November 4, 2015 | Go to article overview

Should Pre-K Funds Go to Middle School?


Cagle, Frank, News Sentinel


Sometimes you just know something is a good thing, even when confronted with the evidence that it's not. We just know it has to be a good idea to start kids to school early so they can get a "head start" on other kids.

We did a study during Phil Bedesen's administration that showed that the effects of pre-K education fades by the third grade. But it was a small sample size, not corrected for variables, etc., etc., and it just couldn't be reliable. So the state contracted with prestigious Vanderbilt University to do it right and demonstrate the effectiveness of pre-K education.

The authors of the latest study admit they are puzzled by the results. The "head start" begins to fade earlier than expected and does disappear by third grade. By second grade and into third grade the kids from state pre-K under-performed kids who did not attend pre-K. Think about that for a minute. It is disturbing, and has received very little attention, that pre-K may be doing harm for some students.

Critics like state Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, who has led the effort to fully vet pre-K before the state expands the program, argues that it is one thing to fund a program with minimal results, but it is another thing entirely to fund a program that has negative effects.

The latest results are likely to result in another study, as Gov. Bill Haslam says, "to drill down" and discover why this great idea doesn't get predictable results. There has to be something we are missing here.

There have been studies done other places that indicate that boys introduced to a structured classroom at too early an age become discipline problems. …

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