Budget Debate on Kindergarten Funding Overlooks Key Facts

Posted on May 12, 2006 | Type: In the News
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PHOENIX - Today the Arizona legislature issued a draft budget for next year and a key sticking point in the budget negotiations is expected to be funding for all-day kindergarten. Governor Napolitano requested $105 million for all-day kindergarten funding. Rather than setting aside the funding specifically for all-day kindergarten, the legislature proposed giving this amount to school districts to spend however they see fit. A new report shows all-day kindergarten funding is unlikely to raise Arizona's poor academic achievement.

The Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation has updated and released the 2005 Goldwater Institute policy report, Assessing Proposals for Preschool and Kindergarten: Essential Information for Parents, Taxpayers and Policymakers. The new report is co-authored by Goldwater Institute President Darcy Olsen and Reason Foundation Education Director Lisa Snell.

"As the all-day k funding debate rages in Arizona, policymakers and taxpayers need facts to know if these programs are worth the investment," says Darcy Olsen, president of the Goldwater Institute.

Two states have implemented universal preschool in the last ten years, Oklahoma and Georgia. The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores show that while fourth-grade reading scores have trended modestly upward nationwide, the scores of students in Georgia and Oklahoma are falling.

New findings by researchers at Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley show that preschool can hinder social development and encourage poor social behavior, such as bullying and aggression, and children who attend preschool often demonstrate a lack of motivation to participate in classroom activity. There is no widely available information on the long-term impact of preschool on these behaviors.     

Olsen continued, "Parents need to know that preschool and kindergarten can be helpful to children, but it can also be harmful. There is no evidence that children who attend preschool or all-day kindergarten perform better in school, or life. Sometimes being home with mom and dad is the best thing for a child."  

Read the updated version of Assessing Proposals for Preschool and Kindergarten: Essential Information for Parents, Taxpayers and Policymakers.

Contacts:

Starlee Rhoades, Director of Communications, Goldwater Institute, (602) 712-1257, srhoades@goldwaterinstitute.org.

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