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Letters: Praise for preschool

March 17, 2013
  • Teacher Janet Matthews gets the attention of preschoolers Daniela Caudillo, left, Henry Saenz and Esther Morataya in a PACE early education program.
Teacher Janet Matthews gets the attention of preschoolers Daniela Caudillo,… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

Re "Over-praising preschool," Editorial, March 13

The Times' editorial board could learn from President Obama's observation in his State of the Union address that "every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than $7 later on — by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime."

As director of the HighScope Perry Preschool experiment that found these results, I confirm that he got them exactly right.

You question the feasibility of high-quality universal preschool in part because it would be too expensive. In fact, the Perry Preschool program cost about as much per year per child as any other grade of school — uncommon for preschools today, but easily within the reach of our wealthy country. Why quibble over the price when the return to our children and our economy can be seven times as great?

Lawrence J. Schweinhart

Ypsilanti, Mich.

The writer is president of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation.

The Times' editorial is misguided. The National Institute for Early Education Research provides a full review of the peer-reviewed research on preschool and sets the record straight: The evidence strongly supports the president's early education proposal. The research shows:

High-quality preschool produces significant long-term academic and emotional gains for all students and is especially beneficial to families with limited access to early education enrichment; and Improving America's investment in the early elementary years will significantly boost the children's academic and developmental gains from high-quality preschool.

The studies that have followed children from preschool to adulthood have shown positive outcomes in what matters most: higher graduation rates, lower involvement in crime and less need for public assistance.

This fall, with the implementation of the Kindergarten Readiness Act, California became a leader in expanding access to high-quality early learning. The state should seize this tremendous opportunity for our infants, toddlers and preschoolers and leverage new federal dollars to invest wisely in our youngest learners.

Catherine Atkins


The writer is president of Preschool California.


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