A policy proposal for universally available public education for four-year-olds
Abel, Margaret J.
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The policy debate regarding university non-com- pul sory programs for four-year-olds is presented. Information of programs is acquired through interviews and literature, supplied from different types of preschools throughout the nation. Policy implications are drawn from conducted reviews of literature that universal early education becomes a non-compulsory part of the public school system, accessible to all four-year-olds. The purpose of this study was to construct a policy argument for universal, but optional, education for four- year-olds within the public school system. The problem existing is the fact that there is an increasing number of mothers in the work force and more two-career families, with fewer parents available to provide the home schooling needed for young children to prepare them for school. The questions debated show the positions of selected major speakers in regard to the appropriateness of preschool programs. There is inquiry as to whether or not preschool programs have a place within the public school system, type of program to be offered, and how to handle the problems of staffing, housing, and funding. The method undertaken examines selected preschool programs according to purpose, eligibility, screening, curriculum choices, teacher qualifications, parental involvement, and funding patterns. These programs include federal, state, local, and private early education facilities. Information is gathered through program observation, program documents, and through personal and telephone interviews and mailings. Conclusions are that there is an increasing demand for preschools due to the changing family, the existing preschools are many and varied—offering an uncoordinated system of sorts—and these preschools do not meet the needs of all children and their families. Recommendations include equal opportunity for all four-year-olds to get an education within the public school system, on a non-compulsory basis, with a unified curriculum and standards for teachers decided by the State Board of Education. The issues of housing and funding can be solved by collaboration among agencies, such as federal, states, local programs, business and industry and parents, all acting together to make this program possible.