Michigan Preschool Enrollments Rising

An enrollment increase of over 16,000 4-year-olds in preschool programs across Michigan has come as a result of expanded funding for the initiative. The state dedicated additional funds of potentially $65 million to the Great Start Readiness Program, making it one of the nation’s largest preschool programs available to low-income families.

The increased funding puts Governor Snyder and the legislature in line with President Obama’s vision for expanded, possibly universal preschool. The issue has inevitably become highly politicized as critics from the right and left have argued over the dedication of large sums of federal funds for the early schooling. Most sound research, though, points to modest positive academic gains as a result of high-quality preschool programs. The question then becomes: How do we effectively use the available resources to achieve positive results on a large scale?

Michigan connection: one of the most often cited examples of preschool’s effectiveness is the Highscope Perry Preschool Study, which studied the effects of a highly intensive program in the 1970’s in Ypsilanti. Unfortunately, though the program is put forth as conclusive evidence of the effectiveness of preschool programs, any large-scale implementation in today’s schools would not likely be nearly as intensive or well-funded.

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