Sign up for the EdSource Symposium today! Registration ends September 28th

Credit: Lillian Mongeau/EdSource

A teacher reads a book to two students in their state preschool classroom in East Palo Alto.

A vast majority of California registered voters believe attending a high-quality preschool is important to a student’s future success in school, according to a Field Poll conducted in partnership with EdSource

Of the 1,010 registered voters surveyed, 61 percent consider a high-quality preschool experience “very important” to a student’s later success and 22 percent said it is “somewhat important.”

“What these findings show is a clear recognition of the critical importance of high-quality education in the lives of children, and to their future success,” said Deborah Kong, president of Early Edge, a preschool advocacy group in California. “With 83% of the public believing that a quality early experience is critical, there can be no mistake that this is a core public value.”

lfine-preschool-poll-2

In recent years, several  states and cities have been expanding their public preschool programs with increasing public support. President Barack Obama put the issue in the national spotlight when he called for universal preschool for 4-year-olds in his State of the Union address in February 2013. President Obama will host a White House Summit on Early Education on Dec. 10, when he will announce the states and communities that will receive $250 million in Preschool Development Grants and $500 million in Early Head Start Child Care Partnership awards.

In California, the question of how to expand preschool took center stage in the last legislative session. A push to make an extra year of public school called “transitional kindergarten” available to all 4-year-olds, not just those who turn 5 between September and December, did not make it out of the Legislature. But the Legislature agreed to a plan that expanded access to full-day preschool for 4-year-olds from low-income families. The state budget included additional funding for 11,500 low-income 4-year-olds. The budget bill pledged to add an additional 31,500 slots in upcoming years but does not guarantee funding. The plan will eventually cover half of California’s 4-year-olds.

When asked how important it was for the state to further expand preschool so it serves all low-income 4-year-olds, 58 percent of those surveyed said it was “very important” and 23 percent said it was “somewhat important.”

“What these findings show is a clear recognition of the critical importance of high-quality education in the lives of children, and to their future success,” said Deborah Kong, president of Early Edge, a preschool advocacy group in California.

“We are moving the needle here,” said Deborah Stipek, dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Education. “That’s really impressive. I hope our governor and Legislature are listening.”

It is often public opinion, rather than policymakers, that drives change, Stipek said. The public is embracing preschool because there is a growing awareness of its importance, she said.

“We know so much more about brain development,” Stipek said. “It lays the foundation for later learning. There is a whole lot of it going on in the first few years. We have more compelling research showing the benefits of quality Pre-K.”

Despite strong public support for preschool, overall awareness of the state’s “transitional kindergarten” program was low. Only 28 percent of registered voters surveyed said they had heard of it, while 72 percent said they had not. However, awareness of transitional kindergarten was higher among parents, with 45 percent of those with children under 18 and 53 percent of those with children age 5 and under being familiar with the new grade.

However, registered voters were split on whether transitional kindergarten should be expanded to include all 4-year-olds, which would add a projected $1.4 billion to the state’s budget by 2020 were it ever fully implemented.

Thirty-nine percent of registered voters said they want transitional kindergarten expanded for all 4-year olds. Forty-one percent said the state should continue to limit the program only to those 4-year-olds who turn 5 between September and December and missed the Sept. 1 cutoff to enter regular kindergarten.

Whether preschool teachers should be required to have teaching credentials like public school teachers has been an issue debated in the early childhood education community. The majority of those surveyed support requiring a teaching credential.

Of those surveyed, 36 percent said it was “very important” for the state to require preschool teachers to get a teaching credential similar to what is required for public school teachers, even if it increases the cost of the preschool programs. Thirty percent said it was “somewhat important.”

“We’re also pleased to see a recognition of the importance of adults who understand the unique needs of children at this critical age, and whose preparation and professional development are on par with that of their K-12 peers,” Kong said.

Researchers interviewed 1,010 registered voters by telephone between Oct. 15 and Oct. 28 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points. Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed said they are parents, and 14 percent said they have children age 5 or younger.


Comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Comments Policy

The goal of the comments section on EdSource is to facilitate thoughtful conversation about content published on our website. Click here for EdSource's Comments Policy.

Expand Comments
Collapse Comments
  1. Edmond Vandergraff 2 years ago2 years ago

    If I had lived in California at this time, I would have voted that this was something very important to me. I have a 3 year old daughter who will be going to preschool soon. We want to make sure that she’s getting the best quality of education that she can get. It definitely helps them out so much for their future schooling.

  2. Stephen Krashen 2 years ago2 years ago

    Preschool would be great if it were really preschool. But it is now "school." Preschool is now "academic," filled with academic standards and tests. Every test given, (excuse me, every "assessment") is profit for the .001%. (Eager parents, in fact, can download preschool tests (see e.g. tests available at the oddly named "have fun teaching" website: http://www.havefunteaching.com/worksheets/test-practice/preschool-test-practice.) I suspect that at least some of the pious pronouncements we hear about the importance of preschool … Read More

    Preschool would be great if it were really preschool. But it is now “school.” Preschool is now “academic,” filled with academic standards and tests. Every test given, (excuse me, every “assessment”) is profit for the .001%. (Eager parents, in fact, can download preschool tests (see e.g. tests available at the oddly named “have fun teaching” website: http://www.havefunteaching.com/worksheets/test-practice/preschool-test-practice.)

    I suspect that at least some of the pious pronouncements we hear about the importance of preschool are because more children in preschool means more tests are given, and this increases profits for the testing industry.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      Who cares if someone makes money Stephen? What matters is performance. Why do you think Asians are such better students than whites and earn more as a result, and are the only group to do well in poverty? 60% test their own kids and prepare them for Kindergarten. I know, my kids are at mostly Asian schools. I did the same, all my kids knew the alphabet before 2, knew … Read More

      Who cares if someone makes money Stephen? What matters is performance. Why do you think Asians are such better students than whites and earn more as a result, and are the only group to do well in poverty? 60% test their own kids and prepare them for Kindergarten. I know, my kids are at mostly Asian schools. I did the same, all my kids knew the alphabet before 2, knew all the frequency words, to read and do basic math before starting Kindergarten. You internalize the importance of school and learning when you do this with your kids and pre-dispose them to feel good with knowledge and feel bad about not knowing things, make self-esteem something you earn rather than expect as a birthright. Only 16% of whites prep their kids for Kindergarten. That’s huge, and the attitudes last a lifetime for from ages 11-18, Asian kids study 13.8 hours a week on average, which seems not enough, but far better than the white average of 5.6. Asians are 3.5 times as likely to gain UC Admission or admission to Cal or UCLA. In fact whites are getting crowded out as so many figure it will all work out but don’t put in the work and find out in high school it’s too late, and many parents deeply regret not having followed Asian parenting methods but only after it’s too late.

      Who cares if some company makes some money. Good for them. Let’s get every family in California to buy the test prep books and do them with their kids on Saturdays, Summers, evenings, Sundays, etc. I’ve done so. So I’ve given the industry some cash. It’s better than spending it on anything else. It will pay itself back. My kids study hard and prioritize study over play or TV. If all kids had this we’d have no poverty, no crime, no ignorance, and certainly no one not bothering to vote because they are so uneducated, giving Republicans carte blanche so we can have a Tuesday free of a 30-minute walk to the polls. Everyone on minimum wage will make 6k a year less for the next few years in return for so many slacking off that night.

      Assessing and testing kids is something good parents do and which leads to results, but not all parents are good. So let’s let the schools do it. What is the point in getting mad some industry makes a buck? It’s better than the money going to Nike or Uggs or DirectTV or XBox or Nintendo.

      I can vouch, buying these books and putting time into testing kids helps kids’ futures. I have no doubt my children are better people because I put so much time and money into buying testing material from a young age than they would have been if I’d spent that money another way.

      • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        We can say the parents should do it, but some don't speak English, some can't, and some won't. 2 hours a week one-on-one time and 8 in a group in pre-school from 3-5 could give kids with mediocre or overworked parents or who have been abandoned by a negligent father (or mother in some cases) a better chance. If the group that preps kids for Kindergarten 60% of the time is doing 4 … Read More

        We can say the parents should do it, but some don’t speak English, some can’t, and some won’t. 2 hours a week one-on-one time and 8 in a group in pre-school from 3-5 could give kids with mediocre or overworked parents or who have been abandoned by a negligent father (or mother in some cases) a better chance. If the group that preps kids for Kindergarten 60% of the time is doing 4 x as well in UC admissions as the group at 16%, why don’t we start guaranteeing every child know the alphabet by 2 and reading by 4 or 5, before starting kindergarten, plus basic math? We know it works, why not give kids without diligent parents the same advantage the upper class (and some highly loving/dedicated lower income) children are already receiving? It would pay for itself in reduced prison costs, increased taxable income, etc. As a society, we should base policy on what is working inside the home, as well as outside, and what habits and practices lead to the best grades and test scores. If it works, families should emulate it as should schools.

      • Stephen Krashen 2 years ago2 years ago

        There is no evidence that pumping in academics and testing academics to preschool children has positive results, and there seems to be no effort to find out. There is ethical capitalism and greedy capitalism.

        • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

          Stephen, I really don't understand the last sentence as being relevant to my post. As for evidence, a study showed 60% of Asian American kids in California start Kindergarten knowing basic reading and math and get there with flash cards, phonics teaching, etc. Now remember, a high percentage are recent immigrants not fluent in English, so the number could be even higher. Whites do this just 16% of the time. Now … Read More

          Stephen, I really don’t understand the last sentence as being relevant to my post. As for evidence, a study showed 60% of Asian American kids in California start Kindergarten knowing basic reading and math and get there with flash cards, phonics teaching, etc. Now remember, a high percentage are recent immigrants not fluent in English, so the number could be even higher. Whites do this just 16% of the time. Now this may not be the only reason, harder work and focus on education after Age 5 is another factor (average study hours per week 11-17, again in CA, is 13.8 for Asians and 5.6 for whites). I am not sure but presume Latino and African American figures would be close to the white figures, but behind, but I don’t have evidence of this, but I do have evidence of the Asian/white difference. At 18, Asians are more than 3.5 times as likely as whites to gain admission to our best Universities, such as Stanford, Cal, Cal Tech and UCLA, with many believing some schools intentionally hold down their numbers by giving little extracurricular credit to say, Chinese School, and more to other activities. Chinese School is very difficult and shows a lot of character.

          I think that is pretty solid evidence. There is other evidence kids prepared in Kindergarten stay ahead of others. There is evidence increased vocabularies of educated pre-K kids last a lifetime. Every study ever done has shown kids who learn more before 5 do better in school throughout college and grad school. Girls are more prepared than boys, Asians more than whites, this lasts until grad school with more of each getting top degrees in law school, medical, MBAs, and right up to a higher income for life and higher levels of happiness reported. It never ends. The benefits accrued before Age 5 last a lifetime, and the evidence is there.

          I don’t support spending more tax dollars for kids to just play in groups. I want to see an improved society, higher education, more political awareness, higher voting rates, higher GDP, etc.

          You have kids there 6 hours, sometimes 8. If 1.5-2 per day is spent on academics, believe me, you will see a huge improvement. Kids will be ready for Kindergarten and already reading. And the parents who don’t bother won’t hurt other peoples’ kids anymore, because if all learn this, they won’t have to hold back the smart kids and can move along faster for all in Kindergarten.

          Surely some of Asians doing so well is better discipline and moral character in terms of more time studying and less time wasted after Age 5 and more focus on education, but the pre-school sets the attitude and creates internalized positive attitudes towards school and hard work which last a white time.

          What more proof do you need?

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            Typo, which last a lifetime. Internalized attitudes last a lifetime. No one is saying to have zero art projects and play time in pre-school, but have 2 hours of it focused on flash cards, reading, stories, counting, math and phonics teaching at a chalkboard. Even 1 hour per day will be a huge improvement. In 5 hours a week, any parent can transform a kid headed towards dropping out of JC … Read More

            Typo, which last a lifetime. Internalized attitudes last a lifetime. No one is saying to have zero art projects and play time in pre-school, but have 2 hours of it focused on flash cards, reading, stories, counting, math and phonics teaching at a chalkboard. Even 1 hour per day will be a huge improvement. In 5 hours a week, any parent can transform a kid headed towards dropping out of JC to a degree from a UC. I did all this, and my kids are doing very well in school. These are facts, backed by studies and science, and they are undisputed!

Template last modified: