This article in the San Jose Mercury News reports that only 15% of preschool-age children living in poverty are in high-quality programs. This is where I want to tear my hair out and rant that we should more like the French and the Italians, and have universal preschool. This is where I want to run around and shove yell, “Wake up, people! We are missing an incredible opportunity to reduce crime and poverty and illiteracy!”
I used to teach kindergarten in high-poverty areas. Every day I went home feeling like a failure, because it was so hard to give my students everything they needed — but had not received — in their first five years of life. I needed to go backward and get them through preschool, but then to have enough time to get them through kindergarten and ready for first grade was almost impossible. Now that I teach preschool, I can take a child who has missed much of what he needed in his first four years of life, and take him through a year of rich preschool experiences, and yes, get him completely ready for kindergarten. It is amazing the difference a year makes.