In short, “No.” President Obama’s push for massive federal spending on a universal pre-kindergarten program generated heated opposition over cost, government overreach and the questionable
effectiveness of existing programs like Head Start.
But now this debate has landed on our front step. The South Carolina State Senate is scheduled to vote early next week on Budget
Proviso 1.83 that would create just such a program in SC. This is the wrong choice for South Carolina’s hard-earned taxpayer education dollars.
Instead, we should refocus our education spending around student-centered strategies that have been shown to be effective in other states… especially for students who face the biggest challenges. Many of these proven strategies are outlined in Palmetto Policy Forum’s recent report Transformation: What
South Carolina Can Learn from Florida’s K-12 Reforms including:
Curtailing social promotion (p.6). Florida students were promoted to the next grade when they were ready, not when they had completed 180 days of seat time.
Providing school choice (p.7). Florida parents were given the opportunity to select the school that fit their child best and the dollars followed the child (all while protecting public schools from harm).
Grading schools, focusing on the lowest 25% (pp.9-11). Florida schools were graded on how well they performed with their most challenged students. A-F grading increased focus and focus increased performance.
Leading the nation in technology (p.5). Florida bridged the digital divide with aggressive development of online programs.
Concentrating on reading (pp.1-5). Florida embraced the importance of reading to all academic success and eliminated barriers to progress, especially for disadvantaged student populations.
Welcoming great minds (p.6). Florida achieved greater access to the abilities of its citizens who had the capacity and life experience to make great teachers without forcing them to follow complicated and redundant certification processes.
Let’s work to leverage these common sense strategies to fix the broken education system we have – NOT create new spending on an ineffective universal Pre-K program.