Ramona is a hard-working, loving, single mother of two preschool aged girls, Theresa and Rosa. She works overtime every week, just to make ends meet for her and her children. Ramona and her children are in poverty. Unfortunately, statistics indicate that Theresa and Rosa will struggle to receive the quality preschool education they need to in order to succeed throughout Kindergarten, grade school, high school and into adulthood. According to one study by Sum and Fogs, students living in poverty rank in the 19th percentile on academic assessments, while their peers who are part of mid-upper income families rank in the 66th percentile on the same assessments (Lacour and Tissington, 2011). “The achievement gap refers to significant disparity in low educational success between groups of children: low-income and minority children as compared to higher income and non-minority children” (Early Education for All). This academic achievement gap is unacceptable and every child deserves the chance to excel to their fullest potential in school, in order to prepare for adulthood. Preschool is a pertinent part of a young child’s education, which has been proven successful many times in preparing children for grades K-12, and beyond. “Practitioners and researchers alike contend that the enrichment of preschool makes a difference especially for children living in poverty” (Loucks, Slaby, and Stelwagon). By providing all children with access to preschool programs, the educational achievement gap can be reduced. Unfortunately, since preschool is not a government mandated educational requirement, preschool must be privately funded, leaving families who are unable to pay tuition costs are. This is an opportunity that Theresa and Rosa would miss out on because Ramona cannot afford the tuition. Because of these lasting cognitive and social development benefits that preschool can provide, it should federally funded educational requirement. Quality preschool education needs to be regarded as a constitutional right, not a socioeconomic privilege.
There is an increasing educational achievement gap in the United States, between children of low-income families, and their peers, due to their limited access to a preschool education. It has been proven time and time again, that underprivileged children, who are not provided with the access to a preschool education, perform lower in later academic learning, than those who were afforded a preschool education. One study in California revealed that second and third grade students of low-income families who did not attend preschool were significantly less proficient in English and Mathematics (Loucks, Slaby, Stelwagon, 2005). Another California survey illustrated that poverty stricken children entering kindergarten were six months behind their wealthy peers in pre-reading skills. (Loucks, Slaby, Stelwagon, 2005).
Children of low-income families are also much more likely to encounter environmental and health risk factors. (Early Education for All). These risks can potentially impede on a child’s readiness for school. For example, children living in poverty have been proven to begin kindergarten with significantly less mathematical knowledge than their peers. “This would suggest that the preschool experience is a mechanism to level the playing field and fully prepare students to succeed in kindergarten” (Loucks, Slaby, Stelwagon, 2005). By entering the early grades without having the proper pre-requisite education and skill sets, children run the risk of falling behind in class. When a student enters kindergarten unprepared, the students risk of grade retention increases, not only in kindergarten, but also in the grade school years to follow. Catching up to the required proficiency level becomes harder and harder for the student, and in some cases, the student will simply give up and either fail or drop out. Access to preschool education for these children can help to close the...
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