Here in the US we talk a good game about how important education is. Politicians claim to have the highest regard for teachers (non-union teachers, of course). Policy makers try to convince us that they consider our children a high priority. "Reformers" push their unproven "reforms" with promises of higher achievement. The American people are starting to get the message that the "Test and Punish" policies of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top do not increase student achievement. Poverty is still the major cause of low achievement in our public schools...yet the politicians, pundits and policy makers won't admit it out loud. Nearly one fourth of our children live in poverty, and the congress, made up mostly of people wealthy enough to buy a seat of power, spend their time denying safety nets to those in poverty and protecting their own wealth and power.
The value of preschool is well known but it costs money and our state and national legislators are loath to spend money on our children if there's no corporate hand-out included. Bailing out banks...reducing delays at airports (which occurred when members of Congress bought their plane tickets for a recess-NOTE: This link includes adult language)...funding wars around the globe...those things are funded with barely a blink of an eye. The billionaires who fund so-called "reforms" send their children to schools unburdened by large classes and high stakes tests. They buy legislators who transfer public education funds to edupreneurs and private schools. Meanwhile the nation's public schools founder from lack of support, and we fund preschools at a level well below other higher achieving nations. The children left behind get fewer materials, fewer opportunities, crowded classrooms and high stakes tests. Their teachers get vilified for failing to solve the problems caused by the extreme inequity in our society.
Here's an infographic from the Center for American Progress showing how our commitment to universal preschool compares to other nations. Click to see it in larger size.
[UPDATE: The United States is Far Behind Other Countries on Pre-K
Early childhood education and school readiness is essential to preparing our children to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy. Compared to other countries, however, the United States lags far behind on preschool, trailing a number of other countries in enrollment, investment, and quality.]
Stop the Testing Insanity!