Pre-K: A vaccine against dropouts

Guest Blogger
Feb 13, 2013
Francie Alexander is Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic. She has taught from kindergarten to college and currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Corporate Council for Los Angeles Universal Pre-K (LAUP). As a career educator and a longtime advocate for universal Pre-K, I was ecstatic to hear President Obama make a commitment to early learning in his State of the Union speech last night. Over the years, I have come to believe (and the research backs me up) that universal Pre-K and full-day kindergarten can be a vaccine against dropouts. Millions of students struggle in school and thousands drop out of high school every day — and for so many of those students, their struggles started very early or even before they got to kindergarten. We in America are rightly concerned about the dropout crisis in our schools and about low achievement in our poorest communities and schools. This threatens our country’s competitiveness in the global economy, costs us money in amelioration and lost productivity, and holds back so many students from pursuing their dreams. As I’ve said before, the hope and promise of public schooling has always been to provide full educational opportunity for all. By increasing access to early learning and giving children instruction that identifies, monitors and addresses their learning needs from the outset, we’ll give every child a chance to succeed and graduate. You may have seen some new research out of NYU that shows Pre-K programs can boost a child’s IQ by between four and seven points. To me, this shows that no child should be trapped in a cycle of failure. All children can and will succeed if we give them a chance!