Opinion: Middle-class families need more public preschools
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
My husband and I attended public schools, and we would like our children to do the same. I have taught in the Chicago public schools for the last 12 years, and I feel a sense of loyalty to the district. But attracted by the promise of small class sizes, abundant after-school activities and a strong preschool program, my husband and I are thinking about sending our children to private schools and abandoning CPS.
This is not an issue unique to Chicago. Choices are slim around the nation. As National Public Radio reported in May, less than 40 percent of four-year-old children in the United States are enrolled in any kind of public preschool. According to the Department of Education, the United States ranks 25th in early learning enrollment, behind countries such as France, Singapore and Mexico.
The Obama administration had pledged to get 6 million children enrolled in public preschool, with the District of Columbia, which has nearly universal preschool, leading the charge. The problem is funding. The District of Columbia leveraged Head Start funding and coupled it with charter schools to offer preschool to a majority of the city’s 3- and 4-year-olds. And with the help of a state grant late last year, Chicago was able to open more preschool classrooms in areas of need.
CPS should follow the example of the District of Columbia and find a way to offer nearly universal preschool. If not, more middle class families like my own will be lured away by what private schools have to offer.
Gina Caneva is an English teacher, instructional leadership team lead and librarian at Lindblom Math and Science Academy. She is a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellowship alum.
Follow the Editorial Board on Twitter: Follow @csteditorials
Send letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org