Preschool Politics: States’ efforts to reach the very young

Glazer, Nathan. "Preschool Politics: States' efforts to reach the very young." Education Next 8 no. 3 (2008).

Excerpt: A holiday-themed campaign ad for Hillary Clinton showed the candidate affixing to boxes wrapped in shiny paper gift tags marked with campaign issues, with the final tag marked “Universal Pre-K.” Beyond this brief nod to the issue, preschool education has made few appearances in the 2008 presidential campaign, and I suspect that when this review appears in print, the economy, Iraq, and health care will still be the dominant themes.

David Kirp, judging by his detailed survey of where we stand in the effort to expand education to the years preceding kindergarten, hoped differently. He reminds us of that moment in 1971 when Richard Nixon vetoed “legislation that would have underwritten child care for everyone. ‘No communal approaches to child-rearing,’ Nixon vowed.” That put an end to a major effort to expand the web of government services to include the care of preschool children, and to the liberal hope that we would match the welfare states of Europe on this measure. But in the decades since, there has been a substantial change in opinion, and very often, as Kirp shows, on the right as well as the left.

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