SC Governor Henry McMaster has decided that SC taxpayers need to invest in putting more money into a full day public education for low income parents' 4 year old children. This proposal involves spending at least $53 million of taxpayer funds in hopes of improving student educational outcomes. 

Our Governor is all on board with thinking that by expanding a present failing SC public education by making four year old children attend a full day government sponsored prekindergarten program is somehow going to improve the final outcome of a K-12 education. Wonder if he thinks owners of a failing restaurant that has terrible ratings should spend more money and open up another franchise?

History shows SC legislators thought by adding kindergarten it would improve the final outcome of a quality high school graduate...but nope, evidence shows students graduating from SC high schools are not prepared for college or the workforce. And exit test scores are stagnant. So then SC legislators continued that thinking pattern and added half day 4 year old preschool programs...but nope, evidence proves that hasn't helped. Now Governor McMaster wants taxpayers to believe that making young 4 year old children stay a full day in an educational setting will magically make them be workforce and college/career ready when they graduate. The question now becomes, what's next when this doesn't work...full day 3 year old pre-K?...or maybe he thinks low income parents should just hand their children over to the state at birth and taxpayers foot the bill for “training” the child to be “workforce” ready.The question is will the state then data mine the young child and ultimately peg hole the child into a job the state decides the child should have upon graduation. I think China does this. And I am pretty sure China is a communist nation last time I checked. 

Why do we have tax supported public schools? I thought children were sent to our k-12 public schools for a well-rounded education to prepare them for whatever their pursuit of happiness would be. It seems the shift since No Child Left Behind and then Common Core Standards now known as SC College/Career Ready Standards has been in place that now public education's purpose has fundamentally transformed to prepare students to be cogs in a wheel, to be human capital, and to serve the needs for future economic development enrichment for the state. Do you like your child being considered human capital? Do you want the state to push your child toward a career “they” think is in your child's best interest? Is that all you as a parent aspire for your child upon finishing k-12 is to be workforce ready?

McMaster was quoted by the Post and Courier saying, “If they're not ready when they go to kindergarten, they're never going to catch up.”  “Catch up to what Henry? “Catch up “ just to be peg holed via computer tests to follow what the state says a child should be when they grow up?

Where is the empirical evidence that putting a 4 year old whose family is poor in a public school setting all day long will improve that child's eventual future? I have yet to see one single study that equates attending a full day of public school at the age of 4 guarantees them a successful life. In fact, there are plenty of studies out there that show there is No substantial proof that a child who attended public school at age 4 all day is better off when graduating high school than a child who does not.

SC Policy Council wrote an article in 2013 entitled, Why More Spending on 4K Education Won’t Work” that article is still relevant today in which they stated,

Early education programs in South Carolina have proved to be an ineffective supplement for a school system that is in need of far deeper reform. If legislators truly wish to help children across the state, they should scale back efforts on a program of doubtful benefit and instead focus on programs that expand school choice – a policy that has both saved taxpayer dollars and improved educational outcomes.”

See entire article here:

Then we have Brooking Institute, a non profit organization based in Washington D.C that conducts in depth researches stating,

Under the most favorable scenario for state per-K that can be constructed from these data, increasing pre-K enrollment by 10 percent would raise a state’s adjusted NAEP scores by a little less than one point five years later and have no influence on the unadjusted NAEP scores.”

John Rosemond, a leading American columnist and author on parenting who has authored 15 books on child rearing believes in the short term giving low income family's children an early intervention via pre-school will show individual growth. However, the gains being made are NOT permanent and by third grade the children who had no pre-K experience were not achieving any better than those who had attended a preschool program.

See link to Rosemond's article here:

This 2018 study of the Tennessee Voluntary pre-K Program, entitled Effects of the Tennessee Prekindergarten Program On Children’s Achievement and Behavior Through Third Grade” stated,

Our data suggest that children were responsive to their first introduction to formal schooling, whether in pre-k or kindergarten, no matter what their skills upon entry. But their 1st through 3rd grade instructional experiences did not maintain their momentum. It is doubtful that anything done in pre-k can have sustained effects if the gains made there are not supported and extended in the schooling that follows.” 

See more on this study:

In an article dated November 30, 2018 written by Kerri McDonald who is an author of “ Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroomas well asadjunct scholar at The Cato Institute and a regular Forbes contributor, states, 

As schooling becomes more rigid and consumes more of childhood, it is causing increasing harm to children. Many of them are unable to meet unrealistic academic and behavioral expectations at such a young age, and they are being labeled with and medicated for delays and disorders that often only exist within a schooled context. Parents should push back against this alarming trend by holding onto their kids longer or opting out of forced schooling altogether.”

See full article here:

There are also a plethora of psychologists who agree that pushing academics on young children too soon is not in a child's best interest. A leading psychologist on young child development PhD Peter Gray in a recent article entitled, The Decline of Play and Rise in Children's Mental Disorders” states,

By depriving children of opportunities to play on their own, away from direct adult supervision and control, we are depriving them of opportunities to learn how to take control of their own lives. We may think we are protecting them, but in fact we are diminishing their joy, diminishing their sense of self-control, preventing them from discovering and exploring the endeavors they would most love, and increasing the odds that they will suffer from anxiety, depression, and other disorders.”

See full article here:

It seems our Governor has not done his homework. Has he taken the time to fully evaluate the push for full day pre-K for four year olds? Or is he pandering for votes from parents that just want a free day care situation while they are living off taxpayer welfare? Or maybe he's pandering to corporations who make huge contributions to his campaign funds? I'd like to think he's just not done his homework and actually thinks this is a great idea to improve SC educational outcomes for students even though it is most likely  based on faulty advice from the SC Education Oversight Committee. After all, the SC Education Oversight Committee doesn’t have such a great track record of advising the SC Dept of Education on education reforms that actually improve our ratings in SC now have they?

Yes, SC needs to be bold in making quality education reforms to improve the SC student outcomes. But this reporter who happens to have a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and 29 years of experience teaching first grade does not have any confidence that taxpayer funds spent on fully funding a four year old pre-K will have the effect he's hoping for. In my professional opinion this is  just another SC boondoggle. Children shouldn't be guinea pigs, especially  when there is evidence that the actual implementation could do more harm than good. SC children and taxpayers deserve proven educational reforms that will indeed lead to better children's educational outcome and give the parents and taxpayers confidence in a good return on their investment, and not another expensive boondoggle. 

written by Johnnelle Raines, Board Member of USPIE

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