Pre-K, Pros And Cons

For the last week or so, there have been a lot of stories in the local news about the benefits or lack there of , of the Tennessee Volunteer Pre-K program. Even the Loudon County Board Of Education has broached the topic. The results of a study commissioned by the governor and carried out by the state comptroller's office has been the source of the news. The study finds that there are no long or short term benefits gained by those children who participate in the program. The findings have set off a firestorm of debate on the topic.

Tennessee, like many other states, has set up their volunteer pre-k program to target "economically disadvantaged",  "at risk", "free and reduced lunch participants" or what ever other title you would call it, children. Bottom line, the program draws on children who have been identified for what ever reason as children with less than a great home life. The state has essentially said, these children would be better off in our care than their parents.

The discussion/debate on pre-k is far more about a philosophical difference of opinion than a debate on educational benefits. The difference of opinions center around whether or not it's governments place to act as surrogate mommies and daddies for children of a disadvantaged background. No question that the few hours a day that some of these children are in the custody of the government could be the better part of their day. But again, is that the responsibility of the government/tax payers? Those from the camp who believe in personal responsibility rarely see government as a solution. Those from the other camp generally see government intervention as the solution to everything.

The continued support for a program simply based on the fact that it may or may not have a benefit is a weak argument. Any government program could claim to have benefit. Free housing, free food, free gasoline, free health care could all be shown to have benefit but that doesn't make them necessary or feasible. 

The debate on state subsidized pre kindergarten education is not likely to end any time soon and both sides will continue to support their own view of the governments involvement in our daily lives. But the stark reality is, with state and local governments facing greater and greater economic challenges, it will become even more important that those charged with the distribution of limited tax dollars will have to become ever more discerning with those funds to ensure that we get the most for money.

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