The Learning Curve is a weekly column that answers questions about schools using plain language. Have a question about how your local schools work? Write me at Mario.Koran@voiceofsandiego.org.
Next year, San Diego Unified will offer preschool to all families. All families who can afford it, that is.
Earlier this week, Mayor Kevin Faulconer joined Superintendent Cindy Marten to announce a “game changing” initiative to that would expand access to preschool.
Faulconer and the city didn’t actually help fund the preschool initiative, called Pre-K for All. Rather, a district spokeswoman said Faulconer simply came to express his support for early education.
“The mayor has been a tireless advocate for economic growth in our city and recognizes that access to Pre-K is an essential issue for many families,” said San Diego Unified spokeswoman Jennifer Rodriguez.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
This is absolutely a step in the right direction....
Now... perhaps the qualifications for "free" preschool should be changed, and certainly the "half day" option does not work for most working families, but beyond that the general idea that we now let the market determine who profits from providing a quality education is movement forward.
We'll now see whether parents think their child is better off with the $1060/month public preschool or the $700 private preschool, won't we?
Unfortunately I'm sure that implementing this plan requires up front expenses - setting up classrooms, hiring teachers, perhaps bulking up administrative staff in some way, etc, etc. I trust the $1060/month number was calculated taking this into account (including the future pension costs of all.....!!!!?)
When it fails - because it's too expensive and parents view private preschools as a better deal - will we learn from that, and then reduce the district expenses accordingly? Probably not...
If only we went to voucher systems overall, so EVERYONE could "vote with their dollars" on which schools they want to send their kids to.
Then we'd see true improvement in education....
It appears that what started out as a program to boost the education achievement of kids from low income families has turned into something else, just to fill the slots. Instead of sharging a fee (which appears to be above the market rate in any case), perhaps the school district should concentrate on finding ways to attract the original target population!
Does the SDUSD preschool actually run year-round, or does it take breaks throughout the school year (like winter break, spring break, and a long summer break)? If the latter, how does that work for any working parent who isn't employed by the school district?
Will the fee for preschool cover the cost to the District? --i.e. is this revenue neutral or does it come at a cost to K-12 education? I ask because San Diego Unified School District is not even funding the basics --like books-- for some elementary schools.
@SherryS Just fyi, the general funding for K-12 education throughout the state runs about $10K/student (according to the CA DOE for 2014-15).
At $1060/month, I suspect that fully funds this program, even though I'm sure there is a large amount of gold-plating going on and it could likely be done just as well for less - as with any government program...