Elementary school principal Peggy Youngblood sees first-hand the differences between kindergartners who attended a quality pre-k program and those who didn’t. But she also says lawmakers should insist on a six-hour program.
"If a child has a whole day, you are going to be able to make the day appropriate for them. There will be nap times, there will be play time. It's not going to be all academic time, and the play and social time is also very important."
Legislative insiders say a three-hour day is pretty much a done deal because it lets schools offer double sessions and get twice the kids in for half the price.
But the budget watchdog group Taxwatch thinks that’s shortsighted. Taxwatch president Dominic Calabro says anything less than six hours will turn off struggling families who can’t coordinate a three-hour program with their work day.
"We want to make sure they actually get the education, get the enrichment opportunities, rather than make it difficult, we want to make it easy."
Lawmakers are getting an earful from educators and parents who want the second attempt at putting the voter-mandated pre-k program together to have tougher standards than the first attempt Jeb Bush shot down last spring.
"But lawmakers are also under pressure from private and faith-based pre-k programs that are not necessarily open to new government rules and may not be able to offer a six-hour day."
"The main concern they have is the ability to fund these types of programs. Their programs, they want to have the autonomy to run their own pre-k programs, which they’ve been doing for many, many years.
Parents just hope the end result gives all kids a better shot at being successful in school.
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