More Than Half Of US Kids Do Not Attend Preschool

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count report is out and shows that 53 percent of U.S. children who were 3 and 4-year-olds did not participate in preschool in the three years spanning 2008-2010.

While that means that fewer than half of our youngest learners were enrolled in a preschool program, that participation rate was an improvement over the previous three-year period, when 56 percent did not attend preschool, according to the report.

Each year, the Annie e. Casey Foundation publishes the KIDS COUNT Data Book, which tracks the well-being of our nation’s children, state by state.Here’s how they introduced the 2012 report:

As we release this year’s  Data Book, our 23rd, America’s children and families face   a crossroad. After the worst economic crisis since the   great Depression, our economy has begun to slowly recover.  Unemployment has declined and state revenues are trending  upward. But the recovery is fragile. many families are still  coping with hardship caused by a long and deep recession,   and states and localities still face serious fiscal challenges.

So what did they find?

Not surprising, Latino children had the lowest participation rates, with 63 percent not attending preschool. Hispanic families have historically had the lowest enrollment rates in preschool programs.

Asian-American kids had the best preschool participation of any major racial and ethnic group, with more than half attending (48 percent were not enrolled). That was slightly better than the rates for African-American and white children. Both of those groups had non-participation rates of 50 percent, while 59 percent of American Indian children did not attend preschool.

New Jersey and Connecticut had the lowest numbers of children not enrolled in preschool programs, at 36 percent and 38 percent respectively.

While preschool participation overall has increased over the last decade—even through the recession years—public spending on such programs has taken a big hit and has raised numerous concerns about declining quality.

The idea that preschool is a vital part of a child’s education and that a high-quality preschool is crucial to academic success is supported by several studies. Ten years ago, Arthur Reynolds, a professor of social work at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, published the results of a 15-year-study  of the highly regarded Child-Parent Centers of Chicago.  Reynolds found that children from these preschools were nearly 30 percent more likely to graduate from high school, and about 40 percent less likely to repeat a grade, than other children.

A year earlier, the groundbreaking report Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers asserted that even before entering kindergarten, children can learn language and the fundamentals of reading, math and science to a far greater extent than previously thought.

Early childhood educators now believe a balance of both social/emotional learning and early academics is key to a child’s future success in school.

So it is disappointing to read that so many children are still deprived of a preschool education.

Of course, in many other countries, free preschool education is available to all.

What do you think? Should the US provide preschool education for all 3- and 4-year-olds?

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Photo Credit: Jaroslav Chaninovic


Cindy Wade
Cindy W6 years ago

I think this is bs... plain and simple. I never went to pre-school because my Mom stayed home with me (I was born in the 60's). I did very well in school. My daughter was in daycare out of necessity but I would much rather have been able to stay home with her and have the pleasure of teaching her myself. As part of the daycare, she took part in structured pre-school for the year before starting school. I can't really see that see did any better or worse through school than her peers who stayed at home with Mom or Dad until school started. I believe the biggest benefit to daycare/pre-school, especially for only children, is that they learn social skills that they might not get if they are home with Mom or Dad alone until school starts.

Lika S.
Lika P6 years ago

Well, my opinion is, unless you're going to require pre-school, as they do in Japan, unless your child is in need of developmental help, there is really no need to send your children.

nancy m.
nancy manderson6 years ago

I have to agree with Lynn. There is no need to force three-year-old's into a structured school environment and away from their family. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a parent/grand-parent/aunt/uncle/trusted babysitter/family friend taking care of the three/four year-old child, I would think of those as preferable options, personally. No reason to remove all parents' child care decisions and force pre-school.

Lynn D.
Lynn D6 years ago

There was no such thing as "pre school" forever and if families were families you would have no need for it! Family outings (camping, boating, raking leaves, helping in parades) all teach what pre school is doing. If parent's would spend time with their kids (better yet, not have them if they don't have time for them) the world would be in better shape! School was long enough, kids should be home between birth and 4 years old!

Randi Levin
Randi Levin6 years ago

So what, I didn't go to preschool and couldn't read until 2nd grade. Yet back then education was not a business it was education. There were no labels placed on young children, instead teachers spent time teaching and those of us behind spent time after school or in summer school being taught one on one until we got the concept or skill.

Sadly today kids get labels as young as 4-5 years of age, if they get behind they don't get much one on one, they get hold back and told to catch up on a computer. Education has become a business and many children get lost through that haze of business.

I went on be highly educated, with several advanced degrees, one short of a PHD degree. IF was educated in today's system I would have been labeled and my educational experiences would have been severely restricted as wouid my intellect!

Steve Gomer
Steve Gomer6 years ago

No..... I don't see any need for Preschool. I believe we are pushing our kids too early. in some race to be the best. its like sports, they push these kids to the point of collapse all in the name of winning Its time to let young kids be young kids and do the things we used to do when we were young. be ourselves and not be forced into learning just because our country is in some dam race to be the best

Florence Eaise
Florence Eaise6 years ago

That explains ALOT!!!!!

Rosie Jolliffe
Rosie Lopez6 years ago

interesting thnx

Heather K.
Heather K6 years ago

*sigh* Really? We're freaking out that parents aren't putting their kids into glorified daycares? When I was a kid, unless you were rich, you didn't go to preschool and it didn't matter then and it doesn't matter now, because educationally, they're all in the same place by second grade unless they were going to be ahead anyway (like I was). All it is is shaving a little bit of time off the dwindling childhood kids already waste in 'educational' facilities instead of just being kids.

And yes, I've read studies that support that and no, I'm not doing your homework for you.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for GOOD education, but this is ridiculous. If you can't teach a 3-5 year old, you have no business being a parent (to the SAHs of the number). If you're going to be working anyway, may as well put them in preschool instead of daycare, but I'd prefer to hope this number is because more parents are having the option to stay home with their kids.

Get them outside, playing in the dirt, in the kitchen with you, at the store with you and they'll learn faster than they will in a preschool 'classroom.'

But, I guess my 5 year old being able to read, write, add, identify the planets in the solar system, tell you that she's a mammal and why, etc. etc. must somehow be 'behind.' Even though she's on a first grade level. I'm sure not going to preschool and having to listen to them talk about how her ADHD needs drugs REEAAAALLY hurt her.

Randi Levin
Randi Levin6 years ago

Comment please!