Prekindergarten is one of the most hotly contested topics in American education today. In Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut, Chester E. Finn Jr. outlines the issues that drive and complicate this contentious debate: Which children really need it? How many aren't getting it? Who should provide it—and at whose expense? What's the right balance between socialization and systematic instruction—between education and child care? Where does Head Start fit in? What are reliable markers of quality in preschool programs?
The author looks at recent social and educational changes that have brought unprecedented attention to school readiness, the hazy boundary between preschool and child care, and the extent to which American youngsters already have access to various pre-K services. He then examines the shaky state of standards and quality in this field and the largely inconclusive nature of research and evidence as to "what works" with young children. After reviewing of two of America's most prominent examples of universal pre-K education in Florida and Oklahoma and looking at the four-decade-old Head Start Program, Finn tackles the matter of costs and benefits and the fractious issue of alternative delivery systems before offering some conclusions and ideas for the path ahead.