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preschool

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

There is a big push to get kids "kindergarten ready," with an emphasis on the importance of preschool.

But some experts say waiting until preschool is too late.

Researcher Craig T. Ramey has spent his entire academic life studying programs that impact vulnerable children, and he says "far and away early childhood education is the most powerful instrument we have to prepare people to lead productive lives." And by "early" he means starting at birth.

There was definitely some trickery, well, maybe a lot of trickery. Alex Blumberg from This American Life unravels the story of how a few men in Oklahoma managed to sneak universal preschool for four-year-old's into the state budget in the late 1990's. Now, Oklahoma has 74 percent of its kids enrolled in the program, a lot more than the national figure of 28 percent. Take a listen, it's entertaining and worth it.

We know that children are aware of class, but Jessi Streib at the University of Michigan showed in a study published last year just how early this can happen, and how it affects the learning environment. Streib found that preschoolers who came from more affluent backgrounds used verbal skills they learned at home to interrupt class, redirect the teachers' attention and "effectively silence the working-class children."

A new report by Bridge Magazine estimates 30,000 Michigan preschoolers are eligible for public preschool, and aren't there. Bridge Magazine got to their numbers by finding out how many kids are eligible and how many are currently enrolled. Public preschool is available for kids from low and moderate income homes, more than half of children in the state.

Dustin Dwyer

It's no secret that pre-kindergarten education can have a profound impact on the future prospects of children - studies have shown it for decades. But in Michigan, and in the rest of the country, only about half of kids actually attend preschool. Plenty of parents want to send their kids to preschool, there just aren't enough classes available.

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