Growing up in America for me, education was my only escape. Through the rough realities of my parents not gaining an education, I understood their struggle. Going through pre-K, to kindergarten then elementary to middle, I made my way to high school then finally to college. Education has been the basis of my success and what others like me need to succeed. In a country, those values about freedom and equality, improving education of the young must be the top priority of this country’s agenda. The best place to begin is providing universal pre-K for all American children.
Universal pre-k can help transform urban communities. Studies have shown that children who experience pre-k are more likely to attend college, maintain a full-time job, possess health insurance, become homeowners, and raise their own children well. The fact is that pre-K is something many children need to succeed in school and in life. Finally, pre-K in integrated classrooms provides a means of enabling children to work effectively in a diverse society.
Universal pre-K in integrated classrooms offers many potential benefits to American society. According to the U.S News, such an education “opens the door to a more effective solution than parallel tracks for poor and affluent students serving children of all backgrounds together, in integrated classrooms that boost achievement across the spectrum.” It opens the opportunity for understanding diversity at the age of three or four. We live in a society divided between rich and poor. Many affluent families can afford pre-k costs averaging for $ 20,000 per year. However, a family that is barely above the poverty line cannot afford such cost. We live in segregated communities within our country, segregated by race and class. Universal pre-k is not only the essential learning place where children develop good educational skills it potentially can help them learn how to live together in our diverse society. Without universal pre-K, we are continuously segregating the children from the actuality that differences do exist. We need to teach our future leaders about the difference this world brings.
The importance of universal pre-k is not just only the educational abilities and the cultural competence gained. It also will promote fairness among our children. Universal Pre-K breaks barriers of race and class and allows children to learn about fairness and diversity in a setting of an integrated classroom.
With this notion of universal pre-k, children of the poor have the opportunity to provide their children with the starting knowledge of learning. According to The Nation, “the boost of good early education will vault more low-income kids into the middle class and loosen up the economic hierarchy that has ossified in this country in the recent decades.”
We should not deprive children because of their financial circumstances from benefitting from pre-K education.
Finally, universal pre-k is not just a means of enhancing equal educational opportunity, although that it can accomplish. It also offers the promise of breaching the racial and class barriers of our society. Let children of diverse backgrounds learn about shapes, their ABCs, addition and subtraction together. In universal pre-K, they also will learn lessons of social understanding of diversity and the social implication behavior. Our children learn in school much about how to relate to others. When they learn among those from all neighborhoods, socioeconomic backgrounds and racial backgrounds, our society can overcome the notion of a “black” and “white” America. Let us not teach our children that being different is something bad, but teach them to embrace diversity as they begin their educations in universal pre-K classrooms.
Karissa Diaz is a student at Providence College, Providence , Rhode Island.