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Universal Pre-K

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Young woman playing with kids in nursery school
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Definition:

Universal Pre-K are state-funded preschool programs. Each varies from state to state in terms of methodology, availability, eligibility and execution. Universal Pre-K should not be confused with Head Start, which is a federally-funded program for economically disadvantaged children and families.

Thirty-nine states plus the District of Columbia offer some form of voluntary Universal Pre-K, but not every child is eligible. Currently, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma are the only states that offer Universal Pre-K for all 4-year-old children.

Advocates for Universal Pre-K argue that society has a responsibility to provide high-quality education to all of its youngest members, citing, among other things, higher standardized test scores and an easier social acclimation for those children who attend. They would like to see fully-funded programs available for all students nationwide, regardless of income.

Detractors say that there is no link between a child doing well in preschool and succeeding later on and that those parents who want to send their child to preschool should pay for it themselves.

Also Known As: Universal Preschool, Universal Pre-Kindergarten, Universal Prekindergarten

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