How Oklahoma got universal pre-K
Filed by Ben Allen in Feature.
February 13, 2013
“In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own.” - President Obama, 2013 State of the Union.
Oklahoma is one of the few states with universal pre-kindergarten. But how did it get through the State Legislature?
Start with this, as Alex Blumberg details on “This American Life”:
“Universal public preschool came to Oklahoma not as part of a bold, evidence based campaign. It was snuck in in the dark.”
The dark. It was set in motion in the late 1990s, when school superintendents, exploiting a funding loophole, collected twice as much money as legislators intended to allow for kindergarten. To fill classrooms, they started enrolling four year olds.
A couple words changed here, a couple phrases shifted there, and soon enough, legislators were approving universal pre-K, with little knowledge of what they did.
Joe Eddins orchestrated the passage.
Blumberg, again: “Eddins’ strategy here? Political sleight of hand. He drew their attention to the stuff in the bill he thought they would like, and didn’t mention the stuff they wouldn’t.”
To hear the full story, click here.