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How Oklahoma got universal pre-K

Filed by KOSU News 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.

One Response to “How Oklahoma got universal pre-K”

  1. Wayne says:

    My son started school this january at the age of 3. He is autistic but benefited greatly from sooner start and early school education. In just one month, he's gone from few single word requests to many three word sentences. over the course of 6 months with a study for ABA therapy, we have completely eliminated his meltdowns and greatly improved his attention. His teachers are already toying with the idea of getting him into regular classes by kindergarden.
    I know this goes beyond just regular universal pre-k, but it shows how other early intervention/education programs in OK can benefit society greatly. When my son was first diagnosed with autism, we feared he wouldn't be able to participate in normal society, and many kids who are diagnosed and treated later in life, must rely on family and the government throughout their lives. The progress our son is making has almost eliminated that fear for this family and we feel confident he will participate in society in a positive way.

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