“Mr. Ross’ goals are laudable but his plan is not supported by real-world experience. In 1998, our neighbors in Oklahoma began providing ‘free’ preschool for all of the state’s four-year-olds. Oklahoma taxpayers pay mightily for the program, topping $146 million annually or about $7,400 per child. In the six years immediately preceding state-funded preschool, Oklahoma reading scores were higher than the national average. Today, Oklahoma children score 4 points below the national average. In fact, Oklahoma ranks last in the nation on the NAEP for fourth-grade reading gains since 1992. That's a zero return on a 15-year investment.
“If we want to ‘reduce the number of Arkansans in prisons or living on government assistance, if we want a better-educated workforce to attract the good-paying jobs of the future’, we must stop forcing every student into a four-year degree mold and return vocational and technical training to our high schools and two-year community colleges. Arkansas is desperate for a skilled labor force, and we won’t be able to fully revive our economy and produce the kind of good-paying jobs Arkansans are looking for until we restore vocational training to our education priorities.”
Curtis Coleman’s “Arkansas at the Front of the Class” education plan is available here.
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