The American Principles Project (APP) tells us about the latest federal education grant, the Preschool Development Grant, which may do for preschool what Race to the Top (RTT) did for primary and secondary education — Common Core-ize it. Like RTT, the Preschool Development Grant is a competitive grant program Unknown-5which awards points for various criteria. RTT awarded points for adopting “college and career ready” education standards.  APP explains the Preschool Development Grant awards points for,

“‘the extent to which the State has an ambitious and achievable plan to align High-Quality Preschool Programs supported by this grant with programs and systems that serve children from birth through third grade…’ This includes the alignment of ‘child learning standards and expectations.’”

Since most U.S. school districts have implemented Common Core Standards, it follows that States will align their preschool standards to Common Core in order to win the grant.  APP points out that many states have already done just that – including Ohio – see HERE.  A document from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) which describes Ohio’s Early Learning and Development Standards for Birth-Age 5 reads,

“The Cognition and General Knowledge standards were aligned with the kindergarten Common Core State Standards in English-Language Arts and Mathematics…”

And just to make sure the Preschool School Development Grant smells like RTT, walks like RTT, and quacks like RTT, the grants will also have a data tracking component. Yes, APP exlains that the grant includes a stipulation that “the State must have a Statewide Longitudinal Data System that links early childhood data with the State’s kindergarten through grade 12 data system by the end of the grant period.”

Preschool Development Grant applications were due October 14th.  Ohio submitted an “intent to apply” for the grant according to this list from the U.S. Department of Education last updated on September 18, 2014.

So while Common Core opponents in Ohio were busily advocating for the passage of Ohio’s Common Core repeal bill HB 597, the ODE may have been putting the finishing touches on Ohio’s Preschool Development Grant application which would entrench Common Core into even younger learning levels.

Some may say, “No big deal – my children attend a private preschool at my church.” But, Heather Crossin of Hoosiers Against Common Core believes the grants will cause states to open full-day pre-school programs that will crowd-out existing private programs. Crossin writes in a post,

“The funding is intended to move America one step closer to what has always been the ulitmate goal – having the taxpayers foot the bill for five day a week, full-day care for 3 and 4 years olds, with the public schools as the primary provider.”

“Since that idea is no more popular today, than it was twenty years ago, it has been repackaged and relabeled under the more palatable name of “Preschool,” or “Pre-K” for short.”

Crossin notes a couple of the federal guidelines for the “High Quality” preschool programs called for in the grant. The preschool programs must be “equivalent to a full school day at the public elementary school” and staff salaries must be “comparable to salaries of local K-12 instructional staff.”

Americans often hear about the benefits of preschool and its importance for success in the primary grades, but practice does not prove that to be the case. Crossin explains,

“When it comes to state programs, one need look no further than Georgia and Oklahoma, both of which have offered universal preschool for 4-year-olds since 1993 and 1998, respectively.  And yet, Georgia fourth grade students score just at the national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment, while Oklahoma students have actually seen a decline in such scores since they first implemented universal preschool back in 1998.”

So what we have in the making with the Preschool Development Grant program is a $250 million federally funded boondoggle, smaller in scale, but along the same lines as the $4 billion federally funded boondoggle Race to the Top turned out to be. And we know that federal grants never cover all the associated costs, so this $250 million figure could double, triple, quadruple, whatever it takes to meet the mandates buried in the grant.

Because of Heather Crossin’s efforts and those of her fellow Hoosiers for Common Core, Indiana Governor Mike Pence chose not to apply for the Preschool Development Grant and commit Indiana to more federal control of education.

News reports are mum as to whether Ohio submitted an application. All we have is Ohio’s name on the list of states which filed an “intent to apply.”  Let’s find out if Ohio submitted an application or not.

Call Governor Kasich, the ODE, your state rep, or state senator, and ask if Ohio applied for a federal Preschool Development Grant. Ask if the State of Ohio intends to take our preschools down the same path the State is taking our primary and secondary schools – toward even more federal control of education.

Read American Principles Project Post, “Common Core for Preschoolers” HERE.

Read Heather Crossin’s post, “Do Hoosiers want more taxpayer-funded daycare?” HERE.

Read Heather Crossin’s post, “A step forward for Hoosiers in a long march” HERE.