Preschool is not daycare

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Preschool advocates will find much to celebrate in a new study of the Chicago Child Parent Centers, a program that has provided comprehensive education, health and family support services to young children for more than 40 years. The new report looks at more than two decades worth of data and concludes that each dollar spent on a child in the program yields almost $10 in either savings to society (i.e., money not spent on remediation or adjudication) or higher earnings when that child enters the workforce.

On the teacher quality front, the study includes an important nugget. Although the program's services are very similar to Head Start, the Chicago program, unlike the federal behemoth, requires all teachers to have a bachelor's degree and pays them on the same scale as K-12 teachers. The implication is clear: preschool teachers need different qualifications and compensation than daycare providers.

The good news is that federal policymakers seem to partially understand this; the bad news is that federal policymakers seem to partially understand this. The recent reauthorization of Head Start included the 'cut the baby in half' compromise of requiring 50 percent of teachers to have bachelor's degrees.