Early childhood education at a crossroads


Deborah Stipek

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Harvard Education Letter

There is some good news to report about the education of young children in the United States. One of the most encouraging developments in recent years has been the growing number of children who have access to early educational experiences. Nearly all five-year-olds are now enrolled in school, and the proportion of U.S. three- and four-year-olds who attend preschool has increased dramatically over the past four decades. In 1965, the year Head Start was first implemented, only 5 percent of three-year-olds and 16 percent of four-year-olds attended preschool; in 2002 the proportions were 42 percent and 67 percent, respectively. While some of this increase is due to demographic changes (such as greater percentages of single-parent households or those in which both parents work), it is encouraging that many more children participate in structured learning experiences at younger ages than ever before.

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APA Citation

Stipek, D. (2005). Early childhood education at a crossroads. Harvard Education Letter, 21(4), 1-3,7.