The word that most aptly describes the momentum behind education reform going into 2007 is disenfranchised. This can be applied to students in grades P all the way to 16. It can also be applied to adults who want to go back to school, who never completed school, or who are learning English as a second language. It can be used to describe those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law. This word can be mixed and matched with pretty much any type of person that is deserving of more opportunity; and who isn’t? To be sure, the word "disenfranchised" will inevitably be used to call for more education funding, to fight for more equitable education and to appeal for universal education. "Disenfranchised" is the sort of descriptor that can be mixed and matched by any education reformer for any type of reform because it appeals to the conscience; it begs the decent person to look out for those amongst us who might need a little action on their behalf. “It is the right thing to do.” But be forewarned: those whose heartstrings are being pushed and pulled in every direction must try and be discerning about the various offerings and work through the maze of rhetoric so that the disenfranchised are truly helped by our efforts. Like it or not, sometimes the solutions can become part of the problem.
The effort behind universal preschool stems from the notion that some children are better prepared for Kindergarten than others. For a multitude of reasons, underprivileged children are not accumulating as much practice playing with the English language and they are not exposed to the types of concrete experiences which lay the foundation for learning abstract mathematical concepts. In my own observations with “disenfranchised” children,