The Political and Cultural Struggle over Early Education
by Bruce Fuller
“A colorful array of childcare and preschool options blossomed in the 1970’s as the feminist movement spurred mothers into careers and community organizations nurtured new programs. Now a small circle of activists aim to bring more order to childhood. Their battle cry, heard in a growing number of state capitals and school reform circles, seeks to create a more standard, state-run preschool program. For the young children already facing the rigors of play dates and harried parents juggling the strains of work and family, government is moving in to standardize childhood.
Sociologist Bruce Fuller traveled the country—-sitting in preschool classrooms, exploring into the origins of universal preschool in California and Oklahoma, and interviewing this robust movement’s eager leaders—to understand the ideologies of childhood and the raw political forces at play. He details how these new progressives earnestly seek to extend the rigors of public schooling down into the lives of very young children. Fuller then illuminates the stiff resistance by children’s activists, ethnic leaders, and conservatives, who hold less trust in government solutions and more faith in nonprofits and local groups in contributing to the upbringing of young children.”