A Constitutional Right to Preschool?

Posted: 14 Oct 2004

See all articles by James E. Ryan

James E. Ryan

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education

Date Written: September 15, 2004


Currently, about twenty-five percent of all children ages three through five, who are not in kindergarten, attend a publicly-funded preschool. A bit more than twenty-five percent attend a private preschool. As for the public programs, the federal government traditionally played the leading role in providing access to preschool, but that is beginning to change. Forty states and the District of Columbia currently sponsor pre-school programs, up from ten in 1980. Both federal and state programs typically target poor children, but even then only serve a limited portion of the eligible group. As a result, millions of three- and four-year old children do not attend preschool, many because they have no access to public programs and cannot afford private ones.

This article examines whether access to publicly-funded preschool ought to be expanded and, if so, whether courts - state or federal - should play a role in that expansion.

Keywords: constitututional, preschool, education

JEL Classification: 120, 128

Suggested Citation

Ryan, James E., A Constitutional Right to Preschool? (September 15, 2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=605341

James E. Ryan (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

6 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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