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President Obama proposed universal preschool during his State of the Union Address. Comments from Facebook:

The government should not — and cannot — substitute for parents. Stay-at-home-moms work well, too!

Why is it so off-limits for the government to encourage marriage before kids, two-parent households, and a stay-at-home parent as the ideal? No 3- or 4-year-old needs to be in full-time, all-day preschool. That's called daycare.

Treat the causes of poverty, not the symptoms. Oh, and schooling is not free. We all have to pay for it, which makes it more challenging for those families that are trying to make it on one income.

Vanessa Theurer

I went to a meeting last night to sign my daughter up for kindergarten and was given a list of things she is expected to be able to do.

Most of it, such as spelling, writing her name and knowing her phone number, I could teach her at home. However, there were several things, such as working in small groups to complete a task, that I would have been at a loss for if she weren't in preschool.

Without preschool, she'd be at a significant disadvantage compared with some classmates who are already comfortable in group activities. Not to mention that separation from me and my husband is easy now. I think she will have a smooth transition to kindergarten.

Katy Shaw

We used to have two-parent homes where children learned from their moms, dads and extended families.

David Tate

I agree with the concept that we need to do a better job preparing our children for life and the workforce. However, is expanding our existing scholastic model to universal pre-K the best way to do it?

How about we promote a rigorous curriculum for the existing 13 years before we seek to add more?

James Oerichbauer

Part-day preschool is an enjoyable social opportunity for the little ones. Beyond that, its only practical purpose is a babysitting service.

The best way to improve education is to ensure the curriculum is developmentally appropriate and takes into account a child's need for physical activity. Pushing kids too early serves no purpose.

Deb Roberson

Letter to the editor:

Commentary writer Kay Hymowitz is right in one respect: Universal preschool won't fix the academic and social woes young people are experiencing. She is wrong, however, about the nature of preschool: It's not "a way of gently introducing children to the discipline and structure of formal education." She puts the academic cart before the social-emotional horse ("Universal pre-school not the solution: Column").

From infancy to about age 5, children's main activities involve learning who they are, what they like, what they are good at, and how to manage their bodies and their feelings. Of course, they usually learn their letters and numbers, but these should not be the focus. Putting academic learning ahead of play harms children and disrespects parents.

Instead of pushing formal schooling into early childhood, let's consider offering universal parenting education.

To the extent that we can prepare parents for the complex and ever-changing responsibilities of raising a child, we will have a better chance at reducing the financial and personal toll of young people's depression, alcohol, drug abuse and other behavioral problems. At the same time, we will help them achieve success in school.

Eve Sullivan, founder, Parents Forum; Cambridge, Mass.

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