How did the United States move from seeing preschool as a way to give the nation's poorest children a “head start” to seeing preschool as the beginning of public education for all children? Advocates and policymakers have recently had remarkable success at expanding preschool in many parts of the country, and are gaining support for federal action as well. Yet questions still remain about the best ways to shape policy that will fulfill the promise of preschool. The Promise of Preschool investigates how policy choices in the past forty‐five years—such as the creation of Head Start in the 1960s, efforts to craft a child care system in the 1970s, and the campaign to reform K‐12 schooling in the 1980s—helped shape the decisions that policymakers are now making about early education. In addition to exploring the sources of today's preschool movement, the book also examines policy questions such as, should preschool be provided to all children, or just to the neediest? Should it be run by public schools, or incorporate private child care providers? What are the most important ways to ensure educational quality? By looking at these policy issues through the lens of history, the book offers a unique perspective on this important area of education reform, and explores how an understanding of the past can help spur debate about today's decisions.