Early Education in the News
Since the nation's welfare system was overhauled in 1996, New York City has received hundreds of millions of additional state and federal dollars intended to help women leave welfare for work and to greatly expand the city's low-income child care system. But the money has not significantly increased the number of licensed day care slots, for which the waiting list is now over 36,000.
On its final night, after weeks of squabbling about it, the Legislature finally produced a plan that would provide a free school-readiness program for every 4-year-old in Florida whose parents want it, beginning in August 2005. This foundation is strong enough to build on next year, when lawmakers have to figure out how to pay for pre-K.
The plan calls for pupils to be in class three hours a day, one hour shy of what the governor wanted. It also calls for a 10-to-1 child-to-teacher ratio, a considerably smaller one than what the House was seeking in its proposal along with a $7 million summer pilot program to begin in July in 10 school districts.
To prepare students for school and future academic and career success, some educators and politicians are getting behind an effort to offer preschool to all children in California. Proponents argue that students who do not attend preschool are behind academically when they enter kindergarten.
In announcing the first in a series of "KidsFirst" initiatives, Doyle said Wisconsin's "highest priority" must be investing in its children.
According to the 2000 census, 204,364 children under the age of five were living in Mississippi and only 54,058 of those children were enrolled in a preschool or nursery school.
The House paved the way yesterday for free preschool for thousands of Massachusetts 3- and 4-year-olds, passing a budget amendment that advocates hailed as historic. The amendment, pushed by House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, would set up two panels to sketch what a good preschool would look like, the type of qualifications the teachers should have, and who would run the schools.
Lawmakers are scrambling to create a program to provide prekindergarten to all 4-year-olds, but the governor said Tuesday it falls so short of what voters approved he is prepared to veto it. With three days left before lawmakers adjourn, the House and Senate are debating different versions of what will be the largest state-paid, prekindergarten program in the nation.
The judge's decision, the latest chapter in the 26-year battle over school funding in Massachusetts, could reshape classrooms across the state if the Supreme Judicial Court follows the recommendations. Her recommended remedies, which state education officials would carry out, include establishing free preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds, constructing adequate school buildings, and determining how much more money is needed for children with special needs.
To provide what some believe to be an academic edge in today's competitive classrooms, or even an athletic foot up, many parents postpone their children's entry into kindergarten so they are older in the grade than their peers. The irony of it, said Samuel J. Meisels, president of the Erikson Institute, a graduate school in child development in Chicago, is that parents who hold their children out of kindergarten because it is too academic add to pressures a year later to make it even more academic.
A universal pre-kindergarten program won preliminary approval from the Florida Senate on Wednesday, but it provides only half the classroom time first envisioned by proponents. The Senate plan would allow parents to choose between a 540-hour program offered by public, private or religious schools during the school year -- three hours a day for 180 school days -- or an intensive, 300-hour summer program.
Experts agree that in an age of increased testing and accountability, kindergarten isn't as easy at it used to be, which can create problems for some children. Because kindergartners must master more skills before they advance to the first grade, more students are being held back.
"There is nothing more important than investing in our youngest citizens," said Suzanne Clark Johnson, president of Voices for Virginia's Children. "If we fail to make an investment in our youngest citizens, we will pay the cost later."
If lawmakers in Tallahassee fail to give voters the high quality pre-kindergarten program we asked for two years ago, they will make it much more likely that one day you or someone you love will become a victim of crime and violence. By giving kids the right start in life, through programs such as high quality preschool, we can help ensure that they don't grow up to be violent criminals.
When Floridians voted to mandate "high quality" prekindergarten education for all of the state's 4-year-olds, the state became the first to hold a successful referendum on this issue. Unfortunately, what we are seeing is reminiscent of nothing so much as a political version of "bait and switch."
Early childhood education is probably the finest long-term investment a state can make. Evidence from other states and other decades suggests that the Blandin project will pay big dividends for central Minnesota.
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle believes more districts will adopt 4-year-old programs.
The Escondido program is just getting off the ground but excitement and expectations are high for the multipronged support system devised to help parents build school readiness among the neediest young children.
As the state's extra federal welfare cash disappears, lawmakers must choose among items such as literacy and work training programs and the highly touted free preschool program for poor children. The portion of the pre-K program [Louisiana Governor Kathleen] Blanco proposes using the $43.5 million in welfare money, plus another $4 million in state education money, to continue the preschool program at its current level.
A program to expand early-childhood education programs throughout Vermont and pay for them with tax dollars has won unanimous approval in the Senate. The Senate plan, which now moves to the House for review, encourages school districts to take part in a little-used state program that funds preschools associated with a public school system.