Early Education in the News
Head Start, the country’s early childhood development program, would be open to more children and see more money under a bill approved Wednesday by the Senate's education committee. The bill, which would renew for five more years the school readiness program aimed at disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-olds, is expected to go before the full Senate for a vote later this year.
The Senate Education Committee agreed Tuesday that Idaho school districts should be allowed to enroll 4-year-olds in voluntary preschool programs. The committee voted 6 to 2 to drop the minimum age for enrolling students in public schools from 5 to 4. The bill now goes to the full Senate. If it passes the Legislature, the bill would let school districts offer pre-school programs on a voluntary basis provided that no state money is used to fund them.
Statewide, Missouri public pre-kindergarten enrollment has more than quadrupled in four years — from 4,400 in the 2001-2002 school year to nearly 18,000 last year. Libby Doggett, the executive director of Pre-K Now, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., said Missouri’s pre-K boom is mirrored nationwide.
A child who's already behind when kindergarten starts is more likely to have trouble, to drop out, to get involved with crime, to end up in jail. The earlier intervention starts, the more hope there is of mitigating the damage a poor home environment can cause, and the greater likelihood of success down the line.
Speaking of preschool quality, there's another miniscule budget item Gov. Tim Kaine has proposed that could make a big difference. It would take Virginia the first step toward a system that rates the quality of child care.
Based on test score data provided by the state Department of Education in its annual release of the New Jersey School Report Cards, the cumulative three-year gap in scores between students in Abbott and non-Abbott school districts is decreasing, for the most part.
Almost a decade ago, thanks to a low-key push by a small group of state legislators, business executives and educators, Oklahoma agreed to pay for one year of prekindergarten. The program is voluntary, but 70 percent of 4-year-olds here now attend public preschool, more than in any other state. In every classroom, the head teacher must have a bachelor's degree — nationwide, most preschool teachers don't — and there must be a teacher for every 10 students.
It has long been ironic that New Jersey is one of the biggest-spending states on education but fails to universally offer a program considered basic in many parts of the country: full-day kindergarten. But the state is considering altering its school-funding formula so all districts can afford full-day kindergarten.
One national expert in early education thinks the money already put into the program is a good investment — if it has high-quality teachers and strong academics. Steven Barnett is director of the National Institute for Early Education Research. The group rated Bredesen's pre-K initiative as one of the top "high quality" programs in the nation last school year.
Ohio's Early Learning Initiative is short of its goal of enrolling 12,000. As of Dec. 10, the program was serving 9,361 youngsters. That's up from this time last year when the program had 7,600 children, but still far from providing crucial preschool services to the children who need it the most. In fact, 12 of Ohio's 88 counties -- all outside Northeast Ohio -- still lack an Early Learning Initiative program.
The Parents as Teachers early education program is a Missouri original, one of the state's most successful exports to other states and countries. It was piloted in four Missouri school districts in 1981 and since then has served more than half a million Missouri families and has been modeled in 44 states and several foreign countries, such as China.
Vermont's early childhood education programs need better coordination but should still be funded by tax dollars, a special committee recommended Thursday. The panel's recommendations, which are expected to be drafted into legislative proposals, may not quell criticisms that those who work in public education are trying to take over private day care and other early education programs.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer promised to breathe new life, and dollars, into the prekindergarten program during a policy speech Monday at the State Education Building. Spitzer pledged to make "quality" prekindergarten programs "available to every child who needs it within the next four years."
[Governor Chet Culver] toured western Iowa Wednesday to promote his educational package in his first budget that includes $20 million in additional spending for early childhood education. His early education spending is geared to have it available to all Iowa students, Culver said.
Some Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday that there might not be enough money in the state budget over the next two years to give all Minnesota children access to all-day, everyday kindergarten — an issue they touted as a top priority this session — while meeting other education needs. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, said Democrats also want to invest in preschool programs, so lawmakers may look to phase in full-day kindergarten by first offering it to at-risk children who need it the most.
Early education advocates, including the state's first lady, met with legislators yesterday to push for a statewide system of public and private preschools. But even lawmakers who support the plan warned there won't be enough to initially fund the costly program.
Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry proposed an allocation of $15 million for a pilot pre-kindergarten program for 3-year-olds and an additional $15 million to increase the public and private partnerships for 3-year-old programs.
State government should put more of its education money where it counts most: prekindergarten. The benefits of early-education programs are well-documented. The best investment the state of Alabama can make in education is to put prekindergarten within reach of every child who could benefit from it.
Students enrolled in the Arkansas Better Chance program show significant improvement in math, vocabulary and reading skills, according to a Rutgers University study released Thursday. "We wanted to celebrate the success, and we wanted to point out that we can't stop now," Gov. Mike Beebe said at a news conference announcing the results of the study.
All but 10 states have an early education system. Alaska does not, and the report found that children are cared for in a variety of programs, including private pre-schools, public programs, Head Start and Even Start and child-care centers.