Early Education in the News
Despite the clear connection between early experience and success in school, there has been an almost complete separation between the early-care community and school systems, on both the state and local level, across the country. Last month, Maryland became the first (and so far, only) state to overcome this divide.
Four years after voters overwhelmingly approved "high-quality" pre-kindergarten classes for the state's children, Floridians are left with a litany of half measures adding up to one unfulfilled promise. Now, when it comes to evaluating how well the program is working, the state DOE offers another half-measure.
The Denver City Council voted 11-1 Monday night to initially approve placing Mayor John Hickenlooper's proposed sales tax hike that would help preschools on the Nov. 7 ballot. The sales tax would raise about $12 million annually that would fund preschool tuition credits for the families of 4-year-olds.
The state of Tennessee is providing $20 million to launch 227 new pre-K classes, which are aimed at giving a head start in school to disadvantaged 4-year-olds. There is so much more needed as Tennessee tries to catch up with other states, but at least the Volunteer State is heading in the right direction.
As the Star-Bulletin's Dan Martin reports, a 2004 law directs schools to assess, then place children in junior kindergarten or kindergarten, based on ability. [Junior kindergarten] gets younger children into schools while providing the additional assistance some might need.
Belinda Rodriguez and her son, Drak Fernandez, came to the United States from Puerto Rico seven months ago to have a better life, but they still have problems. Drak, a 3-year-old with a persistent smile, is autistic — driving a wedge into the language barrier between Spanish and English because he barely speaks at all.
Districts [are] given flexibility in spending money for at-risk, preschool at-risk and bilingual students, as long as the expenditures are properly reported. Districts may use at-risk funds to provide all-day kindergarten, but they may charge a fee to parents for costs of the program.
In a bid to become the first state to offer free preschool for anyone who wants, Gov. Blagojevich Tuesday signed his historic "Preschool for All" program into law. Previously, only low-income students or kids otherwise academically "at risk" were eligible.
The single biggest gripe ... focuses on the lack of a pretest. Without one, it's impossible to determine which preschools helped children make gains and which enrolled students who already were prepared for kindergarten.
These children aren't just playing. They are preparing to learn by using their muscles to fine-tune their senses and motor skills.
Many preschools and Head Start programs operate for three to four hours a day, but recent studies have shown an all-day, high-quality preschool can help at-risk children better prepare for school. Children in extended-day preschool outperform children in half-day programs in literacy and mathematics, according to the National Institute of Early Education Research at Rutgers University.
Childcare workers in the state earn an average of $8.88 per hour or about $18,500 per year.
Gov. Phil Bredesen and department officials announced 227 new pre-K classes to serve 5,000 additional 4-year-olds statewide, bringing the total to 672 classes serving 13,500.
A strong body of research shows that well-run preschools can help at-risk kids, experts said Monday. "It's not so difficult to do, but you have to do it right," said Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, headquartered at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Leaders in government, business and philanthropy today will announce a new partnership aimed at preparing the state's youngest children for success in school.
The Center has the resources to serve 215 children from 6 weeks to 12 years old, including 14 classrooms, four indoor play areas, observation booths for training and three playgrounds. But its other role - the one businesses and educators applaud - is on-the-job training for Georgia's newest teachers, the foot soldiers in the effort to raise the bar for early childhood education.
Children of active-duty members of the military now qualify for state-funded pre-kindergarten programs. That provision, which also applies to pre-kindergarten children whose parents were hurt or killed during their military duty, was tucked into major legislation approved earlier this year that changes the state's school finance system.
Finding quality, reliable child care doesn't always have a fairy tale ending for parents, who want a way to judge the places they send their children. That's according to a recent survey by the United Way Association of South Carolina and a team of other advocacy groups.
Conventional wisdom has it that Latinos desire to have their children stay at home with family members instead of starting school at an early age. A new national study shows that 96 percent of Latinos believe it is important for children to attend a prekindergarten program.
Arizona voters will likely get to decide whether to sharply boost the tax on cigarettes to fund programs for early childhood development. Backers of an initiative drive filed more than 206,000 signatures Wednesday to put a measure on the November ballot to boost the levy by 80 cents a pack.