Early Education in the News
Kindergarten used to be mostly about play: singing songs, "housekeeping" in a Little Tikes kitchen and being read to. That is changing largely because of full-day kindergarten, which has swept the nation's public schools in the past 20 years, stretching the instructional day from 2 1/2 hours to six. The new kindergarten is partly a societal concession to busy two-income families and partly a response to the growing sense that 5-year-olds are ready for formal study.
Research and my experience have shown me that helping kids get the right start in life is one key to preventing crime. Quality programs like Head Start and Early Head Start reduce later crime. These programs not only provide our nation's most vulnerable children with a social and educational foundation; they are also a crime prevention tools.
[A] recent report by the Southern Education Foundation bore welcome news - the South leads the nation in terms of pre-kindergarten education, the report found. Perhaps unsurprisingly to residents weary of reading of Mississippi's educational failings, the Magnolia state is the sole exception, the only Southern state without a state-supported pre-k program.
Teachers who want to educate Pennsylvania's youngest children will face new certification requirements before they can enter the classroom. In six years, Pennsylvania plans to require an early-childhood education certificate for teachers of students in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade under rules adopted yesterday by the State Board of Education.
Georgia's Bright from the Start is looking for ways to improve teacher education and facilities, the department's director said here Friday. "We want to evaluate schools and see how they care for their facilities," said Marsha Moore, director of Bright from the Start, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, during a luncheon with the department's "community partners" at Dalton State College.
Percentage-wise, Utah has more preschoolers than any other state, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released today. Yet even with 247,801 kids younger than 5 years old making up 9.7 percent of the state's population, Utah has no state-funded preschool program.
Gov. Butch Otter plans to cut $2.3 million from [Head Start and Parents as Teachers] programs, in an ill-advised effort to plug a hole in the Department of Health and Welfare budget. Once again, Idaho is going backward on pre-kindergarten programs — when the state should help parents prepare their children for the increasing demands of elementary school.
This year, for the first time, parents can go online to see how well preschools that participated in the [Florida's] free pre-K program last year are teaching children. Schools were scored on how ready this year's 5-year-olds were for kindergarten. A school's "readiness rate" is based on three screening tools given in the first 30 days of kindergarten -- a teacher's observations, a student's ability to identify letters and their fluency with the beginning sounds of a word.
Indication of a shift in how we prioritize children in Pennsylvania was clear at the Pre K Counts Leadership Council meeting. About 100 business, education, and civic leaders joined Gov. Rendell, Sen. Bob Casey, former Gov. Richard Schweiker, Dr. Steven Barnett (National Institute of Early Education Research), David Lawrence (The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation) and James Rohr (chairman and CEO, PNC Financial Services Group Inc.) to promote a better understanding of the need for enhanced and expanded pre-kindergarten education.
Despite lagging the nation in most areas of education, the South is leading the country in educating 3- and 4-year-olds in pre-kindergarten programs, according to a new report. Georgia ranks fifth in the nation for the percent of children served by state-funded programs that get youngsters — primarily low-income — up to speed on math and language skills and reading readiness. The report, released by the Southern Education Foundation Thursday, examines pre-k trends across the United States and in 15 Southern states.
While Synergy 2007 will focus on many aspects and levels of education, [Ted] Maple, the director of the Success By 6 initiative of the United Way of Central Indiana, will highlight the importance of early childhood education. The Central Indiana program focuses on three different areas:
• Data tracking and advocacy about early childhood education.
• Broad-based campaigns or programs for parents and caregivers.
• Neighborhood focus projects working with childcare providers in schools.
Expanding the Head Start preschool program for 3- and 4-year-olds across the state has emerged as a priority among lawmakers over a competing proposal to provide full-day kindergarten at all schools. [S]upporters point to 40 years of national research that shows how Head Start pays off for children and the public.
A federal initiative to improve the living conditions of service members has unwittingly rendered an untold number of military households ineligible for state-subsidized preschool, which used to be free for them. The military for the past decade has worked with private industry to build, renovate and manage base and off-base housing. However, subsidies to pay for such housing – even though they go directly to private property managers – count as income and put military families over state limits for the free program, called State Preschool.
Children from middle income families are losing out when it comes to their education. According to Dr. Steve Barnett, a national leader in early education, that is because they don't have access to pre-k.
Through investments in high-quality voluntary preschool for at-risk children, by 2050 Wisconsin could reap benefits of $13.60 for every dollar it puts into early learning, according to a study released Thursday. The report estimates that early education programs begun now at a cost of $6,300 per child for Wisconsin's poorest 3- and 4-year-olds would result in more than $5.1 billion in annual benefits by 2050, largely because more children would mature to be taxpaying wage-earners and fewer would fall to crime.
A study of one program, [economist Rob] Grunewald said, estimated that each dollar invested in the program returned $17 over the course of 62 years. Some of that went to the program participants in the form of higher earnings, but a vast majority of the return came back to the public in the form of lower government costs (for special education, incarceration, and welfare, for instance) and higher tax revenues (from higher earnings).
The Sonics, the environment and family leave were among the issues that dominated this year's debate in the Legislature, but Washington's youngest children quietly walked away as one of the biggest winners. The final $33 billion budget is packed with new money for preschool, prekindergarten and all sorts of child care.
A bill that will bring a new level of organization and support to pre-kindergarten education programs is due to come up for a vote in the Senate this week, and it deserves support. The new law sets up a process to develop high-quality early education programs, in partnership with private providers or through the public schools.
Alabama already gets the quality part right; state-funded pre-K sites were rated a perfect 10 - one of only two states to receive that honor - by the National Institute for Early Education Research. Where we stumble is on quantity. The state provides a measly $4.3 million a year for pre-K, enough to reach only 2 percent of the state 4-year-olds. Georgia, by comparison, spends $277 million a year on pre-K; Florida spends more than that.
Policy makers in Kansas have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our future generations. In this year's budget proposal, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius requested $6.7 million for Kansas school readiness initiatives, including expanding pre-kindergarten pilots, expanding Kansas Early Head Start, and increasing the availability and improving the quality of early care for infants and toddlers.