Early Education in the News
Wisconsin's dedication to early kindergarten is enshrined in the state's constitution, but the state's success in following that mandate to educate 4-year-olds has risen and fallen for more than a century. This year, however, the state is closer than ever: 85 percent of school districts now offer early kindergarten (called "4K") in Wisconsin, the state Department of Public Instruction announced this week.
Early Learning Challenge Fund: What looked like a done deal in 2009 became a cliff-hanger in contentious debates over higher education funding, and by the end of March it fizzled, causing disappointment among many early education advocates.
Iowa's voluntary preschool program for 4-year-olds just turned 4. It has grown dramatically over these years - from a $15 million initial state investment in fall 2007 to $64.5 million today, serving half of all 4-year-olds in the state. It is a good time for an assessment of progress.
The intellectual and social skills a child develops in those years influence the rest of his life, preparing him not just for elementary and secondary school but also for college and a career. So why not spend serious money on excellent nursery school and pre-kindergarten classes?
A task force Gov. Steve Beshear formed to examine early childhood development made eight recommendations Monday aimed at better preparing children to start school.
We have to keep patrolling the highways, for instance, and investigating and prosecuting child abuse and elder abuse, maintaining bridges, operating a court system and a prison system and a school system. Legislative leaders appear less committed to a service that should be equally non-negotiable: 4-year-old kindergarten for poor children in the state's poorest school districts.
So educators may never get to see a second round of the Investing in Innovation program, which helps districts scale-up promising practices, or a brand new fund to help states improve early childhood education.
Minnesota's first and most pressing need is to improve the quality of Minnesota's early-learning offerings. Considering that half of Minnesota children currently are not being prepared for school, we obviously have our work cut out for us.
The Children's Movement of Florida's legislative priorities include providing health insurance for more children, strengthening preschool curriculum standards and increasing mentoring programs.
Board members unanimously approved a new school calendar with a shorter summer break, an agreement to bring promising young teaching talent to the district, and agreed to expand the number of children served in all-day prekindergarten programs.
Research shows early childhood education helps children succeed in school, so they are more likely to go to college, more likely to enter the workforce and are less likely to commit crimes and enter the criminal justice system. A better-educated tax-paying workforce makes for a stronger economy.
Latest figures show a drop in the percentage of kindergartners statewide who attended preschool in the past two years. The number of kindergartners from low-income households has risen by 12 percent since the 2006-07 school year to 51 percent. Without preschool experience, children are more likely to fall behind in kindergarten and continue to struggle in future years.
Increasingly, districts are offering inclusion classes, generally with some kind of in-class support for the child with special needs. Those in the fields of education and psychology see this as an important trend.
New Mexico's pre-kindergarten program is experiencing its first significant funding decrease since the program began in fiscal year 2006, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pew Center on the States.
While Mississippi struggles with budget issues and tries to keep up with funding the basics in education, it still cannot ignore a long-time pressing need - early childhood education.
Statewide, 77 child-care centers, preschools and home-based child-care programs that serve more than 1,800 children have joined a rating system as part of an effort to improve the quality of early-learning programs for young children.
If I were appointed education czar of Minnesota or the nation, this is what I would do to help fight crime and help build a highly skilled work force that would compete, if not kick some butt, on a global scale: Adequately invest and fund quality child care and early pre-K education programs — particularly for low-income and at-risk kids.
Even as state legislators slice budgets for 2011, many lawmakers have crossed party lines to boost or maintain state spending on early child education programs, according to a report. The upbeat preschool funding report was released from Pre-K Now, a project of the Pew Center on the States.
This school year, more Hawaii kindergarten students started school without key skills, fewer had attended preschool and more than half came from low-income families, according to a new state Department of Education readiness report. The figures, all indicators of future academic outcomes for kids, put new urgency to long-term plans for a state-funded preschool program, say advocates and educators.
Sixty billion dollars a year would also pay for universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, with relatively small class sizes. Jane Waldfogel, a Columbia University professor, estimates that such a plan would cost between $46 billion and $56 billion a year, depending on class size.