Early Education in the News
Boston's public preschool and kindergarten programs are hobbled by mediocre instruction, unsanitary classrooms, and dangerous schoolyards, according to a first-ever study of the programs. The quality of instruction and facilities in 70 percent of the classrooms, the Wellesley Centers for Women study said, is inadequate to achieve the school system's primary goal: To get the children, most of whom are black and Hispanic and from low-income families, up to speed by first grade so they are as prepared as their white and Asian peers.
Statewide survey results confirm what early education advocates have been saying for years: Hawai'i's youngest need to be better prepared to enter kindergarten. A survey of 628 kindergarten teachers showed that only 8 percent of them felt that most of their students started kindergarten with all the skills necessary for success.
The Iowa Legislature is currently considering a bill that would create a voluntary statewide preschool program that would be available to all 4-year-olds. The proposed legislation would only require programs to offer 10 hours of class time each week.
Up until now, we have had a patchwork system of early education. We now have two examples of attempts to provide opportunities to children - the collaboration with Newport Independent Schools and Ohio's plan to increase access to early education and care.
A Rutgers University study of pre-kindergarten programs for 3- and 4-year-old children ranked West Virginia sixth in the nation in terms of accessibility and quality of such programs. It noted that our state is one of just six that, by law, make pre-kindergarten programs available to all 4-year-olds.
The bill, which passed 99-45, would allow for the expansion of publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs but caps that expansion. The legislation also sets up a protocol for how those programs are formed, operated and funded, including requiring that districts consider existing private providers.
Parents on a guilt trip after reading last week's widely reported news that nonmaternal child care and education cause aggressive behavior in children as late as sixth grade should relax a little. That's because reaching such a sweeping conclusion from one limited study needlessly exacerbates the worries of working moms and dads who have few good alternatives for affordable child care outside the home.
The research seems clear: Children who attended high-quality preschool programs do better in school, are less likely to break the law and are more likely to have high-paying jobs as adults. [Yet a] 2003 University of Delaware study of early childhood programs in the state called the quality of curriculum planning and implementation "weak," particularly in the areas of math, science and -- for some -- language and literacy.
If Florida were to require pre-k teachers to have four-year degrees, it would not be alone. Already, 22 of the 37 other states that have pre-k programs have that mandate, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.
Under the governor's bold proposal, millions more will be invested in early childhood programs and additional preschool slots, so more youngsters will have access to Connecticut's innovative programs. With a quality preschool education, students will be more likely to graduate from high school, find a secure, well-paying job and become less likely to commit a crime when they become adults.
Every day that we fail to protect kids from abuse or neglect, or fail help working families afford quality early education, we increase the risk that you or someone you love will fall victim to violence. Oregon's members of Congress can help improve the lives of thousands of children and protect all of us from becoming victims of crimes by supporting an increase in Head Start.
In other words, the higher-than-average incidence of bad behavior showed up only among kids who spent three or four years in day care before the age of 4½. Also, only 5 percent of the kids in the study spent four years in day care, and only 10 percent spent three years.
Since 2002, per-student funding for pre-school education in Texas has declined by 20 percent. Given the positive relationship between pre-kindergarten education and later school success, this decrease in spending at this prime learning period should grab our attention. While the spending rate puts the state at 26th — quite a bit higher than Texas often fares in such rankings — it isn't a level that fosters high-quality pre-school across the board.
We want to make sure that in the coming year Gov. Charlie Crist and the Legislature realize the promise of the constitutional amendment voters overwhelming passed in November 2002, and provide all of Florida's children with pre-kindergarten classes taught by qualified teachers with bachelor's degrees. According to the latest annual report from the National Institute for Early Education, the quality of Florida's pre-K program ranks among the lowest in the nation.
About 40 percent of Latino 3- and 4-year-olds (and 5-year-olds not yet in kindergarten) are enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs, compared with about 60 percent of white and African American children, according to the District-based advocacy group Pre-K Now. Latino education advocates said they are battling a misperception that Hispanic parents are less concerned about teaching young children.
A new study finds that Spanish-speaking preschoolers are better adjusted in class when their teachers speak at least some Spanish, compared to children whose teachers speak only English. The key finding of the study, by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC Chapel Hill, tends of refute conventional wisdom that English-only pre-kindergarten programs help close achievement gaps among children from different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
Nearly half the state's 4-year-olds have enrolled in Florida's free preschool - an effort that at once impresses and worries those in the field of educating young children.
While Indiana and its Legislature debate whether or not to fund statewide full-day kindergarten, other states, recognizing that early childhood education is a powerful learning tool, are wisely looking at strengthening prekindergarten education.
Most parents can readily attest that earlier is better when it comes to helping children. Indeed, the oft-repeated parenting maxim "Get them while they’re young" is not just homespun wisdom but a consistent finding of social scientists who study government programs for disadvantaged youths. One of the best investments government can make to raise academic achievement and reduce welfare dependency and crime is the provision of quality preschool programs.
Alabama's state-funded pre-kindergarten program is a classic good news, bad news story. The good news is that Alabama has one of the top quality programs in the nation. The bad news is that it reaches only 2 percent of the children who might need it.