Early Education in the News
Gov. Phil Bredesen said expanding the state's pre-kindergarten program and tweaking the funding formula for urban schools would be among his top education priorities in the next budget year. Speaking after a budget proposal from the state Department of Education on Thursday, Bredesen said expanding the pre-K program by $25 million each year would leave Tennessee with near-universal access by the time his second term ends four years from now.
Full-day kindergarten, in the long run, could help more Hoosier students earn high school diplomas. Just last month, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling, during a visit to Kokomo's Sycamore Elementary School, said states showing the greatest gains in education are those that are investing in early childhood education programs such as full-day kindergarten.
This year, the City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Christine Quinn, announced a goal to make public, full-day pre-kindergarten classes available for all the city's 4-year-olds. A court decision last week that ended the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit by setting $1.93 billion as the minimum amount New York City could receive in additional school aid could jeopardize efforts to expand the prekindergarten program, however.
Arkansas' pre-kindergarten program already stands to benefit state taxpayers with projected savings in education, prison, health and welfare costs, according to a report released Tuesday. But the state would see even greater economic benefits if the Arkansas Better Chance for School Success program were expanded to include all 3- and 4-year-olds statewide, said Clive R. Belfield, an economist at Queens College in New York City.
After nearly two weeks of waiting and wondering, Referendum 1A in Denver officially passes by a narrow margin, creating an unprecedented urban education system in America. Now, some wonder if it will blur the line between church and state.
Studies showing the long-term value of early education have spurred a nationwide movement for full-day kindergarten and even public preschool. New Jersey has been in the forefront of those efforts — but the focus has been exclusively on poor districts.
That constitutional amendment grew into the Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK), which was signed into law in early 2005. After only a little more than a year of operation, it's clear that the program is working - and that more can be done to make it work even better.
A new report says that for Mississippi to improve its economy, the state needs to strengthen its education system, from preschool through college. The [report] says Mississippi is the only Southern state that has no state-supported, voluntary preschool programs.
A movement to make public pre-schools the norm has come closer to starting its Chapel Hill pilot. Years in the making, it is the "FirstSchool" project out of UNC-Chapel Hill's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. Its mission: Extend the reach of elementary schools to children as young as 3 through quality-staffed pre-kindergarten programs.
A leading child development institute based at UNC-Chapel Hill wants to revolutionize education by enrolling 3-year-olds in public school. Researchers at UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute say quality education from ages 3 to 8 is crucial and that FirstSchool, the institute's name for its early schooling concept, would start all children on a level playing field, said Sharon Ritchie, co-director of the project.
The grants were made possible by last Tuesday's vote to approve Amendment 5. The amendment allows using a portion of interest income from the Nebraska School Lands Trust Fund for early childhood education.
The youngsters are part of a dual-language immersion program whose aim is to have non-English-speaking students and their English-speaking counterparts help each other become bilingual. Researchers who looked at dual-language immersion programs said that by the fifth grade, children achieve at roughly the same level or better than those who participate in standard bilingual programs.
There's no such thing as a magic bullet to ensure the health of the Bay State economy, but a proposal for universal early education for children of the commonwealth comes pretty close. The "Act Establishing Early Education for All," the result of a two-year process involving extensive public policy, economic and scientific research, - and now an important economic cost and benefit analysis - is one of the wisest investments Massachusetts can make in its economic future.
Halfway through a project aimed at preparing low-income toddlers for school, partners in the Wichita Cares program say they are seeing signs that children in the program will enter kindergarten more ready to learn. According to findings being released today by the Wichita school district, children in the Wichita Cares program are scoring high on preschool evaluations and showing few developmental delays.
Parental involvement is a buzzword in education, a recommended cure for high dropout rates, poor test scores and almost everything else that ails schoolchildren. But for immigrant parents, helping their children absorb lessons in an inscrutable language in a strange country has always been a distinctive challenge.
Ellen Frede, co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, said that larger gains would come as Abbott districts built on their strong preschool programs. In a 2005 report based on testing in the 15 largest Abbotts, her group found that students were better prepared for kindergarten. "The overwhelming data is this is a good use of state taxpayer money," she said.
The National Center for Education Statistics has reported that full-day kindergarten enrollment rose from 28 percent of the country's children in 1977 to 68 percent in 2004 and is still growing. The needs of parents play a part as well, especially in households where full-time workers juggle young children's half-day schedules.
Gov. Haley Barbour says Mississippi can't afford a full-scale, publicly funded preschool anytime soon, but he'll include $1 million in his budget to develop an experimental program to help the parents of young children. The governor also told an audience of about 50 child-care providers and educators at the Mississippi Telecommunications and Conference Center that he wants to see more educational content in the Head Start program, which helps children from low-income families.
W. Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, says that a good program requires a certain amount of money, though it isn't always the case that high costs equal high quality. State-funded preschools for underprivileged children cost $12,000 per child per school year, according to Ellen Frede, the co-director of NIEER and the former director of the state Office of Early Childhood Education.
Children who turn 5 even in June or earlier are sometimes considered not ready for kindergarten these days, as parents harbor an almost Darwinian desire to ensure that their own child is not the runt of the class. Yet research on whether the extra year helps is inconclusive.