Early Education in the News
As to the question of whether New Jersey can afford to expand public pre-K, the answer is clearly "yes." Pre-K pays off so well because we pay a high price for failure, particularly in a time when even children from middle-income families have much too high a chance of needing long-term special education or dropping out of school.
State lawmakers want to put tens of thousands of 4- and 5-year-olds in preschool and kindergarten next year under the school finance act.
Southern states lead the nation in the overall quality of publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds, a recent study shows, but you wouldn't know it in Mississippi.
Results from a recent survey sent home with elementary school students showed most parents would like to see an early childhood preschool program in the St. Charles School District. Nearly 84 percent of about 400 parents who responded said they would send their child to the preschool, and about 75 percent said they would be able to pay tuition if it were on a sliding scale based on income.
D.C. Council members yesterday gave unanimous preliminary approval to legislation expanding the city's educational offerings to 3- and 4-year-olds, a move that coincides with a national trend to serve students before they reach kindergarten.
Georgia and Tennessee lawmakers this week are working on budgets that could add 1,000 new pre-kindergarten seats in the Peach State and nearly 300 additional seats in Tennessee.
The Abbott system has directed state funding to 31 districts designated as impoverished. They include one in Bergen County, Garfield; and two in Passaic County, Paterson and the city of Passaic. The districts have benefited from a huge influx of aid to bolster their relatively low property tax revenues, two mandatory years of pre-kindergarten education, and the bulk of a multibillion-dollar school construction program.
Connecticut can be justifiably proud that its early childhood education programs rank among the tops in the nation, but the state still has much work to do to meet the needs of poor children in its urban centers such as Bridgeport.
There's widespread consensus about the benefits of early education programs. Both proponents and critics agree that kids who attend preschool do better than other children in the same age who do not, particularly early on.
Illinois ranked first in the nation for providing access to 3-year-olds and 12th for providing access to 4-year-olds. The state also fared well on quality, meeting nine of 10 academic benchmarks in areas such as class size, and the number of qualified teachers and aides in classrooms.
A cornerstone education proposal from Gov. Phil Bredesen appears to have enough support, including from the Republican chairwoman, to pass a key Senate committee when it reviews the state's proposed education budget on Wednesday. Bredesen's $25 million proposal would expand pre-kindergarten funding by about 250 classrooms statewide, with an emphasis on broadening the program to include middle-class children.
The value of early childhood edu cation is well recognized, yet we don't do enough of it in this country. Harrisburg School District, which has developed an innovative, research-based pre-kindergarten program for 500 children, serves only half of the 3- and 4-year-olds in the district.
A plan to create a state Office of Early Childhood Education from Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, moved forward in a Minnesota Senate committee Wednesday. The office, whose director would be appointed by the governor, would coordinate programs currently administered out of the departments of Education and Human Services, including Early Childhood and Family Education, school readiness, Head Start and child care assistance programs.
Preschool providers were hoping that the per-child reimbursement rate from the state would increase by $500, to $8,500. The money is crucial, they say, to maintain the quality of their programs as state requirements increase.
To break the stalemate, Senate Democrats on Monday dropped their demands that Kaine's preschool initiative be expanded to include some 4-year-olds eligible for reduced-priced school lunches, as Kaine had proposed. Currently, only 4-year-olds eligible for free school lunches are eligible for pre-kindergarten services. Instead of expanding the program to a new group of 4-year-olds, House and Senate budget negotiators agreed to spend an additional $20 million over two years to bolster the existing system.
Studies show that 80 percent of a child's brain development occurs in the first five years. [State Treasurer Jack] Markell's [proposed] plan includes a $12.5 million proposal that would subsidize 75 percent of an instructor's pay to help eligible early-childhood centers hire and retain well-trained educators.
Nationwide, studies have shown that 6 to 9 percent of first- and second-graders started kindergarten about a year after they were eligible — a scenario some educators call "academic redshirting." But when to send a child to kindergarten is an issue many parents still grapple with, and researchers have yet to determine which children really benefit from redshirting, said Beth Graue, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an expert on academic redshirting.
Anyone who doubts the value of early childhood education programs needs only to compare those costs with the costs of remedial education for 2,000 students. Indeed, the best argument for early childhood education is that it costs much less in the long run to get kids off to a good start than it does to fix them after they have already failed.
A $10 billion operating budget the state House passed Tuesday includes close to $1 million lawmakers had previously cut for Head Start and another early education program.
Block building provides a natural context to develop early math concepts, such as numbers, quantity, measuring, symmetry and patterns as well as comparisons such as more or less. Researchers found a significant relationship between preschool block performance and the number of math courses taken, the number of honors courses, math grades achieved and math test scores.