Early Education in the News
In the past, state regulators' inspections of child-care centers and homes for safety, quality and cleanliness typically were cloaked in bureaucratic obscurity. To see the records, parents often had to drive to a state office during the workday or file cumbersome written requests under state freedom-of-information laws. Now, 20 of the 50 states have begun posting the records online, and at least 13 more plan to do so soon.
Thanks to Delaware Stars for Early Success -- the state's five-star quality rating and improvement system for early care providers -- the Wilmington child care center has revitalized the playground, added libraries and sandboxes in every classroom and put several staff members through intense professional development.
No one is suggesting mandatory pre-school. Parents should be supported as a child's first teacher. I suggest a state delivery system of early learning that is voluntary but fully funded and available to all.
A bid by state educators to lift student achievement off the bottom has turned into a key point of controversy in Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget proposal. The issue under debate is Jindal's proposal to spend $14 million on a new program for improving reading skills for children from pre-kindergarten through fourth grade.
There is an opportunity here to invest in education where there will be a measurable payoff. Washington state has moved ahead, increasing funding for preschool programs substantially, but there should be more, and more outlets for private contributions involvement.
Providing children with quality preschool has the power to eliminate academic achievement gaps, lower crime rates, decrease dependence on social services and boost employment opportunities later in life, two decades of research has shown. Early childhood education might not be a magic bullet to solve all social ailments, but it's by far the best return on an investment society can make, said Greg Steinhoff, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development.
This year marks the first time that Pennsylvania has dedicated state funding for preschool programs, a decision driven in part by research contending that every dollar spent on high-quality Pre-K programs results in $17 less in future spending on education, crime and social welfare.
What effect the prekindergarten program might have on 4-year-olds once they reach their teen years would be beneficial for parents, educators, politicians and other taxpayers to know.
The 2007 Kids Count report by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, released early today, says the state has received national attention for its pre-K efforts. "For the past two years, Tennessee was recognized by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) as one of only six states with the highest quality Pre-K program standards," said the report, titled "Opportunity for All Children in Tennessee."
Shopping for preschools for your little one for the first time is exciting, but it can be difficult to know which is the best choice. The first thing you should consider, says Amita Gupta, an associate professor of early childhood education at The City College of New York, is what kind of environment you are comfortable with.
Although funding for Gov. Phil Bredesen's $25 million pre-kindergarten expansion program has been cut from next year's budget, Sumner County school officials say they are moving forward with plans to launch two new pre-K classes this August.
Despite recent disasters including the 2001 terrorist attacks, many child-care providers don’t have emergency plans for their charges, experts say. Parents need to take matters into their own hands by asking if plans are in place, says Linda Smith, executive director of the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies.
But there's a big payoff to another kind of public investment: in quality preschool. That modifier is important, since quality early childhood education is the only kind found to make a real difference down the line.
The Early Learning Council that would be created by Senate Bill 2878 "is key in establishing a comprehensive, quality early learning system" to be known as Keiki First Steps, said Anna Peters of the Kaua'i Good Beginnings Alliance. The bill relating to early learning sits on the desk of Gov. Linda Lingle.
Toddlers are shaping up to be the next generation of preschoolers, a pattern fueled by fears that poor children aren't ready to learn when their first school bell rings. University of Texas researchers say the answer is to start younger. They are using a $6 million federal grant to test out preschool for poor 2- and 3-year-olds in Houston and Tallahassee, Fla., day-care centers.
A recent University of Virginia study noted that the better the interaction a child has with a teacher in preschool, the better the child's academic development.
With this school year's large numbers of Chicago Public Schools students dying from gunfire, the 15-year teacher [Marisol Sierra] has had to update her curriculum to include lessons that could mean life or death to her young charges, she said. The students, some in pigtails and some wearing shirts with animal figures, immediately began talking about the latest run-ins they and their families have had with the gang members who loiter on their blocks.
Some type of publicly funded pre-K is operating in almost every parish, but all the public pre-Ks target low-income children. As a result, the program misses many children who would benefit.
Approval of the preschool culminates more than two years of efforts and research into establishing the unique program by district administrators and staff. Robert Mulligan, supervisor of special education for the Point Pleasant Beach School District, said the integration of typical students and those with special needs will be a positive step for the entire preschool class.
Marshall University has received a $300,000 award from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to expand a statewide Pre-K professional development initiative that will impact Pre-K educators throughout West Virginia, according to Monica DellaMea, director of the Marshall University Early Education Outreach Program (MUEEOP). The MUEEOP, a service program of the Marshall University College of Education and Human Services, will expand its current capabilities to provide sustained professional development for West Virginia Pre-K teachers throughout the state.