Early Education in the News
Gov. Bob Taft's Head Start Plus program would provide all-day, year-round day care for 10,000 children from working-poor families. Instead of providing some social services, a caseworker for every 33 families would help refer parents to outside agencies.
The preschool years offer the optimal time to teach children how to control their impulses. Along with language and motor skills, young children in their first five years learn social and emotional patterns that stick with them for life.
The new budget is a rather plain version of its former fancy self: The original three-year proposal included a "distinguished educator" program, full-day kindergarten for everyone, and preschool for 127 low-income districts. Those programs were ambitious -- at least for Pennsylvania, which has been criticized by educators and advocates as one of only nine states in the country that provides no state funding for pre-kindergarten.
Advocates and policymakers [in California] hope to create a funding mechanism that over the next five to 10 years would provide for voluntary, free preschool that should be as accessible as kindergarten is today. Reform proponents believe early learning will boost achievement later in students' schooling and ultimately lead to more successful adults.
Florida can't afford to hire teachers with college degrees for its new pre-kindergarten program but still expects the classes to improve academic achievement, particularly among poor children who usually struggle, Gov. Jeb Bush said Monday. States need "top-notch programs," perhaps ones that cost as much as public school kindergarten, if they want to close the achievement gap and boost the performance of poor children, said Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.
Instead of struggling to play catch-up later on with older students, why not make sure all children get off to a solid start well before kindergarten?
Reducing bad behavior from the start could do wonders toward improving overall achievement. And studies in Chicago, Pittsburgh and North Carolina show that quality early care improves grade testing, reduces grade retention and special education, and increases high school graduation and likelihood of attending college.
If the business community wants state government to be an ally in the pursuit of prosperity, it should back efforts to get all young children ready for school.
A recent survey by the Minnesota Department of Education found that fewer than half of the state's kindergarten students arrived proficient, for their age, in math, literacy or social development. Steven Barnett, an early-childhood scholar at Rutgers University, says that even among middle-class kids, one in five will repeat a grade before they finish school and one in 10 will drop out.
A study by the foundation Dr. Weikart founded, High/Scope Educational Research Foundation in Ypsilanti, Mich., has played a large role in debates about Head Start and other early childhood programs for a generation. In 1962, in what was known as the Perry Preschool Project, Dr. Weikart took 123 low-income 3- and 4-year-olds and placed 58 in a preschool with highly trained, well-paid teachers who made weekly visits to parents.
I might seem passé, but I believe that the loss of creative thinking and play is a serious casualty of our modern times. Parents need to remember that the whole world is a virtual classroom and that play equals learning.
Beginning in the 2005 school year, Florida will become the second state in America to offer voluntary, high-quality prekindergarten to every 4-year-old. Do this right, and we will have children who perform far better in grade-school testing and, indeed, life.
The benefits are real, however, when funds are invested in early childhood development (ECD). Research shows that such programs can yield extraordinary economic returns.
Society is beginning to understand the link between early education and future academic success. A growing body of research shows that poor and minority children who attend high-quality preschool are better prepared for kindergarten, achieve higher test scores and graduation rates and are more likely to enroll in college.
Louisiana Gov.-elect Kathleen Blanco vowed Thursday that she will "search in every nook and cranny" to fund Louisiana's public school classes for 4-year-olds, despite state budget problems.
Private preschools that contract with public schools in the 30 urban special needs districts would get five-year contracts and better long-term planning under the Community Preschool Education Protection Act.
State officials are asking for a 14 percent increase in funding for the HOPE scholarship program.
Preschool teachers ($21,907): Day-care workers ($19,900) are notoriously underpaid, but the real dishonor is paid to the preschool teachers who lead our 3- and 4-year-olds in ABCs and 1-2-3s in our vast dual-income absence. Birth to age 5 are critical years in the development of a child's personality and intelligence, yet we pay these people little more than we fork out for a babysitter on a Saturday night.
Florida's "universal" pre-kindergarten program won't begin for two years, but public school officials already fear it will be run on the cheap.
[P]redictions of a budget shortfall next year of at least $300 million in the $17 billion state budget, and possibly much more, have put the state's first statewide preschool program and other services up in the air. The classes, called LA4, are designed to help children from poor families get the educational and social skills they need to do well in school.