Early Education in the News
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.
Large tutoring companies that have long helped high school students prepare for the SATs are now helping three- to six-year-olds prepare for kindergarten. There are no studies on the effects of private tutoring for young children, and many education experts believe parents can do just as good a job.
Vermont's publicly funded preschool programs are slowly growing. For years such programs were largely limited to youngsters who have disabilities, live in poverty or qualify as English language learners. During the past four years, however, some public school districts have broadened their programs beyond at-risk children.
Only two months into the current school year, 97,000 children are in the program administered by the Agency for Workforce Innovation. That's more than the entire past school year - August 2005 through June 2006 - when 96,295 children participated, also 44 percent of then-eligible children, said agency spokesman Warren May.
The first opportunity for extra investment in education comes when children are young. That's when they are most malleable and when poor children start to fall behind: Even at age 3, researchers find class-based differences in linguistic and emotional maturity.
But let's not hesitate any longer as a state to make a serious commitment to free, universal preschool. Funding needs to be predictable and expanded.
For a long time, [Montana Gov. Brian] Schweitzer believed the best way to address the increasing demand for skilled workers was to increase funding for higher education and, particularly for two-year programs, to help rapidly turn out a work force ready to meet shifting employment needs. But at the most recent Western Governors Conference, four world-renowned education specialists changed his mind.
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Children with severe reading problems usually struggle for years before getting the help they need. But a growing number of neurologists and educators say that with the latest diagnostic tests, children at high risk for these problems can be identified in preschool and treated before they ever begin to read.
We agreed to participate in Seniors4Kids, an initiative of Generations United and the Children's Campaign of Florida, because the intergenerational approach to this issue is such a natural fit: Older adults have an economic interest in the productivity of current and future workers; quality pre-K promotes successful, healthy families for generations to come; seniors thrive when involved in meaningful relationships with children; and older adults are an untapped resource to help communities address issues like quality pre-K.
Mayor John Hickenlooper is asking Denver residents to vote yes on Measure 1A, a ballot initiative that would increase the city sales tax by .12 percent - that's a mere 12 cents for every hundred dollars spent - to help pay for pre-K programs for all Denver 4-year-olds. A report released this year by the National Institute for Early Education Research found [positive] results in three longitudinal studies conducted in Chapel Hill, N.C.; Chicago; and Ypsilanti, Mich.
The human brain develops more rapidly between birth and age 5 than during any other period in human life. And research, such as the Abecedarian Project and the Chicago Child-Parent Center Longitudinal Study, show that children who are exposed to nurturing and stimulating environments early will perform better in elementary and secondary schools.
"Start Strong" is an initiative to expand classes for 4-year-olds throughout the state. But the project is still very much in the development phase, education officials say.
Educators, business leaders and parents called for Alaska to create a preschool system that will get young children excited about learning. Only about half of Alaska's children show up to kindergarten prepared to go to school, said representatives of the Ready to Read, Ready to Learn Task Force.
Through business initiative, Wisconsin could lead the nation in making early childhood education a top policy priority, a range of speakers said at an economic summit in Milwaukee on Monday. Citing early education as the best investment for building a better work force and preventing a bevy of social problems, speakers said businesses need to lead the charge for expanding learning opportunities for children younger than 5.
Growing academic demands - including batteries of standardized tests as early as third grade - have parents feeling pressure to help their kids get off to a faster start, and experts in early childhood development calling for balance.
The state Board of Education unanimously approved instructional guidelines for state-funded preschool programs on Wednesday. The regulations would set standards for the first time for public school programs enrolling children between 3 and 5 years old, such as a minimum 2 1/2-hour school day and a maximum class size of 20 students.
This fall, more Long Island school districts are sending 4-year-olds to public prekindergarten classes, and New York State is spending $50 million more on such programs after having added no new funding since 2000. This suggests that a major change in education, long overdue, is finally beginning to take hold.
The scores [the tests] get will be used to rate not the students but the pre-k schools they attended. The measurement is flawed in several ways, counters Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.
For every dollar spent on early childhood education, $7 is saved later through reduced costs for special education, welfare dependency and crime. That's why a growing coalition of Massachusetts' leading employers, whose executives are usually focused on workforce development at the college and high school level, is working to make early childhood education available to all.
Washington Learns, a steering committee led by Gov. Chris Gregoire, says public schools fail to adequately prepare students to compete in an increasingly global economy. It recommends that the state provide seamless education from early childhood through graduate school by working closely with preschools and day-care providers, aligning curriculum between high schools and colleges and lengthening the school year and school day to provide more instruction time.