Early Education in the News
Stressing the importance of preschool, a state task force says Kentucky should spend $30 million a year to expand a voluntary program for low-income families. Kentucky's public preschool program is currently open only to 4-year-olds whose family incomes do not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level - or about $31,000 for a family of four - and 3- and 4-year olds who have a disability.
West Virginia already is a leader in early childhood education, offering "pre-K" programs to most parents who want their children to get at least some schooling before kindergarten. The state has received national attention both for the comprehensiveness of its "pre-K" system and the quality of programs offered through it.
Louisiana's public school classes for 4-year-olds won some praise Tuesday in a new report, but the state's program remains well behind top efforts in the South. The findings are part of a study issued by the Southern Regional Education Board, which tracks education trends in Louisiana and 15 other states.
More public schools are working closely with community day-care centers and preschools to help prepare children for kindergarten. State and federal testing requirements in upper grades have trickled down to preschool, which is now expected to cover material that used to be introduced in kindergarten.
Calling for an overhaul of the current patchwork of uneven preschool programs, UPK proponents invoke neuroscientific evidence of brain growth rather than child-care needs. They cite the long-term economic benefits of an early investment in boosting "cognitive skills" and "school readiness," especially for low-income children.
We should invest in a proven resource that we know will spark economic development for generations to come. We should start investing in our families from the very beginning, through early childhood education.
This state boasts two nationally recognized programs, "Smart Start" and "More at Four," which expand access to early childhood education. But there is still much to be done to ensure that these two programs receive the funding necessary so that all eligible children in this state are able to participate in high-quality early education programs.
Previous research shows that the universal public pre-k program gave gains in several learning indicators for all participating children, especially those from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. New data indicates the classroom activities led by the teachers may be the chief reason for the higher performance, said William T. Gormley.
How do you build a better preschool? To find out, Massachusetts has given $4.6 million in grants to programs in 62 cities and towns. The early results of this funding from the Department of Early Education and Care show that preschool should meet working families' needs and advance teachers' educations.
Forty-three percent of Virginia's 4-year-olds were not enrolled in preschool in 2005, according to U.Va.'s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. Children from families below the poverty level had the lowest rate of pre-school enrollment.
The children are 3 to 6 years old and are assisted in making the transition from preschool to kindergarten at Shepherd. The kindergarten teachers and students know the preschoolers because they attend class in the same building, and the preschool school kids are used to being in the classroom by the time they get to kindergarten.
The State Board of Regents gave a boost to working parents Monday by urging more money for full-day prekindergarten programs. Although parents celebrated earlier this year when lawmakers okayed a statewide expansion in schooling for 4-year-olds, the money was limited to half-day programs that last 2 1/2 hours.
The latest research data has proven that more than 85 percent of a child's brain network is wired in the first five years of life. Environmental and health factors, combined with early learning experiences, determine their lifelong ability to learn, to relate to others, to be productive in the workplace and to be fully engaged citizens.
A national satellite conference on pre-kindergarten Wednesday was an encouraging view of the success early childhood education efforts are enjoying around the country. Indiana earned no mention among the success stories, nor was any of its elected leaders featured as pre-K champions.
Louisiana's public prekindergartens have lasting results: the first children who had a full year in the program did significantly better than other third-graders on standardized tests, an expert says. "In my opinion, Louisiana has consistently implemented the highest quality pre-K in the history of the United States," Craig Ramey, a Georgetown University professor who has studied the program since it began in January 2002, told the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday.
New Jersey's substantial investment in early childhood education through the Abbott preschool program is producing results. The National Institute for Early Education Research recently reported that the learning gains children made in preschool continued into elementary school.
Mi casa es verde. Anyone needing help translating that sentence can ask the preschoolers at Chesterbrook Academy in St. Charles, 600 Courtyard Drive. The school's 110 2-year-old through kindergarten students are the first round of preschoolers learning Spanish as part of a new program rolled out by the academy this fall.
Children with disabilities often fall behind academically due to a lack of sufficient special education opportunities. Richmond Public Schools has teamed up with the Faison School for Autism to create a free preschool classroom specifically designed to meet the unique needs of autistic children.
Whether its through learning to count, reciting the alphabet, or even socializing with other children, the Head Start program aims to give children just that: a head start on their educational journey. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Office of Head Start, the program is designed to promote school readiness by "enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services" to children and families.
If Alabama invested in making a quality pre-kindergarten program available to the children of all parents who wanted to take advantage of it, the economic return to the state could rival the state's investment in recruiting such hard industries as automobile manufacturers. The long-term results of investing in pre-k include increased likelihood of graduation and secondary education, increases in wages and tax revenues, and reductions in public assistance, delinquency and crime.