Early Education in the News
Recently, Gov. Riley announced he will unveil a plan to significantly expand access to the pre-kindergarten program. Education officials welcomed the governor's commitment to leave fewer preschool children behind, but some have rightly stressed the importance of maintaining the current program's high standards.
The state's new school funding plan includes a proposal for expanding preschool programs to a level that could eventually serve 65,000 children and cost $850 million a year, according to state documents that include preliminary estimates.
There are few investments that the state can make that will pay off as well in the long run as pre-K education of at-risk children. Even in this time of tight budgets, state leaders should find funds for this vital service.
Children aged around four can be much better prepared for school by using "formal play" to teach them how to remember, pay attention and think, according to a study published today. The Tools of Mind curriculum has been tested for the first time by Prof Adele Diamond of the University of British Columbia and colleagues and they conclude it would be cheap and effective.
About 150 school districts across Michigan are facing state funding losses for this year's School Readiness preschool programs, leaving systems like Lincoln Park scrambling to find additional money or drastically reduce their programs. Due to the late signing of the state's 2007-08 budget, districts just recently learned their School Readiness funding amounts, according to Lindy Buch, director of the Office of Early Childhood Education and Family Services at the Michigan Department of Education.
Colorado needs to change the way it tests students to assess their annual progress, put more money into early-childhood education and attract and retain good teachers, a commission recommended Tuesday. [Governor Bill] Ritter, who attended the meeting at The Children's Museum, declined to back any specific plans but hinted at supporting the idea of putting money toward getting 11,500 needy kids off the waiting list for preschool programs.
There is much to celebrate in the fact that 257 new pre-K classrooms opened in Tennessee this year, serving about 4,000 more children in a program whose budget has grown to about $80 million a year. But the program should not be allowed to grow at the expense of the kind of training that will maintain the credibility of the program.
To get parents more involved in their children's education, School 11 has come up with a crafty plan: lure parents to school by inviting them to meet cool guest speakers. Every month, the elementary school asks students to bring along their parents to take part in the Power of the Pages Reading Club.
The reauthorization raises the eligibility ceiling from 100 percent of the poverty level for a family of four ($20,650) to 130 percent (26,845), with priority given to the neediest children. It also promotes participation of homeless and migrant children and children who are disabled or learning English.
With two overwhelming votes, Congress approved a bill yesterday that would boost teacher qualifications in federally funded Head Start preschools, expand access to the program for children from low-income families and scrap a controversial system for testing 4-year-olds.
The Virginia Preschool Initiative helps children prepare for kindergarten, but it is underused -- perhaps because of its cost. Although the initiative has more than 5,000 vacancies, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has proposed spending an additional $75 million to expand the program.
Kindergarten math skills are the biggest predictor of future academic achievement - more so than reading readiness or even being able to pay attention, says a groundbreaking study involving Canadian researchers and data.
While many young children stay home with a parent or sitter until they start kindergarten at the age of 5, a growing number are entering preschool earlier. Statistics set to be released this week by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University show that in 2005, 69 percent of 4-year-olds attended preschool, up from 59 percent in 1991; among 3-year-olds, that number has grown to 43 percent and, for 2-year-olds, to 29 percent.
Many legislators and educators across Massachusetts are joined in the belief that universal pre-kindergarten could yield benefits for the state's children. But a major question looms: where will the money come from to pay for it?
Fewer than 2 percent of Minnesota's 4-year-olds were in pre-K programs last year. That number will have to dramatically increase if the state hopes to boost the number of young people attaining a college degree by 2020, said researchers and analysts gathered at a forum Monday.
Educators and researchers are nearly unanimous in agreeing that a high-quality pre-school program gives children a better chance to succeed. That's why most forward-looking people endorse publicly funded pre-kindergarten classes for at-risk 4-year-olds.
Educators say pre-K is vital to prepare kids emotionally, socially, physically and cognitively for kindergarten, which can lay a foundation for success in later grades. Children who have some type of early education generally do better in kindergarten than those who don't.
As part of a state aid bill sitting before the governor, there's a $100 increase proposed for every pupil enrolled in the Michigan School Readiness Program, a preschool project designed for 4-year-olds who might be at risk of school failure. While the entire amount being allocated to the program is increasing slightly, it is capped at $4 million. Because of that limit and because more school districts are applying for the preschool program, thousands of children already enrolled are expected to lose their slots.
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.