Early Education in the News
As our federal leaders look for the best possible investments to jump-start our economy, I have a suggestion that may surprise some people: Consider early learning programs. New research from the business leader group America's Edge shows investment in high-quality early learning is among the most effective ways to infuse millions of dollars into local and state economies, while creating new jobs in our communities and building a foundation for sustained economic security.
Pennsylvania has made attracting science, technology, engineering and math jobs to the commonwealth a key strategy for our economic health. If we really want a workforce that can fill these jobs, we need to continue our investment in quality early education programs such as Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, Keystone STARS, Child Care Works, Early Intervention, Nurse-Family Partnership, Head Start Supplemental and Parent-Child Home Program.
Gov. Dave Freudenthal has created a new state childhood advisory council to encourage better coordination and collaboration between public and private care and education programs and services to the state.
Despite unprecedented national recognition of the importance of early childhood education, efforts to expand programs remain hamstrung by limited funding and decades of conventional thinking about education timelines and structures, said state and national experts during a Thursday conference on the topic. The funding challenges for pre-K in Louisiana and across the country come at a time when scientists and economists have amassed more evidence than ever before on the value of early childhood programs.
The number of families receiving state subsidies to cover preschool tuition costs has dropped by about 10 percent after the state's decision to decrease the amount of help families can get, and providers say parents appear to instead be opting for cheaper, unlicensed care or leaving their children with relatives.
Groundbreaking preschool regulations have been tweaked to reflect Illinois' dire financial situation, but budget concerns still likely will stand in the way of getting the neediest students help, suburban educators say.
Some teachers in Westchester are silently making waves with an unusual teaching method: they're using sign language, although none of their pre-kindergarten students have hearing issues. The staff realized very quickly that, regardless of whether you're dealing with a typical four-year-old or a boy or girl who's developmentally challenged, they're all learning to communicate together – and sign language is just another tool in the arsenal to help them on their way.
Speakers at the region's first Economic Summit on Early Childhood Investments said that money spent on preschool education pays dividends in economic and work-force development.
Helping Hands day care provider Heidi McKeown watches four children whose parents are reimbursed from the state through North Coast Opportunities. But if the state Legislature approves the governor's May Revise or if no budget is signed by June 30, any services those parents receive through NCO or Rural Communities Child Care may end effective July 1, locally affecting 280 families and 502 children. Statewide, more than 200,000 children will lose their child care.
Studies show that 90 percent of brain growth occurs before a child enters kindergarten, highlighting the importance of funding education during that time of a child's life. Mississippi is one of only 11 states that does not provide direct funding to early childhood education.
While pre-kindergarten programs have been designed to help young student prepare for future education, officials say it can also do something something else help school districts save money, in fact one report showed over $800-million a year across New York State.
A coalition dedicated to expanding quality pre-kindergarten education for 4-year-olds in Alabama has found voters support spending more money on the effort -- regardless of party affiliation. Jan Hume, executive director of the alliance, said the results were a surprise to pollsters -- Alabama support for pre-kindergarten education remains as strong as it was four years ago, even in the face of high unemployment and a tepid economy.
Smart Beginnings Western Tidewater is one of 24 local or regional initiatives across the state supported by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. The foundation is working to build a comprehensive network of early care and education services, according to [Executive Director Ellen] Couch.
Data shows that students perform better in school after some early childhood education. Students are taught how to behave in school, basic skills, numbers, colors and precursors to reading during a year of pre-kindergarten.
Now imagine that you are a policymaker and you have been handed an early childhood development program that will reduce arrest rates for these children by half. Further, imagine that this program will improve the children's grades and help them become responsible citizens and productive employees, as well as positively influence the lives of the parents
Georgia's voluntary pre-kindergarten program started in 1993 with 750 students and now has some 81,068 students in public schools and private day care centers in all 159 counties. Waiting lists, however, are becoming more common, especially in the metro areas.
Preschool spending has climbed at a time when public schools have been forced to raise property taxes, lay off teachers and combine classes to deal with their most difficult budgets in years. Universal preschool is in addition to Head Start and other government-run preschool efforts that target low-income families.
Preschool children not only suffer with depression, their symptoms are often unnoticed and thus the condition goes undiagnosed. Recent findings on preschool depression indicate that it is not a temporary condition and that early detection is important.
These days most experts agree that the developing mind can easily handle the double input. And research is beginning to show that, in addition to the linguistic benefits, learning multiple languages might provide valuable mental exercise for kids that could have positive long-term effects.
For the second year in a row, North Carolina ranks among the nation's top two states for preschool education. The state tied Alabama for first, scoring a perfect 10. It's also the fifth time the state placed in the top 10.