Early Education in the News
A new study finds that Spanish-speaking preschoolers are better adjusted in class when their teachers speak at least some Spanish, compared to children whose teachers speak only English. The key finding of the study, by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC Chapel Hill, tends of refute conventional wisdom that English-only pre-kindergarten programs help close achievement gaps among children from different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
Nearly half the state's 4-year-olds have enrolled in Florida's free preschool - an effort that at once impresses and worries those in the field of educating young children.
While Indiana and its Legislature debate whether or not to fund statewide full-day kindergarten, other states, recognizing that early childhood education is a powerful learning tool, are wisely looking at strengthening prekindergarten education.
Most parents can readily attest that earlier is better when it comes to helping children. Indeed, the oft-repeated parenting maxim "Get them while they’re young" is not just homespun wisdom but a consistent finding of social scientists who study government programs for disadvantaged youths. One of the best investments government can make to raise academic achievement and reduce welfare dependency and crime is the provision of quality preschool programs.
Alabama's state-funded pre-kindergarten program is a classic good news, bad news story. The good news is that Alabama has one of the top quality programs in the nation. The bad news is that it reaches only 2 percent of the children who might need it.
Nationwide, children typically enter school at around age 5, when they're ready for kindergarten. But research highlighting the importance of early learning is prompting more and more states to add pre-kindergarten programs.
Oklahoma is highlighted as "A Pre-K Leader" and given nearly perfect marks for its state-funded prekindergarten program in a report being released Wednesday by the National Institute for Early Education Research. About 70 percent of Oklahoma's 4-year-olds are enrolled in a state-funded program. When adding enrollments of 4-year-olds in Head Start and special-education programs, about 90 percent are in some type of education program, the report states.
North Carolina is one of only two states whose prekindergarten programs met all benchmarks for quality cited in a report from an early childhood education policy institute. The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University highlighted the More at Four program and another initiative in Alabama as the only state-funded prekindergarten programs that reached all 10 benchmarks in 2006.
As all-day kindergarten grows in popularity, some districts are asking parents to pay for the extra costs of the longer program. Pay programs have critics, but proponents say charging is one of the best ways for districts to provide full-day programs in states like Kansas and Indiana, which only pay for half-day programs.
The science is conclusive: Children that participate in high-quality early education programs are more likely to graduate high school, go on to college, and maintain meaningful employment. A recent five-state study conducted by the National Institute for Early Education Research found substantial early language, math and reading gains among children who received state-funded Pre-K education at age 4.
[Gov. Rick] Perry has proposed an additional $80 million over the next two years for early childhood programs that adhere to the Texas Early Education Model, which [Brooke] Jones and [Rachel] Brace use at the Children's Courtyard. The model encourages the state's three main government-funded providers of pre-kindergarten — public schools, Head Start and child care centers that accept federal welfare-to-work vouchers — to share teachers, facilities and ideas.
Using an idea that's catching on throughout the state, the [Menomonee Falls School District] plans to partner with local preschool and child care centers to give 4-year-olds a half-day program that proponents say will give them an educational boost for years to come. Almost every Wisconsin school district looking to add a new 4-year-old kindergarten program is considering such a collaborative approach, said Jill Haglund, an early-childhood education consultant for the state Department of Public Instruction who estimated that the partnerships exist in about 50 school systems.
Oversight and regulation of child-care centers in many states are disturbingly low, according to a study released yesterday that ranked the Defense Department well above any state for its child-care standards and Maryland fourth in the nation. The findings add weight to a series of similar reports released over the past year, said Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.
Pennsylvania's top education official on Thursday defended a proposed expansion of an education-grant program that would have the state spend $100 million more on preschool and full-day kindergarten. Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak told the House Appropriations Committee that boosting the state's three-year-old accountability block grant program was crucial to ensuring that thousands more youngsters are prepared to succeed academically in school - one of Gov. Ed Rendell's top priorities.
A growing number of West Virginia children are being enrolled in prekindergarten programs, and experts stress that an early start on education can be a big boost to a child's success in school. West Virginia has an improving track record on pre-school preparation, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.
State law enforcement officials want increased funding for an early childhood education program. Head Start provides preschool education to low-income families. Law enforcement wants more federal money for the federal program because children who attend are less likely to cross their paths later in life.
Critics say proposed new standards for preschools are evidence of lawmakers trying to seize control of families and threatening to drive up already expensive early childhood education programs. Proponents say the standards issue is a simple one of encouraging better education for young children.
When school started in August, more Florida kindergartners were prepared to tackle reading than had been ready in previous years, the state's annual early-literacy screening shows. That makes educators hopeful that the state's new pre-kindergarten program is making a difference.
Expanding preschool access to Iowa children has been a widely debated issue during the current legislative session. Iowa lawmakers are weighing legislation to create high quality preschool for 4-year-olds. The bill proposes spending $15 million for three years and $16.2 million during the fourth year of the program.
Classroom space in California public preschools is at such a premium that 21% of eligible 4-year-olds would be unable to attend if they all attempted to enroll, according to a statewide study released Thursday. The survey, released by Advancement Project, a national public policy and civil rights advocacy organization, found that if California public schools were to provide universal preschool, there would not be enough room for 117,000, or 21%, of 4-year-olds.