Early Education in the News
Despite tough economic times, Virginia has taken a strong interest in maintaining its programs for early-childhood education, according to a member of the Virginia Board of Education.
We believe the district must seriously consider the desirability of reallocating available state and federal funds and taking advantage of additional funding sources, such as the generosity of a community that is committed to expanding opportunities for disadvantaged children, to provide the type of early education that can foster long-term success for our lower-income children. Not only would such a program help to equalize opportunities, but evidence suggests it would lead to a reduction in expenditures on special education and academic intervention and support.
Nevertheless, getting the pre-K students ready for kindergarten and first grade, it would seem, satisfies a major objective of the program, and that is what the report found. The program was not designed to create super students who would show up their peers for the next dozen years but to put disadvantaged students on a par with those who were tutored at home or attended private preschool programs.
The state of Montana is gearing up to roll out a program next year that would take the guesswork out of finding top-notch early childhood programs. Called STARS to Quality, the voluntary program would rate early childhood programs, either centers or in-home providers. Programs would be evaluated based on early childhood education research.
It is well known that many preschool parents have become super-anxious trying to give their kids a leg up on kindergarten, but I didn't realize just how nutty things had become until I talked to several dozen preschool program directors. The preschool directors wanted to discuss the worsening anxiety they see in parents who recognize that children are being required to read and write in kindergarten and want to make sure little Johnny and Joanie stay on track -- whether or not they are developmentally ready (and lots aren't).
Today, more than 50,000 kids are in these programs, most of them in the poorest urban districts. Class size is limited to 15, and teachers must be college graduates with special training in the workings of the young mind and how it learns.
Sherri Killins, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care, told a group of legislators at the Statehouse Thursday only 15 percent of children who apply for subsidies for early education or after-school programs receive state aid. There are 22,774 children on the waiting list, according to Killins, who estimated the cost for subsidizing tuition for all of the children at $214 million.
According to a new study, the state could save millions of dollars in prison costs by getting more children in preschool. The study also found that 28 percent of kids who did attend preschool were sent to jail in their lives while 52 percent of those who didn't attend preschool went to jail.
There are currently a variety of options for delivering high-quality early learning opportunities to Massachusetts' children. This "mixed delivery system" is comprised of community-based child care centers, public preschool programs, after-school and out-of-school-time programs, family child care homes, Head Start programs, and child care provided by families, friends, and neighbors.
Gov. Rick Perry recently named his appointees to the newly formed Texas State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care, a new council mandated by the federal Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007. The council will direct spending on a pending $11.3 million federal stimulus grant and work towards developing a comprehensive system of early childhood education and care that ensures coordination and collaboration among early childhood programs throughout Texas.
Proponents of early childhood education in Missouri got a boost Monday when a Nobel Prize-winning economist made a lucrative pitch to some 40 business leaders at the St. Louis Federal Reserve. The message: Spend money educating children before their fifth birthday and the financial return in building a future work force will be enormous.
A new report shows the effectiveness of Tennessee's pre-kindergarten program diminishes after the second grade, but supporters say it still provides a valuable foundation that will help at-risk children succeed. The report commissioned by the state comptroller's office late last week reveals kindergarten students who participated in the pre-K program performed better academically than a group of those who didn't.
The total cost of the program was $15,166 per child (adjusted for inflation from 1962 dollars to 2000 dollars). The return to society on that initial investment was $244,812 per child. Preschool is a "social program from which everybody wins," says economist Steven Barnett, director of the Institute for Early Education Research.
If Illinois pre-K administrators and educators are given the same budget they received last year — which amounted to a 10 percent reduction from the previous year — cuts would have to be made across the state. More than 9,500 3- and 4-year olds could go without pre-kindergarten.
[South Dakota state Sen. Tom] Dempster and a committee have been working to draft a bill that would not ask for an appropriation this year; it would simply set up a structure for preschool standards that would at least enable the state to start receiving federal money designated for such programs.
The state's fiscal crisis is striking some of its most vulnerable residents -- 4-year-olds whose private, nonprofit preschool programs are losing state funding. A 50% cut in grants, part of the school aid budget that became official last week, means more than 20 programs won't get their funding renewed and 2,000 slots will be lost.
According to a report released Monday by Nielsen, a TV ratings organization, the amount of television kids watch has reached an eightyear high, with children ages 2 to 5 watching more than 32 hours a week and those ages 6 to 11 watching more than 28 hours. The study was based on children's consumption of live TV, recorded TV programs and game-console use.
Child experts say that's just too much television.
Oregon's Legislature was among 13 state legislatures that increased spending on prekindergaten education, the Pew Center reports this month in an annual report on legislative action affecting prekindergarten. The Oregon Legislature in 2007 put an additional $37 million into Oregon Head Start, nearly doubling the number of 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families served by the state to 6,550.
New Jersey was poised to expand this preschool program to even more children when the recession devastated state revenues. Whoever occupies the governor's mansion next year needs to appreciate the value of this resource and build on it by making New Jersey's highly effective early education programs available to children who need them in school districts across the state.
Across the Columbus school district, tests given each fall show that more than three of every four kindergarten students aren't ready to learn. This is a particularly difficult challenge for two reasons: Preparing small children for school isn't usually the responsibility of a K-12 school district, but it still must spend time and money to help kids catch up.