Early Education in the News
Ellen Frede, co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, said that larger gains would come as Abbott districts built on their strong preschool programs. In a 2005 report based on testing in the 15 largest Abbotts, her group found that students were better prepared for kindergarten. "The overwhelming data is this is a good use of state taxpayer money," she said.
The National Center for Education Statistics has reported that full-day kindergarten enrollment rose from 28 percent of the country's children in 1977 to 68 percent in 2004 and is still growing. The needs of parents play a part as well, especially in households where full-time workers juggle young children's half-day schedules.
Gov. Haley Barbour says Mississippi can't afford a full-scale, publicly funded preschool anytime soon, but he'll include $1 million in his budget to develop an experimental program to help the parents of young children. The governor also told an audience of about 50 child-care providers and educators at the Mississippi Telecommunications and Conference Center that he wants to see more educational content in the Head Start program, which helps children from low-income families.
W. Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, says that a good program requires a certain amount of money, though it isn't always the case that high costs equal high quality. State-funded preschools for underprivileged children cost $12,000 per child per school year, according to Ellen Frede, the co-director of NIEER and the former director of the state Office of Early Childhood Education.
Children who turn 5 even in June or earlier are sometimes considered not ready for kindergarten these days, as parents harbor an almost Darwinian desire to ensure that their own child is not the runt of the class. Yet research on whether the extra year helps is inconclusive.
Large tutoring companies that have long helped high school students prepare for the SATs are now helping three- to six-year-olds prepare for kindergarten. There are no studies on the effects of private tutoring for young children, and many education experts believe parents can do just as good a job.
Vermont's publicly funded preschool programs are slowly growing. For years such programs were largely limited to youngsters who have disabilities, live in poverty or qualify as English language learners. During the past four years, however, some public school districts have broadened their programs beyond at-risk children.
Only two months into the current school year, 97,000 children are in the program administered by the Agency for Workforce Innovation. That's more than the entire past school year - August 2005 through June 2006 - when 96,295 children participated, also 44 percent of then-eligible children, said agency spokesman Warren May.
The first opportunity for extra investment in education comes when children are young. That's when they are most malleable and when poor children start to fall behind: Even at age 3, researchers find class-based differences in linguistic and emotional maturity.
But let's not hesitate any longer as a state to make a serious commitment to free, universal preschool. Funding needs to be predictable and expanded.
For a long time, [Montana Gov. Brian] Schweitzer believed the best way to address the increasing demand for skilled workers was to increase funding for higher education and, particularly for two-year programs, to help rapidly turn out a work force ready to meet shifting employment needs. But at the most recent Western Governors Conference, four world-renowned education specialists changed his mind.
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Children with severe reading problems usually struggle for years before getting the help they need. But a growing number of neurologists and educators say that with the latest diagnostic tests, children at high risk for these problems can be identified in preschool and treated before they ever begin to read.
We agreed to participate in Seniors4Kids, an initiative of Generations United and the Children's Campaign of Florida, because the intergenerational approach to this issue is such a natural fit: Older adults have an economic interest in the productivity of current and future workers; quality pre-K promotes successful, healthy families for generations to come; seniors thrive when involved in meaningful relationships with children; and older adults are an untapped resource to help communities address issues like quality pre-K.
Mayor John Hickenlooper is asking Denver residents to vote yes on Measure 1A, a ballot initiative that would increase the city sales tax by .12 percent - that's a mere 12 cents for every hundred dollars spent - to help pay for pre-K programs for all Denver 4-year-olds. A report released this year by the National Institute for Early Education Research found [positive] results in three longitudinal studies conducted in Chapel Hill, N.C.; Chicago; and Ypsilanti, Mich.
"Start Strong" is an initiative to expand classes for 4-year-olds throughout the state. But the project is still very much in the development phase, education officials say.
The human brain develops more rapidly between birth and age 5 than during any other period in human life. And research, such as the Abecedarian Project and the Chicago Child-Parent Center Longitudinal Study, show that children who are exposed to nurturing and stimulating environments early will perform better in elementary and secondary schools.
Educators, business leaders and parents called for Alaska to create a preschool system that will get young children excited about learning. Only about half of Alaska's children show up to kindergarten prepared to go to school, said representatives of the Ready to Read, Ready to Learn Task Force.
Through business initiative, Wisconsin could lead the nation in making early childhood education a top policy priority, a range of speakers said at an economic summit in Milwaukee on Monday. Citing early education as the best investment for building a better work force and preventing a bevy of social problems, speakers said businesses need to lead the charge for expanding learning opportunities for children younger than 5.
Growing academic demands - including batteries of standardized tests as early as third grade - have parents feeling pressure to help their kids get off to a faster start, and experts in early childhood development calling for balance.
The state Board of Education unanimously approved instructional guidelines for state-funded preschool programs on Wednesday. The regulations would set standards for the first time for public school programs enrolling children between 3 and 5 years old, such as a minimum 2 1/2-hour school day and a maximum class size of 20 students.