Early Education in the News
It is not in the best interest of Georgia's families for the state to set an income cutoff that prevents children from participating in Georgia pre-k. Furthermore, repeating grades and dropping out of high school, two long-term impacts that quality preschool helps mitigate, are problems that impact all social classes.
In a year of declining state revenues and steep cuts to many programs, Gov. Jon S. Corzine will not be able to fulfill his wish to bring all-day preschool to nearly every public school district in the state. But with help from the federal stimulus package, he is proposing to expand the program into more districts in New Jersey, one of the few states in the country even considering a growth in preschool this year.
The changes, if approved, could jettison North Carolina's preschool program from one of the nation's best to among the worst, said Steve Barnett, co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. "When you take educators out of the picture, you're asking for disaster," said Barnett, who co-authored an annual report last week praising More at Four for its high level of quality.
Despite these challenging and politically contentious times, lieutenant governors from both parties and from every region of the country are in agreement about at least one investment that states cannot afford to sacrifice -- early education. Few investments these days offer a guaranteed return, but quality pre-kindergarten is one of them.
The evidence is powerful: Young children perform better, learn more and acquire skills that will carry them into adulthood when they move smoothly and seamlessly from home to child care to preschool to kindergarten. The current system, a hodgepodge of uncoordinated care and schooling doesn't effectively take advantage of children's key learning years, ages 3 to 8.
The $2 billion for child care in the federal economic stimulus package is supposed to help workers find a safe place for their children while they try to look for or hold onto increasingly scarce jobs. But if the spending plan that passed the state Senate last week becomes law, most of North Carolina's share of the money will go to replace part of the state funding for an existing program, More at Four.
Just this week, a preschool think tank called the National Institute for Early Education Research singled out More at Four for praise, naming North Carolina and Alabama as states with preschool programs that met all the group's criteria for quality, including teacher education, class size and curriculum. But the report, released Wednesday, came with a warning that North Carolina needed to spend more on More at Four or risk declines in quality.
Florida's voluntary prekindergarten program remains among the poorest nationally when rated on money spent and quality, says a national report card released Wednesday. With more parents taking advantage of the taxpayer-funded program, however, the state rates second for access in the annual Preschool Yearbook issued by the National Institute for Early Education Research.
The nation's top educator headed back to class Wednesday warning states against taking money from their youngest students. "We're not going to balance the budget on the backs of our young children. We just can't afford to do this," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Tennessee's state-funded pre-kindergarten initiative has once again been lauded as a national leader, a study released Wednesday said. The nearly perfect score — Tennessee missed one out of 10 accountability measures — was assigned by the National Institute for Early Education Research, a unit of the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Gov. Bob Riley is asking for $3 million more than the state budgeted last year for Alabama's First Class Voluntary Pre-K program. The additional $3 million still is not enough to adequately fund pre-kindergarten programs in Alabama, the governor said.
One of the most drastic expansions of public education in recent American history unfolded quietly in this decade, as dozens of states added free pre-kindergarten classes to their traditional kindergarten to high school offerings.
Daily playtimes are a centerpiece of the curriculum used in Ms. Randle's Head Start classroom, "Tools of the Mind" -- which incorporates training in "executive function," or the mental ability to control impulses and focus on new information, into children's routine.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The recession could spell trouble for the nation's youngest schoolchildren, despite positive trends in spending and enrollment for state pre-K programs, according to a report released Wednesday. At least nine states are likely to make cuts to pre-kindergarten programs including some of the biggest — California, Florida and New York, said Steve Barnett, one of the authors of the annual report on state-funded preschool.
Co-Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research Steve Barnett said preschool enrollment has increased by more than 108,000 children over the past two years, bringing the number of children aged 4 and under enrolled in state-funded preschool programs to 1.1 million. "When it comes to quality education like that, some states offer little more than babysitting and sometimes they are in states right next door," he said.
Expanding educational access and offering quality learning programs for children 5 and younger will take collaboration, dedicated funds and a plan with benchmarks according to educational officials participating in a universal preschool panel discussion yesterday. Maintaining consistent quality and access is complicated by the variety of programs offered through the state, explained E3 Institute Director Yolanda Garcia.
North Carolina leaders have for some time recognized the critical role of early education in improving the later lives of young children. High-quality early education programs reduce the need for later remedial services, increase completion rates of high school and higher education, lower the rate of "retention in grade" and generally help those children who participate to lead more productive lives. The General Assembly is considering changes in our services to young children that will undo years of progress that have led to improved school performance.
"Preschool gives the children a jump start," says Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, (D) Salem. That's why she and Rep. Rebekah Warren, (D) Ann Arbor, are pushing for universal preschool in Michigan.
Early intervention and preschool special education programs were created to solve problems for children before they enter the public school system. Successful early intervention can decrease school failure and crime and increase economic productivity, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.
Public schools in Ohio and across the nation need to do more to help youngsters make the move from preschool to kindergarten, according to a report released today by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Education Commission of the States.