Early Education in the News
Montana is one of three states that has received a $50,000 grant from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices to develop programs to help make sure children are ready for school. Gov. Brian Schweitzer said the money would be used in Montana to start an early childhood education program he's calling "Best Beginnings."
Denver Public Schools leaders on Wednesday unveiled a policy for teaching English to children who are native Spanish speakers, creating the district's first guidelines for the instruction of more than 20 percent of its students. The new language allocation policy recommends the number of minutes per school day that students are to be taught in their native language and in English, starting with 30 minutes of English daily for those in half-day preschool and kindergarten classrooms.
The vast majority of child care providers are older women, but the number of Latinas who care for younger children is nearly twice that who teach K-12 students. Many workers leave the early care and education field because of notoriously low pay: often $9 to $11 an hour -- what many parking lot attendants earn.
Kindergarten teachers have long said they see huge differences between students who have attended preschool and those who haven't. The preschool kids are already ahead on the first day of school, teachers say.
While most of Montana's children are reveling in the last half of summer vacation, their teachers and education leaders are considering whether to begin school at age 3. They're feeling pressure from a national movement promoting pre-kindergarten as a cost-effective way of boosting academic and social performance in later years.
Despite the clear connection between early experience and success in school, there has been an almost complete separation between the early-care community and school systems, on both the state and local level, across the country. Last month, Maryland became the first (and so far, only) state to overcome this divide.
Four years after voters overwhelmingly approved "high-quality" pre-kindergarten classes for the state's children, Floridians are left with a litany of half measures adding up to one unfulfilled promise. Now, when it comes to evaluating how well the program is working, the state DOE offers another half-measure.
The Denver City Council voted 11-1 Monday night to initially approve placing Mayor John Hickenlooper's proposed sales tax hike that would help preschools on the Nov. 7 ballot. The sales tax would raise about $12 million annually that would fund preschool tuition credits for the families of 4-year-olds.
The state of Tennessee is providing $20 million to launch 227 new pre-K classes, which are aimed at giving a head start in school to disadvantaged 4-year-olds. There is so much more needed as Tennessee tries to catch up with other states, but at least the Volunteer State is heading in the right direction.
As the Star-Bulletin's Dan Martin reports, a 2004 law directs schools to assess, then place children in junior kindergarten or kindergarten, based on ability. [Junior kindergarten] gets younger children into schools while providing the additional assistance some might need.
Belinda Rodriguez and her son, Drak Fernandez, came to the United States from Puerto Rico seven months ago to have a better life, but they still have problems. Drak, a 3-year-old with a persistent smile, is autistic — driving a wedge into the language barrier between Spanish and English because he barely speaks at all.
Districts [are] given flexibility in spending money for at-risk, preschool at-risk and bilingual students, as long as the expenditures are properly reported. Districts may use at-risk funds to provide all-day kindergarten, but they may charge a fee to parents for costs of the program.
In a bid to become the first state to offer free preschool for anyone who wants, Gov. Blagojevich Tuesday signed his historic "Preschool for All" program into law. Previously, only low-income students or kids otherwise academically "at risk" were eligible.
The single biggest gripe ... focuses on the lack of a pretest. Without one, it's impossible to determine which preschools helped children make gains and which enrolled students who already were prepared for kindergarten.
These children aren't just playing. They are preparing to learn by using their muscles to fine-tune their senses and motor skills.
Many preschools and Head Start programs operate for three to four hours a day, but recent studies have shown an all-day, high-quality preschool can help at-risk children better prepare for school. Children in extended-day preschool outperform children in half-day programs in literacy and mathematics, according to the National Institute of Early Education Research at Rutgers University.
Childcare workers in the state earn an average of $8.88 per hour or about $18,500 per year.
Gov. Phil Bredesen and department officials announced 227 new pre-K classes to serve 5,000 additional 4-year-olds statewide, bringing the total to 672 classes serving 13,500.
A strong body of research shows that well-run preschools can help at-risk kids, experts said Monday. "It's not so difficult to do, but you have to do it right," said Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, headquartered at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Leaders in government, business and philanthropy today will announce a new partnership aimed at preparing the state's youngest children for success in school.