Early Education in the News
Children who attend preschool for two years are twice as likely as children with no preschool experience to have the language, literacy and math skills needed to be ready for kindergarten, a state study to be released Monday says. The aim [of the study] was to determine how many children in the state's poorest school districts entered kindergarten with the necessary skills.
About 40,000 3- and 4-year-olds are in the programs this year, costing the state about $400 million.
PNC Financial Services Corp. made a pledge last fall to invest a jaw-dropping $100 million in early childhood education over the next 10 years. In the first phase of the project, a dozen early childhood education programs in five states, including two Head Start programs in Pittsburgh, will share $503,000 in grants this year for programs that help children enter school ready to learn.
Most of the benchmark studies -- including the Perry Preschool and another classic, gold-standard study called the Carolina Abecedarian Project -- have included only poor children. W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, a New Jersey think tank, said that while the research does show greater preschool benefits for poor children, studies indicate that better-off children benefit as well.
Gov. Jeb Bush said Monday the House blueprint for Florida's new pre-kindergarten program falls short of his requirements. Last week, a House committee approved a pre-K bill that would give parents a scholarship, or voucher, they could use to pay for a three-hour-a-day or a summer program at private, public or religious schools or a book- or computer-based program for teaching children at home.
Constructing a system of quality care and education for Hawai'i's young children is our state's next great educational challenge. True, the obstacles are often daunting; parents lack affordable options, and preschools struggle to hire and retain degreed teachers who make $10 to $12 an hour.
The proposal passed by the Florida House of Representatives does not set teacher qualifications or require school accreditation.
Voices for Illinois Children, a child advocacy group, released its 12th annual Illinois Kids Count survey results.
Surveys by Hennepin and Ramsey counties show that parents who lost subsidies are resorting to inferior sources of child care, sometimes merely leaving children with older siblings. A new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University suggests that Minnesota doesn't even finish in the top 20 states when it comes to early-childhood education.
The state's Pre-Plus program, which provides preschool education for low-income children, is being scaled back because the cost to bring the classroom buildings up to code has eaten away the budget needed to complete the project.
Education research makes a powerful point about young children: The earlier they begin to learn, the better chance they have in life. That was the driving force behind a 2002 constitutional amendment to require prekindergarten classes in Florida and the reason a task force led by Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings concluded that those classes must be small and led by qualified teachers.
More than 100 children in Morris County's Head Start, along with nearly a half-million 4- and 5-year-olds nationwide, are getting an early taste of standardized testing before entering kindergarten. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, said the biggest flaw in the testing plan is that there is no way to compare what would happen if these children did not attend Head Start.
Implemented two years ago, the Tools of the Mind educational program has been nurturing pre-kindergartners' self-regulation and social skills through specially designed activities. The basis of the curriculum is to instill self-regulation by teaching the importance of planning ahead and remembering routines, all the while controlling emotions and physical actions, said Danielle Erickson, a Tools of the Mind resource coordinator who taught the program in Colorado before coming to Passaic.
Families in New Jersey's special-needs school districts would be asked to pick up some of the tab for extended preschool services, under a plan included in Gov. James E. McGreevey's proposed $26.3 billion state budget. The proposal, designed to save the state $17.1 million, would institute new co-payments for the 30,000 3- and 4-year-olds signed up for day care services in conjunction with court-ordered preschool in the 30 needy districts.
The Early Education and Care Council, comprised of the commissioners of the state departments of education and public health, and the Office of Child Care Services, last week released a 15-page report outlining six recommendations for improving the state's education system for 3- and 4-year-olds. The report calls for the creation of an oversight board to improve the coordination of services and communications between state officials, as well as more on-site technical assistance, and professional development for preschool instructors.
Left empty-handed by the Indiana legislature, Gov. Joe Kernan now is pursuing his goal of establishing full-day kindergarten and other early childhood education programs through a commission. Kernan said Tuesday he will create by executive order the Early Learning and School Readiness Commission.
Florida is gearing up to launch the free, pre-kindergarten program voters demanded two years ago. But its previous effort to improve youngsters' "school readiness" -- kicked off in 1999 with great fanfare -- has faltered so badly that Gov. Jeb Bush now wants to scrap it.
Gov. Granholm's proposed 2005 budget does not increase spending on every education program, but one winner is clearly preschool aid. While the shift in priorities is bound to raise questions, it is a smart move in the long term.
But in 21st century India, where spaces at even ordinary preschools are far fewer than the demand, Mr. Gupta was shocked to learn that his daughter - then a 3 year old - would have to take an exam to get into a neighborhood preschool. He was even more shocked to find that many parents were sending their children to rigorous cram schools.
Arizona lags behind most other states in funding, access and standards for early childhood education at a time when more children than ever are enrolling in preschool, two new studies show.