Early Education in the News
Changes to the popular Parents as Teachers program have been spurred by Missouri's budget troubles. The operating budget approved by lawmakers for the budget year starting July 1 cut more than $13 million from the early childhood education program.
Experts talk too often about poorly performing middle or high schools and dismiss elementary and preschool time as the "cute" years. But these are the years we should focus on.
Missouri senators have endorsed a plan that would merge the state's two education oversight boards into one responsible for education from kindergarten through doctoral programs.
But even as educators and others recognize the importance of focusing on early childhood enrichment, tight state and local budgets are making it tough to maintain current programs and start new ones.
Word play through rhyme, poetry, song and repetition is important because it reinforces the patterns and parts of word sounds. This is known as phonological awareness, which children need in order read.
With every letter and every activity, the goal of Voluntary Prekindergarten is to get children ready for elementary school at no cost to parents. But a new proposal to slash VPK funding could affect children and the quality of their education.
A first-ever study of childcare centers in Rhode Island shows that only 10 percent of preschool classrooms and 4 percent of infant-toddler rooms provide "high-quality" programs that nurture development through purposeful interactions between adults and youngsters.
Children enrolled in Los Angeles Universal Preschool programs made significant improvements in the social and emotional skills needed to do well in kindergarten, according to a study released Monday. The gains were especially pronounced for English language learners, the study showed.
Arkansas legislators have put off approval of proposed new, voluntary higher standards for day-care centers, with some citing higher costs that the facilities might have to pay if the standards are made mandatory. The proposed standards, called Better Beginnings, would classify centers as meeting one of three levels of advanced qualifications.
The stories show that many preschool children focus intently on the words they hear and that most are primarily dependent on parents for clarification. Preschool years can, in fact, be a "perfect storm," a short window of opportunity in which factors come together so parents can best provide the basis of language growth.
The governor's proposal would slash the state's early childhood education block grant by 16 percent, which means 6,000 students in Chicago public schools could be shut out of the Preschool for All program, which targets academically at-risk children. Though not mandatory, Preschool for All is hailed for giving 3- and 4-year-olds a jump-start with its 2 1/2 hours a day of free instruction.
Just like every other division in the Agency of Human Services, early child care is facing cuts as the state tries to balance its budget. Early child care advocates understand that money is tight in Montpelier this year, but this week they are reminding lawmakers and business leaders that dollars taken away from programs around the state trickle up into other parts of Vermont's economy.
Kindergarten readiness isn't strictly a matter of age, say the experts. Instead, it involves a combination of cognitive, emotional, social and physical factors that can affect a child's academic success.
Rather than looking for ways to extend the benefits of quality preschool to more impoverished children, lawmakers this year have been considering cuts in funding for licensed child care -- the places where a majority of Minnesota's low-income children receive their only exposure to preschool lessons.
The state may implement a new preschool rating system that would boost accountability, encourage higher quality programs and help parents make more informed decisions. A 13-member advisory committee aimed at improving early childhood learning programs in California is currently collecting data to create a fair, accurate scale that would hold preschools accountable and be understandable for parents.
Proposed cuts to early childhood programs have come as lawmakers grapple with how best to eliminate a budget shortfall in Kansas exceeding $400 million. Both House and Senate proposals for closing the budget gap include cuts for early childhood education.
Though the economic downturn has impacted the state's ability to grow its top rated pre-K program, teachers and advocates say they're not giving up. More than 100 pre-K teachers from all over Alabama rallied on the steps of the state Capitol on Wednesday and thousands more will converge on the city today for the fifth Alabama Pre-K Conference hosted by the state Department of Children's Affairs Office of School Readiness.
The proposal has a $9 billion price tag. But the benefits of expanding childhood education nationally would outweigh the costs, panelists told U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., at a Senate hearing at Morrisville High School Tuesday.
In a move that has escaped much public attention, the Oregon Legislature in its February special session came up with $1 million for the state's first spending on Early Head Start, a program to help prepare disadvantaged children under age 3 for school.
Duggan and Steven Barnett, co-director of NIEER, also said that because pre-kindergartners are not tested before they start the program, there's no way to tell how much they have improved throughout the year. A pre-VPK test would help determine whether VPK itself made the difference.