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Recent early education news and updates

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Expand pre-K for more kids


June 14, 2016
AccessEconomics and FinanceGovernance and AccountabilityState & Local
The Editorial Board
The Times-Tribune

For politicians, early childhood education is a case of a narrow window and a far horizon. In Pennsylvania, state legislators are too focused on that horizon. Abundant research on education and brain development shows that there is a relatively narrow window, between ages 3 and 5, in which to best establish a solid educational foundation in most kids — especially regarding language. Yet in Pennsylvania, only one in six of Pennsylvania’s 300,000 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs. According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, in 2015 Pennsylvania ranked 15th nationally in pre-K access for 3-year-olds, down from 11th in 2010, and 30th in access for 4-year-olds, down from 24th five years earlier. . .

A big part of the problem is that far horizon. Politicians often are reluctant to dedicate state funds to early childhood education because the results are not instantaneous. Unlike a rebuilt highway or bridge, the results are not immediately marketable and, therefore, not politically marketable. Results of increasing pre-K access don’t show up until the kids’ academic performance is assessed much later in their school careers.