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Recent early education news and updates

In the News

Starting early

May 26, 2016
AccessEconomics and FinanceQuality and CurriculumUniversal and Targeted
Natalie Krebs

After some deal-making, CPS and Preschool Promise will ask voters to fund universal preschool

Cincinnati’s childhood poverty rate is among the worst in the country. But if voters approve, the Queen City could be the first to try an ambitious effort to alleviate some of the earliest obstacles that poverty creates and lift up the next generation. Proponents of the Preschool Promise initiative have been planning for two years to put a tax levy on the ballot that would make Cincinnati the first city in the country to guarantee two years of high-quality preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old. And earlier this year, Cincinnati Public Schools started making plans to put its own education levy on the ballot. After months of negotiating, the two officially teamed up this week, announcing a $48 million tax levy proposal that will go to the ballot box in November. That could be huge for the 47 percent of Cincinnati children younger than 6 who live in poverty. “This opportunity represents a commitment by all to quality equitable education and choice for children and families,” said CPS Board President Ericka Copeland-Dansby at a May 23 board meeting, where the joint levy was officially approved. “It has the potential to transform lives, strengthen neighborhoods and improve the economic vitality of our community. . .”

At the state level, Ohio has also been pouring more resources into preschool.For the 2016-17 school year, the state budget allocated $70 million to pay for preschool for 17,000 kids, more than triple what it funded when Gov. John Kasich took office in 2011. According to an annual report released this month by education nonprofit, National Institute for Early Education Research, less than 5 percent of the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in public preschool. The NIEER report ranks Ohio 36th in the country for preschool enrollment. The report’s rankings didn’t factor in the 34,000 Ohio children who are currently in quality-rated private programs. Ohio’s Department of Jobs and Family Services gave out $82 million last year to help private centers to improve programs, and $35 million of that went to programs with ratings of three stars or higher.