Monday, June 11, 2012

Are Pre-K Programs About To Get Gutted?

Andy Rotherham with a warning that pre-K programs across the country may be gutted due to budget cuts:

When a little girl, who I'll call Tina, arrived in a pre-kindergarten program in Washington, D.C. she was unable to recognize any sounds or letters.  By the time she left for kindergarten she knew all her letters and more sounds than D.C.'s standards require. Now, six years later, Tina's teachers say she's "on a roll" in school.

There are plenty of legitimate debates about what works in education, but the importance of early-childhood education is not one of them. High-quality early-childhood programs help kids in school and in life. Why? Research shows that good programs can improve a variety of outcomes and University of Chicago economist and Nobel Laureate James Heckman points out that dollars invested early are higher leverage than later remediation. But it's also common sense. Tina's teachers say that until she learned behavioral and participatory skills she was simply unable to engage with and benefit from instruction at school. It's good for parents, too, because good programs teach them about how to be involved and advocate for their child's education.

So why aren't we ensuring that more students and families at-risk of school failure get this sort of support? A forthcoming report from the National Institute for Early Education Research being released next Tuesday takes a look at state spending on pre-kindergarten education. The data show two alarming trends. First, states continue to cut spending on early-childhood programs. Roughly two-thirds of the 39 states with early-childhood education programs cut spending in 2011. Those cuts come on the heels of reduced spending the last few years, and many states are planning on additional cutbacks in the next several years. At the same time states seem to be minimizing quality and increasing enrollment by supporting day care rather than educationally sound programs.


School of Thought

Are Pre-K Programs About To Get Gutted?

New cuts in early education spending are endangering young children and costing all of us

By Andrew J. Rotherham | @arotherham | April 5, 2012 | 1

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