Early Ed Roundup: Week of March 17 - March 21
A (Small) Boost for Head Start in Utah
State lawmakers in Salt Lake City approved a $100,000 allocation for the state’s Head Start, which will fund an expansion of the program to serve 14 more children. The Utah Head Start program served 5,500 children last year. The funding was far short of the original $700,000 that Head Start advocates sought, but it is a small victory in a state that does not have a state-funded pre-k program.
Quality vs. Quantity in Florida Pre-K Classrooms
Pre-k enrollment numbers are easy to tally, but pre-k expansion sometimes comes at the cost of pre-k quality. Consider Florida, where state Pre-k administrator Monesia Brown boasted that the state has the 2nd highest pre-k enrollment in the country (124,000 four-year olds) along with recent screening results that show improvements in the students’ literacy skills. Not so fast, responded Children's Campaign, Inc. president Roy Miller, arguing that the poor pay and qualifications of many Florida pre-k teachers undermine program quality and student learning--and that these pre-k quality is more important than size. Miller also noted that a shocking number of four-year-olds are being expelled from Florida's pre-k classrooms. The State Preschool Yearbook, a report released earlier this week by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), found that 21 out of 49 state pre-k programs, including Florida's, do not require pre-k teachers to have a B.A. degree.
Bill to Offer Pre-K for Military Kids
Children of members in the armed services are three times as likely to move during their school years, which also makes it difficult for parents to enroll them in quality pre-k programs. A bill introduced in the Maryland House by Del. Tom Hucker, a Montgomery County Democrat, would allow the state to offer its pre-k services to children of service members, in addition to the low-income students who currently qualify for the program. The proposal would not expand the existing state pre-k program, but the state hopes to have universal pre-k in place by 2014. Other states, including Kansas and Texas, have already expanded their pre-k eligibility requirements to include children of military families.