While President Obama is pushing for universal pre-K, Southern states–who have been ahead of the curve in offering state-run pre-school programs–are now reconsidering their value.
Demand for pre-K programming is growing across the South, but state-level fiscal challenges have limited the number of kids pre-K can serve. Southern Education Foundation President and CEO Kent McGuire examines the challenges pre-K funding faces across the nation, but especially in the deep South.
Most education researchers and even many economists think high-quality Pre-K benefits children and the communities where they live. But the effects are limited when programs just don’t reach many kids. Even in states such as Alabama, which have highly regarded programs, these services reach only a fraction of eligible children.
When it comes to making cuts to pre-K – where is the nation making the deepest cuts? This interactive map shows what pre-K funding looks like across the nation and recaps recent developments in the South.
Early childhood education is the teaching of children from birth up to age 8. Head Start, childcare, public and private preschools as well as traditional K-2 classrooms are all examples of early childhood education providers. Access and quality of early childhood education varies from institution to institution and from state to state.
When budgets are tight, states start to talk about cutting services. But what early education services does the South stand to lose when budgets get cut?
At first glance, research on preschool may appear conflicting. A Vanderbilt University shows preschool students are 80-percent better prepared for school than their peers – especially in literacy and math. But a recent study of Head Start finds by third grade, their lead has all but disappeared completely. How should this data be interpreted?
About one-third of Mississippi school districts have found ways to pay for pre-k without the state’s help, according to the public policy group Mississippi First.
Undeterred by adverse court rulings, the Louisiana Department of Education is forging ahead with overhauls approved by the state Legislature last spring – including a plan for funding pre-K programs.
Birmingham law enforcement officials are stressing the importance of early education. Police Captain Henry Irby and Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls recently visited the Festival Head Start center to spread an important message— invest more in kids. And officials believe this will in turn lead to less crime.