The state of preschool education is dire

10 Apr

In Early learning standards and the K-12 contiuum moi said:

Preschool is a portal to the continuum of life long learning. A good preschool stimulates the learning process and prompts the child into asking questions about their world and environment. Baby Center offers advice about how to find a good preschool and general advice to expectant parents. At the core of why education is important is the goal of equipping every child with the knowledge and skills to pursue THEIR dream, whatever that dream is. Christine Armario and Dorie Turner are reporting in the AP article, AP News Break: Nearly 1 in 4 Fails Military Exam which appeared in the Seattle Times:

Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit.

The National Institute for Early Childhood Research has released its 2011 report, Pre-K Spending Per Child Drops to Levels of Nearly a Decade Ago:

Low Quality of Many State Preschool Programs Threatens Nation’s Progress

Washington, D.C. — Funding for state pre-K programs has plummeted by more than $700 per child nationwide over the past decade — keeping the quality of many states’ preschools low even as enrollment has grown, a new report from the National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) shows.

Parents would be outraged if we had such low expectations for the first grade or kindergarten,” said Steve Barnett, the longtime director of NIEER, a nonpartisan center at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. “As economic conditions improve, states need to provide more adequate funding, step up quality, and make pre-K available to all children.”

The State of Preschool 2011 Yearbook ranks states on funding of pre-K programs and their availability to children. The report finds that most states fail to adequately fund their programs, and only five meet NIEER’s 10 benchmarks for preschool quality standards. Only seven states require pre-K teachers to have the same level of preparation and pay as kindergarten teachers, the report explains. 

High-quality early learning is arguably the greatest investments we can make, which is why our Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge supports states committed to providing this important opportunity to more children,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Raising the quality of early learning and expanding access to effective programs plays a pivotal role in improving our children’s chances at being successful in grade school through to college and careers. It’s the kind of investment that benefits us all.”

The Yearbook findings, which include NIEER’s data over the past 10 years and recommendations for policymakers, were released at 10 a.m. today at Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

Though enrollment in state pre-K programs has soared over the past 10 years, just 28 percent of all 4-year-olds and only 4 percent of all 3-year-olds are enrolled. Many states expanded enrollment without maintaining quality, Barnett said.

Pre-K funding has dropped by $715 per student, when adjusted for inflation, between the 2001-2002 and 2010-2011 school years. Per-student funding dropped by $145 in 2010-2011 alone compared with the previous year.

Overall funding for state pre-K programs, when adjusted for inflation, dipped for the second straight year, by $60 million nationally in 2010-2011.

The falling levels of funding for preschool are having a major impact on program quality. Only five states met all 10 NIEER benchmarks for state quality standards in 2010-2011, the new report shows. Fifteen states met eight or more quality standards. These standards include important basics such as having well-trained teachers and monitoring quality.

Some states are making progress, while others have taken steps back. Maine, Kentucky, and Nebraska all raised per-child and total pre-K funding by more than 5 percent over the previous year. In addition, five states — Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, West Virginia, and Wisconsin — increased total funding by more than 5 percent from the previous year.

Twenty-two states increased pre-K enrollment, ranging from small gains in California, Connecticut, Georgia, and Minnesota to 24 percent in Vermont.

But Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Pennsylvania cut total state pre-K spending by 10 percent or more from the previous year.

Nine states cut pre-K enrollment, from 1 percent in Kentucky, Nebraska, and North Carolina, to 12 percent in New Mexico. Arizona entirely eliminated its program. Counting Arizona, 11 states do not offer pre-K: Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

In 2010-11, two states gained benchmarks on NIEER’s quality standards, New York and Georgia. Four states — California, Kansas, New York, and South Carolina — lost benchmarks, all for reducing program monitoring.

In addition, several battleground states face additional threats to pre-K programs in 2012:

  • California cut spending per child by 10 percent for 2010-2011. The state’s program, which achieves only three of NIEER’s 10 benchmarks for quality, is under threat of further budget reductions.
  • Florida ranks first in the nation in pre-K access, with 76 percent of all 4-year-olds attending. But it ranks near the bottom in program quality and spending per child. It has repeatedly cut funding and has not raised per-child spending to adequate levels. Class sizes have been raised, and more funding cuts may be ahead.
  • Georgia, the first state to adopt a goal of state pre-K for all children, and which met all 10 NIEER quality standards in 2010-2011, subsequently cut its pre-K school calendar from 10 months to nine, reduced teacher salaries, and increased maximum class sizes to 22 children. Experienced teachers fled the program. Bringing quality back will require a new revenue source because lottery proceeds are no longer sufficient.
  • Illinois launched its Preschool for All program in 2006 with the goal of achieving universal access by 2012. Instead, it has cut total enrollment and has seen no appreciable funding increase.
  • Massachusetts has cut per-child funding by about 45 percent from 2001-2002 levels and operates two new programs using federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds that will go away. Without new funding, these programs are threatened.
  • North Carolina moved its well-regarded More at Four program from the Department of Public Instruction to Health and Human Services to align it with child care, renamed it, and reduced staff and enrollment. The program faces additional possible cuts.
  • Texas, which ranks in the bottom half of states for spending per child, reduced spending per child in 2010-2011 and faces the prospect of further cuts.

Barnett praised the federal $500 million Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge that is providing grants to nine states for improving quality, but said more needs to be done. President Obama has called on Congress to increase the federal commitment to states for early childhood education.

The National Institute for Early Education Research (, a unit of the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, supports early childhood education policy by providing objective, nonpartisan information based on research.

Go to 2011 Yearbook Homepage

View Full Report PDF
Full Report (PDF)

View Executive Summary
Executive Summary (PDF)

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

State DataState





See, Study Points to Drop in Per-Pupil Spending for Pre-K

Moi is using “preschool” to mean the same thing as “nursery school,” the schooling for children around three and four years of age. Professionals sometimes use the term “early childhood education” to mean the same thing.

There is an important distinction, however, between preschool and child care. Child care refers to the day-to-day, routine care of children from birth to three years, and to those parts of an older child’s day in which the primary focus is not on education. Preschool, on the other hand, refers to the portion of the day in which the main goal is developmentally appropriate education. (This isn’t to say that there isn’t some overlap, of course. A lot of what goes on in a preschool classroom involves taking care of a child’s physical and emotional needs, and a lot of what goes on in a good child-care setting is, in fact, educational.)

Kayla Webley has written an excellent report in Time magazine about Pew Charitable Trusts’ findings on a studies of preschool. In Rethinking Pre-K:5 Ways to Fix Preschool

Our goals should be: A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

Think small, Not small minded ©

Money spent on early childhood programs is akin to yeast for bread. The whole society will rise.


Why Preschool Matters?

Why Preschool is Important?

The Benefits of Preschool

Will Preschool Education Make a Child Ready for Kindergarten

Preschool, Why it is the Most Important Grade

National Conference of State Legislatures Resources on Kindergarten

Education Commission of the States, Full Day Kindergarten: A Study of State Policies in the United States

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

5 Responses to “The state of preschool education is dire”


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