- A new report from the Learning Policy Institute, “The Road to High-Quality Early Learning: Lessons from the States,” highlights the particularly good work being done in early childhood in Michigan, West Virginia, Washington and North Carolina.
- NPR reports highlighted programs in each state cap class sizes at 18-20 students with one teacher for every 8-10 children and relatively high expectations for the teaching credentials of those who lead the classes.
- All four of the highlighted programs require family engagement through parent-teacher conferences or parent volunteering, and while most are open only or primarily to students from low-income families, West Virginia’s WV Pre-K is open to all four-year-olds in the state.
Educators and policymakers have come to realize the importance of early childhood education. Research shows the incredible brain development that happens from birth to age 3, and schools have struggled to find ways to start developing language, literacy and math skills in children before they show up to kindergarten. Chicago is one city that has pledged to make preschool available for all students. The expansion, however, has been criticized for making preschool available, but not high-quality programs.
One major barrier to improving preschool education is the average pay for early childhood teachers. A recent federal study found the median pay for preschool teachers is only $28,570 per year while the median pay for kindergarten teachers is more than $51,000. Though there has been a recognition of the importance of early childhood, the will to do what is necessary to actually improve programs is lagging.