In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama proposed “working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America.” He noted that, for poor kids, lack of access to pre-K programs can “shadow them for the rest of their lives.”
The return on investment for pre-K is evidenced in the work of economists including Nobel-prize winner James Heckman and Art Rolnick/Rob Grunewald, so perhaps it’s not surprising to see the federal government reexamine this issue.
PIE Network groups are already working hard to boost quality and expand access to pre-K. Here’s a look at what some of our members are doing, starting with the two states the President singled out as exemplars.
Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education
- In their Top Ten Issues to Watch in 2013, GPEE calls to invest in qualified and well-compensated teachers, expand scholarships, and bolster the state’s quality rating system.
- Other work from the Georgia Partnership includes their research, The Economics of Education, which illustrates that a healthy beginning helps children enter kindergarten prepared and helps lift them out of poverty.
Oklahoma Business & Education Coalition
- One way OBEC promotes high-quality pre-K is by helping businesses understand the economic imperative of investing early.
- OBEC also helps to support the Oklahoma School Readiness Risk Index (SRRI), so that policy and practice for vulnerable children are informed by data.
Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence (KY)
- The Prichard Committee was instrumental in the passage of the KIDS NOW legislation in 2000, which started a pre-K quality rating system and scholarships.
- The Prichard Committee also leads Strong Start KY, an initiative to expand eligibility so that high-quality preschool is available for every Kentucky child.
- Other early childhood education issues they work on include building better data systems, fostering collaboration between districts and other providers, and supporting home visiting services for low-income families.
- This session, Mississippi First is working to pass the Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013, which would for the first time put state money into a voluntary program for pre-kindergarten.
- The group also conducted a statewide survey to determine how/if districts use Title I funds for pre-K programs, and they published Leaving Last in Line, a plan to enact state-funded pre-K.
League of Education Voters (WA)
- LEV supported the creation of the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS), an annual inventory to assess Kindergarten readiness across the state.
- LEV is also working to expand access to the state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), as little more than half of eligible children are served, leaving behind 18,600 children.
- In Clearing a Path to Quality Pre-K, MinnCAN recommends expanding the quality rating system and partnering with the business community to expand investment in pre-K scholarships.
- This legislative session, MinnCAN is an active member of MinneMinds, a broad coalition supporting investment in early learning scholarships.
A+ Education Partnership (AL)
- A+Education Partnership works with the Alabama School Readiness Alliance (ASRA), which promotes the further development and expansion of voluntary, high quality pre-k programs.
- This coalition also works with communities to promote the adoption of First Class standards for existing pre-k programs.
- MarylandCAN published Fund Quality Pre-K for All, a report calling to expand preschool to all Maryland four-year-olds, as only 40% of the state’s nearly 73,000 four-year-olds are in pre-K programs.
- Advance Illinois partnered with the Kindergarten Readiness Stakeholder Committee to create the Illinois Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS). KIDS will help identify gaps in school readiness, guide classroom instruction, and provide information for supporting decision-making about resource allocations.
Stand for Children Texas
- This legislative session, Stand Texas is working to reinstate $225 million in funding for the Pre-K Early Start Grant Program.
- Stand also supports a School Readiness System to provide quality data to Pre-K programs.
Rodel Foundation of Delaware
- The Rodel Foundation helped write Vision 2015, a plan designed to provide a world-class education in Delaware which includes guidelines to invest in early childhood education.
- Vision 2015 includes expansion of the quality rating system, greater access to tuition scholarships, higher standards for educators, and better data systems.
Stand for Children Louisiana
- Stand Louisiana conducted a statewide survey of parents, grandparents, and guardians on their attitudes towards early childhood program.
- Based on the survey results, Stand recommends more program accountability, greater outreach to low-income communities, and expanded access to high-quality programs.
Stand for Children Washington
- In the last session, Stand Washington supported expansion of WaKIDS, and helped ensure that the state maintained funding for full-day kindergarten.