Around the country, states are recognizing the importance of early education. Recent reports have demonstrated that children who attend preschool programs are less likely to need special education services or commit crimes later in life. Quality programs bring lower long-run costs for education, law enforcement and emergency services along with an increase to overall social welfare.
Oklahoma’s state preschool program began as a line-item in the budget during the 1990s. The program has since expanded and is now part of the state’s regular funding. To deal with the pressures of the recession, Oklahoma implemented a budget formula that balances local and state money. Although preschool is voluntary for both parents and schools, nearly 75% of four-year-olds are currently enrolled.
After finding that needy students were often left out of early education, officials in Maryland’s Montgomery County began using some of the district’s Title 1 money to extend half-day Head Start programs to full-day. According to Janine Bacquie, Director of the Division of Early Childhood Programs and Services, “Preschool is really the critical place where the successful school career begins.”
Meanwhile, educators in New Jersey have found that strong preschool programs can reduce grade repeats by 50%. The state currently supports programs for over 50,000 students.
These commitments to early education demonstrate both growing interest and dedication on a national level. They are encouraging signs for the future of education in our country, and the Ackerley Foundation is pleased to see these steps being taken.
Quotation and figures courtesy of Catalyst Ohio