Report: Idaho among dwindling number of states choosing not to invest in preschool

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While most states enrolled more young children in public preschool, Idaho remains one of seven states opting not to fund early education programs, according to “The State of Preschool 2017” report issued Wednesday by the National Institute of Early Education Research.

“The State of Preschool” annual report is the only national report on state-funded preschool programs. This year’s report, based on 2016-17 academic year data, includes a special section on policies affecting Dual Language Learners, and highlights changes since 2002, when NIEER began tracking state pre-K.

“Recent changes in federal policy – including the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – make it clear that progress in early education depends more than ever on the states,” said NIEER Senior Co-Director Steven Barnett. “Our report highlights which states invest best in their young children and which leave too many children behind. Idaho is one state leaving children behind.” 

Research shows early childhood education can help prepare all children for greater success in elementary school and beyond – but only if quality is high. Enrollment in state-funded preschool programs has more than doubled since 2002, with more than 1.5 million children now enrolled nationwide.

National highlights include:

  • 43 states, D.C. and Guam provide publicly funded preschool to more than 1.5 million children
  • 7 states, including Idaho, do not invest in preschool programs
  • 10 states enroll 50% or more of their 4-year-olds in public pre-K
  • States spent a total of $7.6 billion on pre-K in 2016-17, a 2% increase from the previous year (inflation-adjusted) while real state spending per child enrolled in pre-K decreased
  • Alabama, Michigan and Rhode Island are the only states meeting all 10 new quality standards benchmarks
  • Most states don’t know how many dual language learners are enrolled in pre-K and most do not require pre-K teachers to have any training specific to working with DLLs

“Most developed nations now offer universal preschool – even China has committed to pre-K for every 4-year-old by 2020,” Dr. Barnett said. “Meanwhile, the United States has made little progress … This is no way to compete globally now or in the future. Our first step back to leadership is quality preschool.”

A Global View of Idaho's Pre-K Debate

When states debate pre-K, they shouldn’t just look locally. Or even at other states.

They should look globally, says W. Steven Barnett, a national expert in pre-K.

They should consider why Shanghai, China, is creating universal pre-K for 4-year-olds, staffed by college-educated teachers. China is a poorer country that aspires to be a wealthy country, and its leaders see pre-K as part of the answer.

Advocates gather in Capitol to push for state investment in early education

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On the heels of a new report showing widespread support among voters for state investment in preschool, advocates took to the Capitol Wednesday to illustrate the importance of high-quality early learning.

Young children from local early learning programs and parents with their children gathered in the Rotunda for BLOCK Fest®, an interactive exhibit developed in Idaho that demonstrates the importance of early learning through play. Rotating through stations featuring blocks of different sizes, children created patterns, built structures and told stories.

“Young children learn through play. They need hands-on experiences to develop the early math, literacy and social skills needed to excel later in life,” said Beth Oppenheimer, executive director of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children. “Block play is just one example of the kinds of active learning experiences that should be a part of every early learning program.”

Idaho voters and parents recognize that these kinds of experiences are crucial for a child’s brain development, according to a report released last month by the public opinion research firm Moore Information and Idaho AEYC. Moore Information conducted a total of 509 interviews for the survey – 406 among a representative sample of registered voters statewide in Idaho, plus an oversample of 103 parents of children age 5 or younger. Nearly seven in ten of the voters and parents surveyed believe the state of Idaho should be doing more to ensure that children begin kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need to do their best in school. Seventy-six percent of voters and 80% of parents said they support state investments in preschool.

“Idaho remains one of a handful of states that does not invest in preschool options for children 3 to 5 years old, and teachers statewide continue to see children entering kindergarten without the foundational skills they need to succeed,” Oppenheimer said. “We need quality, affordable, voluntary preschool options for Idaho families so that children can excel throughout school and throughout life.”

This is the fourth year that Idaho AEYC has hosted an Early Learning Legislative Day at the Capitol. The nonprofit was joined by Idaho Voices for Children, the Idaho Head Start Association, the Twiga Foundation, the Idaho Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Building Villages and the Idaho Commission for Libraries’ Read to Me program.

National Organization Provides Snapshots of Idaho Child Care Landscape

July 14, 2017 (Boise, ID) – Yesterday, Child Care Aware® of America released their 2017 State Fact Sheet outlining the use, supply, and cost of child care across all 50 states. The report finds Idaho has over 76,000 children, from birth to age 6, who are in need of child care across the state. These children come from households where both parents are in the work force or working single-parent families.

Charming Charlie Fundraiser

Charming Charlie is hosting a fundraiser for Idaho AEYC at The Village in Meridian!

For every item you purchase, whether it be jewelry, handbags or various accessories, Idaho AEYC will receive a portion of your purchase. If you haven’t found your statement necklace yet, that’s the place to go. If you find one you like, buy it in every color! The more you buy; the more we benefit.

Idaho CapEd Foundation Donates Books to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

The Idaho CapEd Foundation donated over 1,700 new books to the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) to support their efforts to increase reading over the summer months. The donated books, for children birth to third grade, will be given out this spring to parents and child care centers serving low-income families in the Treasure Valley. 

Early Learning Supporters Plan Event at the Capitol

February 6, 2017 (Boise, ID) - Efforts continue to gain support for investments in quality early learning programs for Idaho’s youngest children. Research is clear that children with access to high quality early learning programs enter school better prepared than children who do not have these opportunities. At Early Learning Legislative Day, on Wednesday, February 8th, supporters will bring attention to the importance of early learning through an interactive BLOCK Fest for Idaho kids in the Capitol Rotunda.

New Horizon Academy Receives National Accreditation

The New Horizon Academy’s Boise Avenue Center  has earned recognition for the highest level of quality through accreditation with National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). NAEYC Accreditation represents the gold mark of quality in early childhood education and measures the early childhood program against 10 NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards and more than 400 related accreditation criteria.

In an Era of Growing State-funded Pre-K, Idaho Has None

Many 3- and 4-year olds still lack access to high-quality preschool education despite modest gains in enrollment, quality, and funding, according to an annual report by the nonpartisan National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. While several states, including New York, made significant progress through a concerted effort to increase enrollment and funding and improve quality, progress is slow and uneven nationally and quality standards are particularly low in some of the nation’s largest states like California, Florida and Texas. Despite the relatively good news this year, the rate of progress is so slow that it will take 150 years for the nation to reach 75 percent enrollment in state pre-K even at age 4.

Celebrating Our Youngest Learners

IDAHO CELEBRATES WEEK OF THE YOUNG CHILD

April 11, 2016 (Boise, ID) – Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) asks Idaho to come together for children during the Week of the Young Child™ (April 10-16, 2016). As part of the national Week of the Young Child™ celebrated across the country, Idaho is honoring young children and all those who make a difference in children’s lives.

“Young children and their families depend on high-quality education and care, which help children get a great start and bring lasting benefits to Idaho,” said Idaho AEYC Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer. “Week of the Young Child™ is a time to recognize the importance of early learning and early literacy, and to celebrate the teachers and policies that bring early childhood education to young children.”

Early Learning in Idaho: Finding Common Ground

In May 2015, the Andrus Center for Public Policy and the James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research had the great privilege to cohost Early Learning in Idaho: Finding Common Ground. Members of our organizing committee represented organizations from across the business community and political spectrum. Our common goal was to seek an Idaho solution to the serious problem that almost half of Idaho’s children enter kindergarten without the educational foundation they need to be successful.