A recent article in the Landcaster New Era, Wait list grows along with state preschool funding, describes a growing trend in early childhood education. Although funding has been increased in some states, the need and interest in programming for our youngest learners has increased even more!
The great thing about this article is the awareness it brings to the need for well-supported and funded pre-kindergarten programs. After one year, Pre-K Counts states its participants have made “tremendous growth.” Great! Now, the frustrating part: the article mentions that the funding, although increased, is not enough to support the families that need and want these services. It doesn’t make sense that a program with numerous life long benefits would be inadequately funded. The money spent early in a child’s life will be saved in the coming years. It is a classic example of a good investment that will mature over time. Some of the comments associated with the online posting of this article were also frustrating. It is frustrating to me, as an early childhood educator and as someone who respects children, to hear skeptics question which children need pre-k education. The answer is EVERYONE! Although there are higher risk students, every child has a right to be involved in early educational experiences. Not every student is an English language learner, and not every student has developmental delays, but each child needs to practice interacting positively with their peers and developing good learning habits. Early childhood classrooms provide a safe environment to develop those skills that are not always easy to assess. Again, the pre-k issue comes down to closing the opportunity gap. Parents need affordable and consistent programming that will support their child as he/she begins a lifetime of learning.