Pre-K in NC

Great Op-Ed in the N&O about the Republicans’ plan to limit eligibility for pre-K in NC (and you know what a bad idea that is).  But just in case you didn’t:

Children who participate in these programs are more likely to graduate from high school, hold a job considered semi-skilled or higher, attain a four-year degree and earn more as adults. And that is good for our businesses and our state’s economy.

Key to these economic outcomes are two critical factors: the quality of the programs and access to the programs.

•  Quality: Some policymakers have been led to believe that improvements in school performance for children in early learning programs diminish as they get into elementary school. Some call it “fade-out.”

But decades of data and longitudinal studies do not support this conclusion when early learning programs are high-quality.

A 2012 Duke University study of our state’s early learning programs shows North Carolina third-graders have higher standardized reading and math scores and lower special education placement rates in those counties with more funding for those programs. In fact, researchers found that the expected savings in reduced special education and instructional costs for children in these programs is at least equal to the cost of the programs – a break-even or savings of taxpayer money.

This study is not alone. A quantitative statistical analysis of 123 studies across four decades of early education research – a meta analysis – found that by third grade, one-third of the achievement gap can be closed by early education.

North Carolina is already a national model for high-quality early learning programs, being the second state to enact a Quality Rating and Improvement System. North Carolina’s programs have the quality components that get the results businesses want: appropriate teacher-to-child ratios, teachers educated in early childhood development, strong parental involvement and coaching, and screening and referral services to catch problems early.

North Carolina also leads the country in tying subsidies for child care to the quality of the programs. Programs receiving subsidies must have a star rating of three or higher.

Today, 70 percent of all young children in North Carolina’s regulated early learning programs attend high-quality programs rated with four or five stars.

Sadly, the latest proposal it to make it much harder for poor NC residents to get their children into one of these programs.  John F. spelled it out quite nicely on FB in response to this:

Living below the federal poverty level (FPL) means that a family has “insufficient income to provide the food, shelter and clothing needed to preserve health.” Child care was never a part of this equation so setting the eligibility requirements at 100% of the FPL is essentially asking working parents to decide between child care, food, shelter, and clothing for their children.

Yep.  But it’s okay, because we can use the savings to give tax cuts to wealthy North Carolinians!  That will surely have more long-term benefit for this state than investing in programs that have been proven to increase school performance and life success for at-risk kids.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to Pre-K in NC

  1. John F. says:

    Thanks for the quote! I find it especially interesting that the proposed North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship Program (see: school vouchers) income eligibility guidelines are higher than the current NC Pre-K income requirements which they’re seeking to significantly lower: http://pefnc.org/who-qualifies/

  2. pino says:

    Thanks for stopping by my place! Looks like I’ll enjoy coming over here…

    Children who participate in these programs are more likely to graduate from high school, hold a job considered semi-skilled or higher, attain a four-year degree and earn more as adults. And that is good for our businesses and our state’s economy.

    Well, that might be because kids whose parents value education put their kids in these programs. What I mean is this:

    My wife and I both work, or kids attending a pre-k program. They’re gonna graduate high school, go to college, kick it’s ass! ;-), and get a semi-skilled job or higher. However, if either my wife or I decided to stay at home, the outcome would have been the same.

    I think I remember a study regarding Chicago schools and their lottery. Turns out that winning r losing doesn’t matter. Simply having parents who CARE, i.e enter it, is the difference.

    The closest I could find before I have to go watch NCIS is this – page 8

    Click to access RAND_WR460.pdf

    Winning has no impact on scores.

    This study is not alone. A quantitative statistical analysis of 123 studies across four decades of early education research – a meta analysis – found that by third grade, one-third of the achievement gap can be closed by early education.

    The fade-out argument is that the benefits are largely gone AFTER 3rd grade.

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