The House Republicans must not have gotten the memo. After 40 years of research, including numerous recent studies that show investment in pre-k to be a sound budgetary decision, the house has proposed to cut funding to 218 thousand Head Start children. While the rest of the nation is fine tuning the Early Learning Challenge Fund, a bill to increase quality and access to pre-k, House Republicans are attempting to renege on their obligation to support families in their own voting districts. This current crew of House Republicans have never seen the persistent but quiet movement for equity in our educational system that is the Head Start family. Each time funding to Head Start is challenged families, directors, teachers, and community partners must stand up to say, “No” you can not steal from our nation’s neediest families. PEW Charitable Trusts described it this way in a recent press release,
“Fiscal health comes from budget discipline and making smart investments in programs that offer strong returns. The research shows early learning programs provide children with a solid foundation for success, which pays dividends for families, school districts and taxpayers—and ultimately improves America’s economic competitiveness.”
Now is that time again. As Miller says in the video below, fight back for Head Start parents who don’t get the same voice as Hedge Fund managers and Big Oil.
If you want to you can use this paragraph from the CLASP as the basis of your letter. Be sure to sign your name.
Four decades of research confirm that Head Start improves the readiness of poor children, and that children who participate perform better in school and are less likely to repeat a grade or need special education services and have higher graduation rates than their peers. Head Start children outperform their peers on every measure of children’s preschool experiences, including cognitive development and health. Research is also clear that Early Head Start, which reaches infants and toddlers, also works. The program has positive impacts on a wide array of child outcomes, as well as family self-sufficiency and parental support of child development. Children who participate in Early Head Start programs show gains in language and cognitive development, exhibit lower levels of aggressive behavior and more positive interactions with their parents than do children from similar backgrounds who did not participate in Early Head Start.
In 1998 the New Jersey Supreme Court mandated that 31 school
districts provide universal pre-k services because of a lawsuit
involving inequitable funding. The case, Abbott vs. Burke
resulted in numerous changes in the districts involved in the lawsuit
including the courts mandating of universal pre-k access in the
districts involved. These districts have become known as Abbott
Preschool Districts and their pre-k programs have been the topic of much
eyeballing by policy makers and advocates interested in finding out if
it would result in high outcomes for children.
Jennifer Dubin wrote a detailed story on A Preschool with Promise, a day in the life of
an Abbott district preschool classroom. The center featured in the
article, published by the American Federation of Teachers, is the Ignacio Cruz Early Childhood
Center. Dubin describes a day of high quality services from the
standpoint of children's experiences. She describes a rich and engaging
day of learning that included reading and math instruction, pretend
play, and social-emotional development. One of the key areas explored in
the article is the differences between 3 year old and 4 year old
curriculum. The primary difference is that 3 year old students focus
more on social emotional development and gaining an awareness of the
functions and processes of going to formal school. The 4 year old
curriculum focuses on preparing students socially and academically for
Understanding the differences that should be
addressed in a 3 year old vs. 4 year old classroom is a topic we have
struggled with in my own school division. We have approached the issue
by organizing a 3 year old curriculum team to consider what is
appropriate to expect of childrens development before they leave their 3
year old year in Head Start based on Virginia's Milestones of Child Development.
It is a hard process that has helped me understand the difficulty of
vertical alignment of learning.
Lateral as well as longitudinal
collaboration within the Perth Amboy school district has created a high
quality environment for learning. Lateral is collaboration between the
public schools and private providers who help achieve the vision of the
district's superintendent John Rodecker, "The goal is to serve every
eligible student, we thought we were close to that," The numbers keep
growing." In January there was still a waiting list of 100 students.
There is also vertical or longitudinal collaboration between the
preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers. "Perth Amboy's
kindergarten and preschool teachers began meeting together regularly to
review state standards that outline what students should learn in each
grade. Through these meetings, teachers align the knowledge and skills
that children should acquire in preschool to the expectations for the
transition to kindergarten."
All eyes are on the universal
efforts in the Abbott school districts to keep the promise of a high
quality pre-k experience. The results, at least from the perspective of
children, seems to be right on track.