The access to a high-quality education has become a major issue for many developing school districts in the United States; more importantly, access to a high-quality early childhood education is even further limited to many families not just because of a lack of access, but because of a lack of resources in the United States public school system.
Currently, early childhood education is not available for every student in the country and is not universally supported, but developing research around these young students has proven that an early childhood education will contribute to higher graduation percentages, reduced crime rates, higher annual salaries, and an 8:1 return on economic dollar investment throughout their lifetime—thus producing high-quality citizens.
Because of this, optional early childhood education programs should be funded at both the state and federal level and universally supported. Most often, early childhood education is targeted at three to five-year old children before entering elementary school, but many research studies and programs will identify early childhood care and education just as important for this age group as it is for children up to eight years of age.
Programs for these children can be either school-based or center-based in urban or rural areas (Early Education for All 2011). Each year between birth and the age of eight marks a time of exponential brain growth and helps to lay the foundation for subsequent learning and development. Since these years are marked by remarkable brain growth, early childhood is the prime age period for children to receive a quality education (National Education Association ! ROIGER! 2! 2014). It seems as if it is almost clear-cut, a quality early childhood education should be available to all children of the United States in order to help build future societal contributors.
Spodek and Saracho’s book, Handbook of Research on the Education of Young Children, reaches beyond its title and touches on the theory and practice of early childhood education. The authors define these three areas as independent pieces in society’s perspectives, but interrelated in reality. Throughout history, early childhood education has been practiced for much longer than it has been researched. Until the last 50 years, when early childhood education became a hot topic in many funding debates, not a lot of researchers had initiated any studies.
As early childhood education development became more popular as a result of developmental psychology interest, Spodek and Saracho started to identify the chain of steps in expanding early childhood education in the United States and investment resources to train educators (Spodek and Saracho 2006). A major concern of early childhood education experts in the United States is the lack of funding, support, and resources available to allow these childcare programs to inhibit growth.
In the past few months, funding has been difficult to obtain because of sequester cuts in federal government funding, but it has been even more difficult to obtain state funding because of the lack of ability to borrow money at the state level or find new revenue. The support for early childhood education is currently limited because of the scarce information known to the public about this issue. Early childhood education is in fact a very bipartisan issue, despite more initiatives from liberal individuals to make these programs a reality.
The trouble with supporting early childhood education programs is that most constituents are unaware of the impact it really has on our society. ! ROIGER! 3! W. Steven Barnett of Rutgers University Center for Early Education explains early childhood education from his expertise in chapter one of School Reform Proposals: The Research Evidence. Children involved in the studies within the first chapter had a disadvantage compared to average students and were more likely to repeat a grade or fail a class. Research from the Child Parent Centers in Chicago sampled 1,500 children ages three to nine with extended elementary programs; the results that came back were more than reassuring.
Students who participated in the program were less likely to be placed in special education, repeat a grade level, or be placed under juvenile arrest. Additionally, these students placed higher on reading and math placement tests, and they also had a higher graduation rate compared to the other test groups. The research documented that achievement gaps were even better for this group if students were from high-poverty neighborhoods. Barnett supports early childhood education expanding to optional everyday schooling before kindergarten, and documents positive effects on a child’s long-term social and economic development.
(Molnar and Barnett 2002). Soni Sangha, classified as a middle-class family member of New York City, wrote for a column in the New York Times about her struggles finding affordable access and availability to a public preschool program for her firstborn child. Sangha isn’t alone; several families are being rejected to a public school early childhood education because of lack of resources to educate all children in the state of New York.
These families are being forced in a co-op early childhood education, which involves the active participation of parents providing facilities and materials to a group of children at the lowest maintainable cost possible (Sangha 2011). While this method of education is certainly beneficial and better than no education at all for young children, Barnett’s optimal early childhood recommendations include trained professionals with bachelor degrees in the field educating these youth (Molnar and Barnett 2011).
However, because Sangha’s family ! ROIGER! 4! didn’t have access to a public early education program, they had to settle for less than what they were hoping for. Art Rolnick is the senior fellow and co-director of the Human Capital Research Collaborative in the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, as well as the former director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis.
Rolnick began his work in early childhood education almost on accident; he was recruited reluctantly to sit on the board for an early childhood organization known as Ready4K. Rolnick immediately saw the benefits of this early education, not just psychologically but also logistically (Schmickle 2012). As expert economists, fellow colleague Rob Grunewald and Rolnick discovered that high quality education for disadvantaged young children created a 16% economic output with inflation-adjusted rates (Rolnick and Grunewald 2003).
The facts played out over not just one longitudinal study but four longitudinal studies. Every study came back with consistent results: early childhood education is an unbeatable source of public investment. The capstone of these studies, known as the Perry Preschool study, found that every dollar invested in one particular underprivileged preschool program yielded over eight dollars in return. The same study again found lower arrests, higher salary earnings, more graduations, and overall better learning achievements across the education system throughout elementary and secondary schooling (HighScope 2005).
Early childhood education can make a significant impact almost right after birth if a particular individual demands it. For example, a CBS Denver newspaper highlighted Elle, who was a normal baby. However, once she turned 1 ? years old, she started to need more books, games, attention, and interaction. Her parents made a guilty decision of signing her up for two days of school each week even though she had the rest of her life to go to school.
After several weeks in the program, the parents felt no remorse as Elle started to thrive in her classroom. Elle’s ! ROIGER! 5! parents later even described it as one of the best things they could have possibly done for Elle (CBS Denver 2013). This Denver toddler proved that early education could make an impact at the speed of which the brain develops, and the solution is to make sure every family has access to this training and development of children. Another concern that has recently been on the rise in early childhood education is retaining individuals to work in these childcare programs.
Like any other teacher or care worker, low salaries don’t help to pay potential student loan payments among a host of other financial contributions. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, pre-school teachers earn an average of $15. 74 per hour and childcare workers receive about $10. 50 per hour. Even bank tellers and janitors earn more money on average per hour than a childcare worker at $11. 91 and $11. 65, respectively. Because pay is low, demand is high.
There are 28,422 childcare workers just in Minnesota and that number is expect to increase by nearly 25% in the next decade (Regan 2013). Because of this demand, trained childcare workers and educators are needed in addition to financial support to make early childhood education a public reality for any family who wishes to enroll. Early childhood education is a growing trend in our society, and the access to it has become a growing issue.
Funding is the best solution to this issue, but reform may also help play a major role in the future. Other states, for example, have started to allocate resources differently in their early learning programs. In 2005, Maryland appointed a director of early learning, whose job was to clean up Maryland’s current early childhood education program and create sound efficiency. As a result of the appointed director, Maryland has helped 20,000 more children become ready for the first day of school (Maryland Department of Education 2014).
The White House currently has many programs that focus on engagement of early learning, but the state of ! ROIGER! 6! Minnesota does not have many well-known programs that are specifically targeted for early learners. One of these programs through the White House is Race To The Top: Early Learning Challenge, which allocates funds to states who are preparing their children for kindergarten more readily.
Another very well known federal government early learning program is Head Start. Head Start programs give needy children the opportunity of receiving an early learning education. However, the program does not expand to every single need child in America, which creates many difficulties for all of the children who are in need of an early childhood education. Currently, the President is looking for ways to expand Head Start to more families in America.
In a time of economic crisis, the best way to deal with this problem from Head Start is through more funds. Both the Early Learning Challenge and Head Start have links at the state government level, but are largely projects of the national government. Minnesota needs to create a successful early childhood education environment in our state, and here is how we are going to do it. Experts recommend that the federal government quadruples funding for Early Head Start programs and maintain the level of funding on a yearly basis (Kagan and Reid 2009).
There is no doubt that these programs cannot pay for themselves, so the funds have to come from an alternative source besides the federal government. Minnesota’s cigarette tax recently increased from $1. 23 to $2. 83 per pack, and while this is one of the leading tobacco taxes in the country, it should be increased even further to total a tax of $3. 00 per pack. If the revenue from this increase were to be proportional to that of the most recent tax increase, the state would raise $223 million to invest into early childhood education programs (Hammersley 2013). ! ROIGER! 7!
Even this simple solution would be an incredibly large increase in early childhood education and childcare funding compared to the Ohio legislature, which passed measures of $30 million in additional funding for this fiscal year as a result of 2,100 child slots cut along with 307 staff jobs across the state due to sequestration. According to Gayle Kelly, executive director of the Minnesota Head Start Association, Minnesota will have 760 childcare positions in Head Start cut itself (Pew 2013). Imagine how $223 million in revenue from tobacco taxes could impact those 760 children, in addition to several thousand more.
An additional opportunity to access funding for early childhood education programs is putting the issue on a priority list compared to professional sports stadium construction and evaluating the best source of funding. This is one way that the public perception of early education programs might change and allow research to be initiated. Often times, the construction of huge entertainment attractions is viewed as an investment in economic development.
However, early childhood education and childcare programs are also an economic investment. Because of one dollar invested into the program, eight dollars is turned back into the economy. This results from a higher standard of living due to a better job and a better environment to grow up in compared to someone who might grow up in poverty. Not only are they an economic investment, but society also receives a social investment that entertainment complexes cannot reach.
Early childhood educates builds better human beings by reducing crime rates, raising educational capacities, and preparing children to be future career workers. Early childhood education programs are very beneficial to our country.
They are important because they contribute to the growth of well-rounded citizens who have active engagement in social, economical, and political engagements.
The federal government has implemented programs, but they are also needed at the local and state level to have a larger ! ROIGER! 8! impact on these young children. Implementation of these programs, such as that of the Maryland coordinator, would help create an efficient early childhood education learning environment in Minnesota. Early childhood education is important because it fosters growth from birth until the age of eight years old, which is when 90% of the brain’s learning is developed. If children are to learn anything in their life, they must start to learn at the beginning of their lifetime.
One child from an early childhood education program could end up being soccer mom of the year in Manhattan or the first female president of the United State—but that will only happen if there is funding to help that child unlock her potential. ! ROIGER! 9! Works Cited “Early Childhood Education. ” Salaries. N. p. , n. d. Web. 7 May 2014. <http://www. earlychildhoodeducation. com/salaries/>. “Early Childhood Education. ” CBS Denver. N. p. , 4 Mar. 2013.
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Kagan, Sharon Lynn, and Jeanne L.Reid. “Invest in Early Childhood Education. ” The Phi Delta Kappan 90. 8 (2009): 572-576. Print. Molnar, Alex, and W. Steven Barnett. “Early Childhood Education. ” School Reform Proposals: The Research Evidence. Greenwich, Conn. : Information Age Publication, 2002. 1-26. Print. “Perry Preschool Study. ” HighScope. N. p. , n. d. Web. 6 May 2014. <http://www. highscope. org/content. asp? contentid=219>. Pew, Adrienne Lu. “Head Start Hit with Worst Cuts in its History. ” USA Today. N. p. , 20 Aug. ! ROIGER! 10! 2013. Web.
6 May 2014. <http://www. usatoday. com/story/news/nation/2013/08/19/stateline-head-start/2671309/>. Regan, Sheila. “Paying Early Childhood Educators What They Are Worth. ” Twin Cities Daily Planet. N. p. , 1 Mar. 2013. Web. 7 May 2014. <http://www. tcdailyplanet. net/news/2013/02/27/paying-child-care-workers-and-pre-k- teachers-what-they-are-worth>. Rolnick, Arthur J. , and Rob Grunewald. “Early Childhood Development: Economic Development with a High Public Return. ” The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. N. p. , 1 Mar. 2003.
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