Ready Kids: Obama Desires to Expand Pre-K


Earlier this week, President Obama’s State of the Union address focused heavily on outlining America’s future; crucial to this outline was investing in equality of opportunity for America’s young children. Quality childhood education programs are cost-effective and a proactive attempt at curtailing educational inequality head-on, according to many human capital experts, such as Nobel Laureate Dr. James Heckman.
Much research suggests that low-income children come to school already systematically disadvantaged than their peers that are higher-income. Often, low-income children are exposed to significantly fewer words than children with higher-income parents. This is nothing to say about the quality of low-income parents, this is however to point to the fact that there may be some inherent and unseen (but vocal) disadvantages working against poorer children when they come to school.
These cyclical “poverty-traps” negatively affect low-income performance, compared to their higher-income peers in third grade (many child-education experts identify third grade as crucial for predicting future educational performance).  However, these effects are often curtailed when low to moderate-income children start school, if children are enrolled in high-quality early childhood programs such as JUMP Start. Less economically advantaged students can perform equally well, there may just need to be consistent high-quality efforts to maintain the benefits. 
President Obama, at the State of the Union, affirmed the federal government’s commitment to help states expand access to high-quality early education. In DC, Mayor Gray is already outspoken proponent of universal early childhood access; there have been efforts to increase high quality early childhood centers in low-income neighborhoods. One such example is the Educare opening in Ward 7, which seeks to service children and infants.

DC VOICE is committed to seeing that early childhood initiatives are promoted within the District of Columbia, to benefit our entire community. One of our recent projects, Ready Kids, was conducted assessed how prepared young children are when they enter schools. Using the District’s five readiness indicators (Social, Cognitive, Physical Health, Emotional Appropriateness and Language Development), we conducted surveys of kindergarten teachers, counselors and nurses.
Participants’ responses were collected and the aggregate data was recently publicly released as part of our Ready Kids project.

Written by: Claire Bocage


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