Arkansas, thanks to some progressive leadership, actually has done reasonably well in advancing early childhood education, a movement that began back in the 1980s here. But, the Advocates note, programs are full or funding has been stagnant. We should be expanding, not contracting these programs.
The rise of the 'bagger legislator doesn't bode well for such programs for poor people (though I suppose if the state promised to include state-financed Bible instruction, some of them might soften, particularly those reaping the money for operating such programs already.)
Students who participate in the Arkansas Better Chance program, said the Advocates," score higher in language at the end of kindergarten, and higher in language and math at the end of first grade, than students who do not participate in pre-k programs." These programs close gaps between poor and minority children and better-off and white children.
Improvement is particularly needed for the youngest children. Only 2 percent of low-income children younger than 3 (about 60 percent are in families below 200 percent of poverty) are enrolled in Pre-K, a critical time for development.
“The return on investment from early childhood development is extraordinary,” AACF Executive Director Rich Huddleston said in a news release. “The result is higher high school graduation rates, which means more educated workers and less crime. It’s also really important for at-risk and low-income children. We need to make sure those kids, and all our kids, have an equal opportunity to learn. And broadening pre-k participation will do that.”