Rhode Island, the smallest state in the U.S. is about to launch a small pre-kindergarten program for low-income children. It will be the first of its kind in a state that is one of just 12 in the U.S. that don’t offer public programs. A story in the Providence Journal of Rhode Island notes that the tiny state is starting small: just four to six classrooms taught by qualified teachers.
The Journal included an interesting quote that goes to the heart of pre-kindergarten education: Quality counts. Larger states with free programs have run into questions and concerns about the quality of their offerings for years.
“Quality is everything,” Robert G. Flanders Jr., chairman of the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education, told The Journal.. “We are not just talking about daycare, but a quality preschool environment where learning takes place according to certain standards. So it’s terribly important that any program we initiate has quality factors built in and has certified instructors who have the appropriate skills to deal with early learning, and not just people who are good babysitters.”
It will be interesting to watch efforts in Rhode Island, a hard-hit state economically that managed to find $700,000 in the state budget for the program.
Jennifer Jordan of The Journal raised all the right questions in her solidly reported story. But it would be interesting to see stories and hear from journalists who have uncovered quality issues in their state programs. How is success measured? What works and doesn’t, and how will the state keep track of progress and problems?
EarlyStories would love to see (and post) some examples.