The Need for More Cohesive and Innovative Federal Pre-K Programs

Excerpt being summarized is called Proposed: Waiving Rules in Return for Innovation in Early Education, from the Early Childhood Focus and original excerpt is from the New America Foundation

Body:  The reviews about the success and effectiveness of Head Start have always been debated.  After the publication of the Impact Study, which delineates the studies and results of those studies, there are more eyes on ways to make changes to Head Start and other federal pre-K programs.  The Impact Study reports were disappointing but there is a proposal out there for some change.  I haven’t read the Impact Study (yet) but I do find this proposal of making states competitive for trial programs interesting.

In order to make more cohesive, coherent, efficient and innovative federal pre-K programs, W. Steven Barnett* and Ron Haskins** suggest the federal government needs to free up some of the regulations, both Head Start Performance Standards and waiving the “barriers to comingle funds”.  They suggest a good way to test and evaluate this is to have a competitive grant program for states to apply for.

Barnett and Haskins propose that the three or four winning states would have to agree to evaluations that would take place with the children when they begin the program and then possibly follow them all the way through college!

The Early Learning Challenge Fund is in legislation, the first time it was dropped, but many in Congress are fighting to get it into the 2011 budget.  Many think that the proposal would fit perfectly within this legislation because it proposes many of the same things, using the structure that is already in place and providing a competitive atmosphere between the states to find out how to best tweak it.

Currently there is some collaboration between federal programs at the state level but it is difficult to execute with the “barriers to co-mingling funds.”   Although, Lisa Guernsey does state that an outstanding question is if this is really the culprit of the disparity in quality between federal pre-K programs.  Duly noted is the challenge of ensuring that the low income and most disadvantaged children are still given priority since they are a very important aspect of these federal programs.

I find it exciting to see these programs being evaluated and understanding how they work and I am happy to see a proposal for an alternative way of doing things.  What do you think?

*W. Steven Barnett is the co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research
**Ron Haskins is the co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution

Source: Lisa Guernsey, Proposed: Waiving Rules in Return for Innovations in Early Ed, October, 28, 2010,http://earlyed.newamerica.net/blogposts/2010/proposed_waiving_rules_in_return_for_innovations_in_early_ed-39158

 

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