“Funding is typically quite spotty; it really depends on the luck of geography for most children. Overall, we do not have a universal system by any stretch to fund pre-K, and that should be a goal,” Guernsey said.
The report highlighted research that shows that high-quality early learning can significantly affect the chance for academic success, lowering the likelihood of students to be held back or need special education.
“I think there’s still a lot to do. Education policy people need to see these connections and why they matter,” Guernsey said, addressing how early childhood education is often discounted in the learning process.
She also indicated that literacy rate could be greatly impacted by beefing up pre-K through third grade standards.
“So many children are not proficient readers by the end of third grade. Making sure our systems are linked and cohesive and making sure our students receive quality learning through third grade—that’s how we close those reading gaps,” she said.
The NAESP report also calls for better-trained early childhood teachers, with adequate support for those teachers.
“Teachers need to be ready for children in the same way that families need to be ready for school. It’s going to require we do a lot more clinical practice with possible teachers and much more of a career lattice for teachers in early learning,” Guernsey said.
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