Feds tout First State's early childhood education efforts
U.S. Education Secretary John King praised Delaware’s progress in bettering its early childhood education system during a visit to Wilmington Tuesday.
State officials are closing out a nearly $50 million federal grant Delaware received in 2001 and have used to boost developmental screenings and improve pre-K centers and access to them for low-income families. The funds have gone toward incentivizing educators to focus on teaching young children.
Standardized test scores have been higher among younger kids compared to older students, something Gov. Jack Markell (D-Delaware) says is proof the programs are working.
"The children in Delaware who have been the beneficiaries of the improvement in [early childhood education], the embracing of the higher standards, the better professional development – including the professional learning communities – and many of these other things, the expectation is that these kids are going to be doing better and better,” said Markell.
State lawmakers set aside $9.2 million this year to help continue paying for the initiatives.
King says he also wants to see Congress to devote more money to these issues after President Obama leaves office next January.
“We want to make sure that we build on the national momentum around early learning and get to a place where we have universal access to quality early learning for four-year-olds and, ideally, for three-year-olds as well,” said King
King adds that one of the next hurdles states face is closing a pay gap between pre-K and elementary school teachers.