early childhood education

Little children are big news this week, as the White House holds a summit on early childhood education on Wednesday. The president wants every 4-year-old to go to preschool, but the new Congress is unlikely to foot that bill.

Since last year, more than 30 states have expanded access to preschool. But there's still a lack of evidence about exactly what kinds of interventions are most effective in those crucial early years.

Public preschool enrollment fell slightly last year, according to a report released today by researchers at Rutgers University.

About 9,000 fewer children attended public pre-K programs in 2013 than in 2012, the report from the university's National Institute for Early Education Research says. It's the first time since researchers began examining this issue in 2002 that the numbers have fallen.

It's a Wednesday morning at the Eliot K-8 Innovation School. Teacher Jodi Doyle is working with a small group of preschool students interested in domes.

"What do you think the difference is between a dome and an arch?" she asks.

The lesson doesn't go exactly as planned. Doyle wants the kids to build their domes with wire, but she wants the children to come up with that idea themselves. The kids used wire several months ago for a related project, and she hopes they'll remember.

In the early 1990s, a team of researchers decided to follow about 40 volunteer families — some poor, some middle class, some rich — during the first three years of their new children's lives. Every month, the researchers recorded an hour of sound from the families' homes. Later in the lab, the team listened back and painstakingly tallied up the total number of words spoken in each household.

What they found came to be known as the "word gap."

Lawmakers have put the final nail in the coffin to close LSU’s public hospital in North Baton Rouge. In Wednesday’s Joint Budget Committee, the Baton Rouge delegation pointed to gaps in care for pregnant women, prisoners and mental health services.

Sen. Sharon Broome said she was appalled that the decades-old initiative to revamp facilities at Earl K Long morphed into moving services.  “And we tried our best to get a new facility," Broome said. "Administrations change, goals change. I understand that. But I am very concerned when goals change and people are not considered.”

Results of a ten year study show at-risk students who attended Pre-K do better in elementary and middle school.

Pre-K: Politics and Poverty

Mar 22, 2013
Pre-K students raise their hands to answer a question in an LA-4 class.
Sue Lincoln / Southern Education Desk

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for universal pre-K.

The President singled out Georgia and Oklahoma as states that have already made pre-K a priority.

Louisiana should also be ahead of the curve.

The state enacted a universal pre-K promise in 2008. Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, LA-4 classes are supposed to be provided at no cost to every eligible child.


Pre-K Access: Good Program, Few Spots

Mar 21, 2013
Stephanie Berry and her son Cameron.
Dan Carsen / Southern Education Desk

When it comes to enrollment rates, neither the South nor the U.S. is anywhere near “universal Pre-K.” Only eight states provide it to more than half their four-year-olds. Georgia is one of them. Louisiana enacted legislation in 2008 promising to provide pre-K to every eligible child through the state-run LA-4 program starting with the 2013-14 school year.

Alabama's state-funded pre-K program has been recognized as one of the country's best. But as the Southern Education Desk's Dan Carsen reports, just six percent of eligible kids are enrolled.


Champagne Starr, Karen Ponder, Linda Evans

Nov 13, 2012

Baton Rouge Metro Council candidate Champagne Starr discusses undergoing gender reassignment and matters facing the Capitol City. Then, early childhood consultant Karen Ponder speaks on the importance of early childhood learning. And veteran actress Linda Evans, of Dynasty and The Big Valley, visits.


Tegan Wendland / WRKF

The full house will consider a bill Monday that would overhaul early education in Louisiana. The bill, part of Gov. Bobby Jindal's education reform package, would challenge child care centers to prove that very young children are learning.

WRKF's Tegan Wendland talked with Renee Casbergue, interim assistant dean of Education at LSU and a specialist in early childhood education, about the proposed legislation, which she says is being overshadowed by the governor's bids to change how teachers get tenure and support private school vouchers.