preschool

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wants the United States to commit $775 billion to expand access for and lower the cost of caregiving.

The proposal, which Biden outlined in a speech Tuesday afternoon, would emphasize tax credits and state funding subsidies to make child care more affordable and accessible, and make prekindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds universal.

Aaron Burden / Unsplash

A national report shows Oklahoma pre-kindergarten programs have strong enrollment numbers and are some of the most accessible in the country. However, preschool funding still hasn’t recovered to pre-recession levels, and coronavirus further threatens one of the few education areas of which Oklahoma is a leader.

Lenora LaVictoire / StateImpact Oklahoma

A controversial proposal in the Oklahoma state legislature would delay the age kids would be eligible to start kindergarten and put Oklahoma on-trend with dozens of other states. But some childhood experts say the trend may not serve Oklahoma kids well.

LLUDO / FLICKR (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

With a huge freshman class and a promise for less gridlock, Oklahoma lawmakers filed more than 2,800 bills this legislative session. With a third of the session now over, the StateImpact team has an update on some bills we’re following.

 

Health

 

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

A bill that would raise the age children can start pre-K and kindergarten is moving through the Oklahoma State Senate.

Right now, a child must turn four-years-old before September 1st to enroll in pre-K or five-years-old to enroll in kindergarten. Senate Bill 11, authored by Greg McCortney (R-Ada), would change that to August 1st, meaning the youngest kids would have to wait a year to enroll.

With Meghna Chakrabarti

Some cities and states have tried implementing universal pre-K. But the idea’s struggled to find a nationwide platform. Could that be changing?


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In Kelly Stevens' kindergarten classroom, each day begins with circle time for what sounds like a menu of lesson options.

Students — or "friends" as Stevens calls them — can read at the green table, they can build boats or make things out of clay, among other options.

Students Marco Carias Castellanos and Holden Free chose a writing activity today. But there's no worksheet in front of them. Instead, they're standing in front of wolf statues they made out of blocks and their assignment is to write labels for body parts.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Kids are scattered around the preschool classroom at Zarrow International School in Tulsa. It’s loud and chaotic, but it’s organized. Some students paint pictures; others write out the letters of the alphabet. The small group sitting around teacher Irene Castell is learning to count and compare numbers.

Castell says many kids would not learn these skills if they stayed home, or went to daycare.

“We always hear back from teachers of kindergartners, ‘We can always tell who’s been to pre-K,’” she says.

In 2001, not long after Oklahoma had adopted one of the nation's first universal pre-K programs, researchers from Georgetown University began tracking kids who came out of the program in Tulsa, documenting their academic progress over time.

In a new report published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management today, researchers were able to show that Tulsa's pre-K program has significant, positive effects on students' outcomes and well-being through middle school.

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