Georgia’s pre-K gets high marks

The National Institute for Early Education Research ranked Georgia as No. 3 in the country for access to quality preschool education. (Oklahoma and Florida ranked higher.)

Georgia has long received high marks for its universal pre-K, which uses lottery money to provide free education to more than half of the state’s 4-year-olds.

But that doesn’t mean the program is perfect.

Parents have long complained that the state doesn’t provide enough money to keep up with growing interest in the program. Many families say they can’t get into the classes in their neighborhoods or near where they work.

The state agency over pre-K, Bright from the Start, has said that while some programs have waitlists others have space for additional children. The agency says all programs use the same standards and curriculum.

I’ve heard other parents worry that not enough of the teachers hold bachelor’s degrees, a criticism mentioned in the national report.

What do you think of the state’s universal pre-K? Has the program improved education in Georgia?

34 comments Add your comment

jim d

April 23rd, 2009
8:39 am

Scuse me but this is an area where parents should be stepping up to the plate.

We have a few regular bloggers that like to blame the lack of parenting for most of our schools ills and in this case I have to agree. It is not the states place to be raising your 4 year olds. This is a very impressional time in their life and to surrender them over to the state is not only wrong but pretty damn stupid.

I guess the only positive thing I can say about this program is that it provides excellent baby setting services for all the tennis moms so they can get their court time in and shed the pounds they gained four years earlier.

jim d

April 23rd, 2009
8:53 am

Cost per pupil Pre-K = $4249 in 2008

Cost for a jenny craig plan for moms =

“just $1 a day more on Jenny’s Cuisine™ than the typical American spends on food.”

WEIGH THAT!

Clarence

April 23rd, 2009
9:34 am

I know jim d just likes to get a rise out of people, but he couldn’t be more off base here. Mountains of research has shown that Pre-k has tremendous positive academic outcomes, especially for at-risk kids. If you are more interested in crapping on people than actually improving educational outcomes, I guess it makes sense to say, “it’s the parents fault – we should let those four-year-olds sink.” And if you think the “state” is “raising” your four-year-old because they are in a school from 7-2, then I don’t know what that says about your own parenting ability. Might as well home school them straight through so they never have to put the poor little impressionable children out with other people. Meanwhile we can keep throwing money away on “coaches” or “VIPs” trying to convince an 18-year-old freshman to graduate from high school, and ignore ideas with proven outcomes.

And since most comments here tend to the anecdote, I will say I live in a community FULL of tennis moms, or stay at home moms, or soccer moms, or whatever other term you choose to use, and many if not most don’t put their kids in Pre-K. They can afford a nanny or religious mother’s morning out programs. You’ll make more hay if you make fun of the poor working mothers in the inner city who take advantage of this program.

Reality

April 23rd, 2009
9:37 am

jim d – OMG! You might just be seeing the big picture now!!! It is these very same parents that never “raised” their own children at 4 years old that will blame the schools when their brat that has never learned manners, values, respect gets into trouble at age 8 (or 11).

That is why I continue to ask the question: what do the parents do?

Education in GA gives youth food (free breakfest and lunch), shelter for most hours of the day, teaches math/science/English/social studies, teaches art/music/other, etc. Many teachers spend their own money to buy the youth school supplies and even clothes.

From where I sit, all some parents do is provide their children with i-pods, cell phones, internet, etc. And, these children are using this technology to learn about things that IMHO children that young shouldn’t be learning.

jim d

April 23rd, 2009
10:01 am

Reality,

We should be thankful that seats are Limited. In which case parents unable to get kids registered are able to do their job without government interference. It all boils down to a dependance on governmet for everything.

Pre-K Teacher

April 23rd, 2009
10:02 am

All Pre-K teachers should hold at least a bachelors degree. However, there need to be some changes to the way the program is run. It needs to be opened up for all kids, just like kindergarten. That would be a true “universal” pre-k program. The state could trim some fat at the state level by giving local control to school systems instead of paying all these Pre-k “consultants”, many of which have never taught Pre-K (or even taught in a classroom), to do the site evaluations. However, the programs in churches and daycares should still be monitored.
The evaluations are not based on teacher performance (at least, in my experience, I have never had a consultant see me teach~they usually come during nap time or lunch time), but on the materials in the classroom being in the right place when the consultant is there (assuming she sees the materials). Go to the State of Georgia Pre-K website, and look for the PQA, the PQA scoring and definitions, the PQA self-study, and the Content Standards. Teachers are expected to follow all of those guidelines, write 4 page lesson plans weekly, assess students all year long with photos, anecdotal records, student work, and matrices, do a checklist on each child every 4 1/2 weeks, change and document classroom materials in each area monthly, and oh yeah, teach.
Pre-K teachers have to write content standards on lesson plans, but assess students on a checklist with completely different qualifications.
Am I complaining about teaching Pre-k? Not really. I love the kids, and I agree with most of the guidelines. I see some things that the state could do to streamline the information (content standards should be the same as assessment tools, have one document to follow instead of 4-5) and save money(lose the consultants for the school systems), and it is really maddening when a teacher works so hard all year to be told that they don’t have materials (when they do!) and no way to appeal.
As for whether it has improved education in Georgia, ask a kindergarten teacher.

Reality

April 23rd, 2009
10:40 am

Pre-K Teacher – There is no doubt in my mind that a kindergarten teacher would say that the Pre-K program students are “better” than if there was no Pre-K.

However, my issue with all of this is the lack of parenting. The parents (not all of them) that use school in general (not just Pre-K) as a dumping ground to baby sit their kids and care nothing about education. These same parents are the ones that don’t teach respect, proper behavior, etc.

These same parents are the one that will threaten a law suit when that child grows up a bit and in middle or high school gets into a fight or is caught with drugs.

Parenting is just too important to turn over to any agency – government or otherwise.

jim d

April 23rd, 2009
11:23 am

Now Clarence,

“I like to get a rise out of people”

Now why on earth would you say something like that? Just because I beat Reality to to the punch blaming parents?

Truth of the matter is I don’t know how my child ever learned to read, write, do simple math before starting school then make it through school, being accepted at his choice college without having attended a state run pre-k program. Oh wait,—– maybe,— just maybe — it had something to do with family sacrifice and his mom leaving the job market to stay home and raise him. Ya think?

Clarence

April 23rd, 2009
11:57 am

Well, I made it through school and went to both of my choice colleges, and I never even went to kindergarten! But “the truth of the matter” is that there are students we are failing to reach, and we can either blame the parents, or try to do something about it. In my opinion, blaming the parents doesn’t actually FIX anything, while Pre-K has consistently shown solid results.

DB

April 23rd, 2009
12:58 pm

I’m not a big fan of pre-K, anyway, so I’m the wrong person to ask. I think there is a place for early intervention for at-risk kids, but for the most part, I have to agree with jim d, it seems to be state-paid babysitting for kids of a lot of families who are well able to take care of their own kids. As a teenager, I worked with my grandmother for several summers teaching a Head Start program in rural North Carolina. Those were kids who needed enrichment, the ones that didn’t have books at home, the ones whose parents didn’t read bedtime stories because they couldn’t read. My kids went to a nearby church pre-school, mostly as a chance to play with other kids, but they learned their ABCs, numbers and colors from ME.

Reality

April 23rd, 2009
1:00 pm

Clarence – You are right. Simply “blaming” doesn’t change anything. But, correctly identifing the source of a problem is certainly the first step.

And, if poor parenting is the source of the problem, shouldn’t we address it first? I have suggested that GA require a parenting class in high school as one possible solution (or at least a start).

If today’s children have not been properly parented, how do they know how to parent their own children? The cycle must be changed some how.

Pre-K may help to do the job that bad parents are not doing, currently. And, that seems to be a good thing for now. But, do you really want to rely on the government to ‘raise your kids’ indefinitly?

Fulton Teacher

April 23rd, 2009
1:18 pm

Maybe I’m missing something here…but I don’t get how putting your child in a lottery funded Pre-K program is “poor parenting” as some of you have suggested. I had my oldest attend a Catholic school pre-K program because that would be his elementary school. We decided to send our youngest to a local daycare that was NAEYC accredited for Pre-K. Both were excellent and I have no regrets. The “government” program provided my child with the same curriculum that the catholic school provided although I had to pay for private school. To be frank, academically my youngest could’ve skipped Pre-K and kindergarten, but he lacked maturity and that would’ve been detrimental to his development.

This is a great program that doesn’t use our tax dollars. Why complain? I’m no tennis mom, I teach for a living. My kids started school well above grade level and have continued to excel. Don’t make assumptions about parents because they take advantage of programs available to them. Students in low income areas need these programs. What do you suggest parents do with their kids?

V for Vendetta

April 23rd, 2009
1:40 pm

Clarence:

Though you’re right about pre-K having a positive influence on a child’s life, you’re off base with the long-term effect. No matter how good any program is, any teacher, or any grade, it cannot overcome the negative influence of poor parenting. At the end of the day, the home environment is the dominant environment. A pre-K student who has the most influential, knowledgeable, and well-trained teacher in the world can still turn out like garbage due to the negative influences in his life. For some, it DOES amount to state-sponsored babysitting. Furthermore, many of the “success” you cite comes from students who arguably would have been successful regardless.

I was leagues ahead of my peers when I entered kindergarten. Though I quickly tested into the Gifted program, I am not blind to the fact that my success had more to do with my parents teaching me how to read, write, and do Math well before I entered the public system than anything else. They took it upon themselves to teach me. Imagine that.

Similar to public schooling, the state-sponsored pre-K system devalues education by allowing people to obtain something for nothing. (I realize that public schools are tax funded, but, since we all have to pay them, it’s really a moot point.) Forgive people like Jim d, Reality, and myself for blaming the parents. I would hate to think that we expect them to do something. How unreasonable of us!

Harper's Mama

April 23rd, 2009
2:09 pm

So I am a bad mother for putting my child in daycare so that I can work? If I can get pre-k for free, when daycare is about a 1000 a month, why would I not do so? day care is just as expensive, if not more so, than university.

V for Vendetta

April 23rd, 2009
2:13 pm

Fulton Teacher:

We’re not attacking parents, not by a long shot. Rather, we’re pointing out that state-finded pre-K is not a magical solution and that it can’t overcome what is going on in the home. You did the same thing that I have done, and it has nothing to do with us being “bad” parents–quite the opposite. However, we’ve taught our children the value of an education and laid the groundwork for their success before they step foot through the door. The same can’t be said of many other parents.

Don’t get me wrong: Just because I don’t agree with tax-funded, state-funded, socialized programs, that doesn’t mean I won’t take advantage of them. It’s worth pointing out, though, that, if things were different, I would gladly PAY for my child to attend classes to supplement what I do at home. I do that because I care and I want my children to understand that education is a value. There are many parents who can’t figure that out.

jim d

April 23rd, 2009
2:17 pm

V,

I totally agree. But to add to what you have said allow me to expand on how we got where we are today in a lot of areas, not just education, because we have grown dependent upon government to provide our every need. areas such as education, food, nursing care, medical and drug expenses, relief for communities affected by weather, financial aid and incentives to business. When will the public finally stand up and say enough? When will we quit asking government to cure all of our ills and what better place to start than with education?

ok–i’m off my soap box!

Harper's Mama

April 23rd, 2009
2:21 pm

One more thought on this: I will be expecting MORE from the Pre-K program because the teachers are certified in their areas. The expectation is that they will teach our little ones something. I can assure you that both of my children will be taught respect and dignity for self and others, and if that lesson of respect and dignity is not reiterated in the school, then we will be removing our children from that institution. The beauty of the Pre-K is that parents DO have a choice, as Jim d is want to point out on a dialy basis. If the pre-k sucks, then no one attends, and the school shuts down…simple as that.

Reality

April 23rd, 2009
2:22 pm

Fulton Teacher and Harper’s Mom: No one ever said that the act of placing your child in Pre-K makes you a poor parent. What we are saying is that too many parents don’t parent and expect Pre-K (and the school system) to do the parenting for them. That expectaction is totally wrong. The children are growing up without any parenting and don’t understand the difference between lieing and the truth, between good and bad, between killing someone and simply being angry, and so on.

And worst of all, these very children without parenting grow up and have their own children and don’t know how to parent, themselves.

In today’s paper is a story about a 1st grader arrested by the police for assalting the teacher. Did the parents teach that kid to do this? Where are the parents in all of this??????

Parents are NEVER included in any equation or discussion here (in education) – and that is sad!

jim d

April 23rd, 2009
2:52 pm

Some folks just don’t understand the concepts of freedom and liberty. They just want to suckle at the teat of government.

Teacher, Too

April 23rd, 2009
3:38 pm

This is way, way off topic, but I had this discussion with a colleague today. One of our 6th grade students is very large. She looks like a grown women- tall and quite a bit overweight. I would go so far to say she’s obese for her age. She can barely fit into a generous-sized desk.

What does one do? This is similar to the travel blog question about obese customers having to buy two seats. Are schools going to have to buy extra-large desks to go with extra-large students? I’m not trying to be mean or disrespectful, isn’t it reasonable that a 6th grader should be able to sit into a very generous desk– and this child isn’t the only one; there’s another 6th grader in the same class that has difficulty sitting in a desk.

These are not the tiny little wooden desks that I used to have to sit in twenty years ago, either.

I apologize about the rant, but this is bothersome to me, especially since the student has a very difficult time sitting still during testing.

flipper

April 23rd, 2009
5:18 pm

Teacher… maybe your school should consider letting the kids out a bit for some recess or PE. I am always amazed as I watch the kids in our middle school pork out in 6th grade b/c the principal has decided that recess and PE are no longer necessary for young adolescents. I guess she figures that the kids do jumping jacks on the bus on the way home from school

It’s sad.

DB

April 23rd, 2009
5:43 pm

Reality – I can guarantee you that there is a lot more to the incident than an 8 year old “suddenly” going ballistic. Anyone want to take bets that this is a case of mainstreaming that went awry?

Lee

April 23rd, 2009
5:48 pm

Oh good grief, it doesn’t matter whether or not a kid attends pre-k (or kindergarten for that matter) if the schools do not group by ability. They are still going to move at the same, state mandated pace.

Yes, it’s great fun to brag about the little one reading before they enter first grade. Then, by the third grade, the school is pushing to get them on Rytalin because they can’t focus due to the fact they are bored shitless.

Off topic, anyone else read the AJC article about the first grader getting arrested because she repeatedly hit the teacher? Kid was eight years old in the first grade. Whatchawannabet she was a sped kid?

jim d

April 24th, 2009
10:53 am

5% cause 95% of problems.

So what odds you offering?

catlady

April 24th, 2009
4:32 pm

I would bet the Athens kid was, thanks to RTI, an UNDIAGNOSED AND UNASSISTED sp ed kid. And will continue to be unleashed, when she is allowed back in school (I see she was released to her mother) on every kid and adult in her path.

As a former K teacher for 20 years, I am still not convinced pre k does much good except a) give some adults more free time or b)get kids out of disfunctional homes for a while. Let’s face it, adding pre k to the lottery was a way to get it passed. Pure and simple.

In our area, 70% of the public school prek kids are Latino: American citizens themselves, of illegal immigrant parents. The middle class white kids usually go to First Baptist pre k. For its civilizing effects, I support pre k. I would be happier if the teachers were all ECE certified.

I doubt my daughter, a teacher, will send my granddaughter to public school prek.

catlady

April 24th, 2009
4:38 pm

I left out c)provide free day care for working parents. However, in my area, I would guess less than half the kids in prek have a working mother unable to care for them. Few of the Latino mothers work, and many of the white mothers have long bouts of unemployment. (We have no black mothers).

What I see going on in pre k, the unwritten curriculum, is a replication of social class. It DOEs help the Latino kids learn English, and it helps many of the kids learn basic concepts of group membership. Lessons which, I think, could easily be postponed for a year (how to line up, how to take your turn, how to carry your tray, how to think you are not the only one in the room, etc.)

ScienceTeacher671

April 24th, 2009
5:30 pm

If I remember correctly, Pre-K started out being for the high-poverty kids who, according to research, would benefit from such a program…

Then the middle class parents got upset because poor kids were getting “free day care” so it was eventually opened up for everyone.

Am I right or wrong?

catlady

April 24th, 2009
6:31 pm

Scienceteacher671: sorta like the HOPE scholarship, which had a generous upper cutoff for receipt (as I recall $200,000 per year) but also a NEGATIVE income cap: students who got Pell (due to poverty) were not eligible for HOPE.

Lori

April 25th, 2009
9:34 pm

“Lee” good comment! I spent over $12,000 putting my first son in a over the top Pre-K program in Washington DC taught by teachers who made over $50,000+ a year!!! Well my son was “ahead” of other Kindergartners for about 6 months then he averaged out. Now in 3rd grade he is well above his other classmates but that has nothing to do with his schooling, but with him and only him. I truly believe that his Pre-K did absolutely NOTHING for him. My second son will go to his regular 3 day 3 hour “mommies morning out” until he goes to Kindergarten and he will turn out just fine. IQ, maturity and a loving homelife are the number one factors in my opinion.

But I do support getting low income children out of bad situations if that is what is happening. I also have no problems with spanish speaking children getting extra help. Hispanic families MOST of the time are hard workers, family oriented, and take school VERY seriously. If they want to succeed I see no reason to not help them do that.

Just A Citizen

April 28th, 2009
6:37 pm

Moms have to be careful though. There are a lot of day care centers that are not approved for the space, curriculum, teachers, and etc. and sadly this includes churches. I’ve sent my kids to several places but in the end had to find a center that had everything approved and had the GA pre-k program. I believe that those that have the GA pre-k program are those that have everything approved by the fire marshal, state, and local. It is not just for the program but for the safety of our children.

Another Ga Pre-K Teacher

September 20th, 2009
6:18 pm

Well, some of you are not seeing what I see. As one blogger has said above me that the children are in school from 7-2…
I am here to say that there are children at school (I am in a private Center that offers Ga. Pre-K) as early as 6:30 am (I do not arrive til 7:00 am. and the kids are still at school when I leave at 3:30. They wind up staying until 6:00 pm. When do these parents ever see their children? If the parents’ do go to work then their clothes look like pajamas to me. Pitiful.
I agree with the blog that stated that Ga. Pre-K BFTS should not be paying consultants to sneak up on teachers to see if we have 250 unit blocks, the paint is open and that we have a second running theme somewhere in the classroom. Plus, I am doing 6 – 8 page lesson plans that are for who to see? Not my students’ parents. They barely step foot into the room. It is to make the consultant seem important. She looks at my detailed lessom plan and tells me they are not detailed enough. I need to put the lyrics of the songs we sing on my LP. WHAT? My students do not read!!!!!! Why do I need this info on my LP? The consultants are power crazy and ridiculous. Keep the consultants out of my classroom. These are 4 and 5 year old little kids.
Plus, I am not allowed to teach anything. I am to “introduce” everything to them.
What?! I am a “TEACHER” not an “Introducer”. The Training Seminars and other classes we drive long distances to attend are a joke. As an educated person I have to sit for 8 hours while someone tells me how to sing a goofy song and make slime. it gets more ridiculous than that. Believe me!!
The whole Ga. Pre-K Program needs to be looked at by new eyes. Listen to the teachers not the consultants and others behind the desks.

Liz

August 3rd, 2010
10:05 am

Im sorry, but I could not disagree more. My son, who is now in 10th grade attended Pre-school, my 6 yr old attended as well and I can’t wait to put my 3 yr old in. They learn social skills, they have fun and they learn to express themselves. Both of my kids are great students now and they have wonderful memories of Pre-K. While there are some parents who’s goal is to just “drop off” their children I don’t believe that is the majority. All of us parents in my daughters class were very involved, there were field trips and dance programs, art shows, Halloween parades and so much more. I am so glad that a program like this exists to allow my kids to settle into the classroom experience from being at home.

I don’t know about other moms, but I never had a moment to go to the tennis court!

ellen

August 3rd, 2010
1:26 pm

how do you find a pre-k? The board of education said henry county does not have a pre-k——c’mon is this right?

Maureen Downey

August 3rd, 2010
1:31 pm

@Ellen, Pre-k can be offered through the schools or through a private provider that has state approved slots. The state web site lists lots of Henry pre-k sites

http://decal.ga.gov/ProviderSearch/SiteList.aspx?pn=&c=Henry&z=&st=P