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Pre-K Pilot Receives First Legislative "OK"

PHOTO: The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children has issued a report making connections between K-through-12 and preschool, urging state investment in high-quality early learning. Photo courtesy of Deborah C. Smith.
PHOTO: The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children has issued a report making connections between K-through-12 and preschool, urging state investment in high-quality early learning. Photo courtesy of Deborah C. Smith.
March 5, 2014

BOISE, Idaho - The Idaho Legislature has agreed to look at a proposal for a pilot pre-Kindergarten program. The move is receiving kudos from the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children.

Executive Director Beth Oppenheimer said the group put together a report outlining the benefits of high-quality early education, and how they align with the state's goals for K through 12. They focused on STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math subjects, closing the achievement gap and improving reading skills.

"We have to stop looking at them as either/or," she said, "and we have to start looking at it as a continuum. As all one big piece."

A bill proposing a three-year pilot has been approved for printing. The bill would mean pre-K would be offered in five public schools and there would be a study of the outcomes.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise.

Oppenheimer pointed out that it has bipartisan support, along with additional backing from businesses and law enforcement.

"There is no 'magic bullet,' she said "I don't believe that early childhood is going to fix all of our problems, but it has be included in the whole continuum of education."

Opponents have said this isn't the time for pre-K in Idaho, citing concerns about future costs of public pre-K offerings.

See the report on pre-K at the Idaho Kids Count website.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID