- While K-12 education is funded through fairly consistent models across the states, pre-k funding varies drastically, with larger city school districts often funding programs through various tax revenues and rural schools often left with little or no local funding sources, District Administration reports.
- However, school administrators do have some control of over federal funds, such as Title I and Title II funds which can be used to support pre-k initiatives, and funding to serve pre-k students with disabilities, which can sometimes be used creatively to “reverse mainstream” by bringing in non-special needs students to model social and academic learning in the classroom.
- District administrators also may want to look at partnering with existing early education programs in the community, such as child care and faith-based groups, which are already receiving local, state, or federal resources.
Though most Americans favor increased federal funding for preschool education, many budget-strapped states fund preschool at a low percentage or not at all. Federal Title I funds have been the mainstay of pre-k education for many school districts, though these funds are limited. Under the new ESSA act, however, states will be granted greater flexibility with Title II funds and should be able to shift more of those funds to professional development for pre-k teachers.
Research shows that children learn better when they have quality early learning experiences, but many children growing up in low-income homes miss out on such opportunities because their parents lack the time, resources, or capacity to support their children's learning, a factor that creates a cultural divide in education from the beginning. Schools need to reach out to parents to let them know how to help their children learn at home or how to access low-cost or free early learning options.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is through the growing number of early childhood partnerships such as the Down East Partnership for Children in eastern North Carolina. Partnerships such as these coordinate the efforts of schools and child care providers and help parents find affordable placements, often funded by state or local resources. Such organizations also provide information to parents about the importance of the early years and often offer parenting classes to improve child outcomes. These partnerships are also in a better position to ensure quality in early-childhood education programs in the area and to elicit funding through grants and business partnerships.