www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

The defining issue of economic recovery -7/27/2014, 4:53 PM

In a world of sectarian violence, what can be done? -7/27/2014, 4:53 PM

Funding DHDC -7/27/2014, 1:18 PM

Endorsement for Shultz -7/25/2014, 3:28 PM

Against the wind -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Do blacks need favors? -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Vote Huelskamp out -7/25/2014, 4:23 PM

Open meetings -7/24/2014, 8:07 AM

Leadership change needed -7/24/2014, 8:07 AM

Vote for Huelskamp -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

Protecting unborn children -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

Learning experience valuable -7/24/2014, 8:06 AM

False equivalence -7/23/2014, 8:07 AM

Measles' scary comeback -7/23/2014, 1:27 PM

The 'big data' deal -7/23/2014, 10:07 AM

GOP can't get out of its own way -7/23/2014, 10:07 AM

War only will add to Middle East problems -7/22/2014, 8:10 AM

Avoiding taxes -7/22/2014, 8:10 AM

Take the win in Iran -7/21/2014, 8:57 AM

The high court's high-handedness -7/21/2014, 8:57 AM

Up in arms in the Capitol -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Firefighters weigh in on pay raise -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Backpacks for Kids -7/20/2014, 4:52 PM

Our unwillingness to defend ourselves -7/18/2014, 10:51 AM

Remembering a man who championed freedom -7/18/2014, 10:51 AM

GOP split -7/17/2014, 8:38 AM

New Kansas senator -7/17/2014, 8:37 AM

Who'll build the roads? -7/17/2014, 8:37 AM

Reagan: In or out? -7/16/2014, 2:45 PM

'Unbroken' WWII vet more than a hero -7/16/2014, 2:44 PM

Savor the fruits of your labor -7/16/2014, 2:44 PM

Erasing candidate's standards -7/15/2014, 11:36 AM

Returning to Trail Wood -7/15/2014, 10:13 AM

Leaving some in 'suspense' -7/15/2014, 10:13 AM

Strangers in a remarkable land -7/14/2014, 9:11 AM

Courageous or spineless? Our actions decide -7/14/2014, 9:11 AM

Ambition: An unlikely gift to Kansas voters -7/13/2014, 11:16 AM

Beyond the outrage -7/13/2014, 11:16 AM

Water watch -7/13/2014, 11:16 AM

Scenic outlooks -7/11/2014, 9:18 AM

China's research trumps teaching -7/11/2014, 9:17 AM

Important slow news -7/10/2014, 9:42 AM

We've got a promise to keep -7/10/2014, 9:33 AM

The white combine calls -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Vote for family values -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Politicians making a mockery of my faith -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Missing tribute -7/9/2014, 10:02 AM

Rural students deserve 21st Century education -7/8/2014, 9:10 AM

The education table dance -7/8/2014, 9:10 AM

A new virus -7/8/2014, 9:10 AM

Government as God -7/7/2014, 9:38 AM

EPA affecting others -7/7/2014, 9:38 AM

'Narrow' decision from the narrow-minded -7/7/2014, 9:38 AM

The tax trap -7/6/2014, 4:35 PM

Rulings produce 'First Amendment fireworks' -7/6/2014, 4:35 PM

Firefighter salaries -7/6/2014, 4:35 PM

Economic freedom -7/4/2014, 11:54 AM

Protecting our independence -7/4/2014, 11:54 AM

Dan Johnson, 1936-2014 -7/3/2014, 7:12 AM

New Iraq offensive backfires -7/3/2014, 7:11 AM

Setting things straight -7/3/2014, 7:11 AM

'Crapitalism' -7/3/2014, 7:11 AM

Feeding peace throughout the world -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Half way is still only half way -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Sherow a better choice -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Fireworks, part II -7/2/2014, 9:01 AM

Reality show made in Topeka -7/1/2014, 8:53 AM

The justices and their cellphones -7/1/2014, 8:53 AM

LOB defeated -7/1/2014, 8:53 AM

Tragedy explored in 'Broken Heart Land' -6/30/2014, 9:14 AM

Mexico City: The adventure continues -6/30/2014, 9:14 AM

Even our youngest Americans are citizens -6/29/2014, 12:58 PM

Ban on fireworks -6/29/2014, 12:58 PM

It's time to teach active citizenship -6/29/2014, 12:57 PM

The education establishment's success -6/27/2014, 10:39 AM

Piecework professors -6/27/2014, 10:39 AM

Marriage for all -6/27/2014, 10:39 AM

Prairie chicken madness -6/26/2014, 4:17 PM

Omission control -6/26/2014, 10:12 AM

Equal in the eyes of the law -6/26/2014, 10:12 AM

Help wanted -6/26/2014, 10:12 AM

The old red barn -6/25/2014, 9:19 AM

Beware the unimaginable -6/25/2014, 9:19 AM

Early critic of school testing was right -6/24/2014, 8:53 AM

Finding something 'different' in Topeka -6/24/2014, 8:53 AM

Shopping small -6/24/2014, 8:53 AM

Into the classroom -6/23/2014, 8:55 AM

Wow! And thanks to you -6/23/2014, 8:55 AM

Fireworks double-standard -6/23/2014, 8:55 AM

Glass half full -6/22/2014, 5:57 PM

Brownback's experiment wallops taxpayers -6/22/2014, 5:56 PM

Examining the importance of 'where' we speak -6/22/2014, 5:56 PM

Slavery reparations -6/20/2014, 8:33 AM

'Help me plagiarize' -6/20/2014, 8:33 AM

Thank a farmer -6/20/2014, 8:33 AM

Here comes tomorrow -6/19/2014, 8:43 AM

Why Americans dislike soccer -6/19/2014, 8:43 AM

Switching to teaching -6/18/2014, 4:32 PM

Clinic closing good -6/17/2014, 9:59 AM

Other avenues -6/17/2014, 9:59 AM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Early education

Published on -8/25/2013, 9:12 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

Hays USD 489, and indeed all of the public schools in Ellis County, understand the critical value of early childhood education. The developmental specialists know the returns are great not only for the individual child but overall society as well.

489's Early Childhood Connections, which offers programs for children and parents alike, specializes in identifying and then servicing at-risk youth. The results of Head Start, Early Head Start and Parents as Teachers are readily apparent when looking at common benchmarks.

For example:

* The number of Early Head Start slots available per 100 children 0-3 is 39.68 in Ellis County, compared to 6.64 statewide.

* Head Start slots are 97.67 here; Kansas boasts only 45.07.

* Pre-kindergarten or Four-Year-Old At-Risk programs are available at 71.43 percent of elementary schools in Ellis County; there are 49.81 percent statewide.

* Reading proficiency by the fifth-grade is 94.12 percent here and 87.09 percent in Kansas.

* Percent of schools meeting Adequate Yearly Progress requirements is 100 percent in Ellis County and 79.57 percent statewide.

* Even local high school graduation rates are higher, 88.89 percent compared to 84.77 percent.

Not only do early intervention efforts yield results during school, as these 2012 Kids Count data from the Kansas Action for Children illustrate, they help outside the classroom as well. Compared to the entire state, Ellis County has fewer teen violent deaths, youth binge drinking incidents, mental health hospitalizations, infant mortality and low birthweight babies. Later in life, the early interventions help job performance skills and social behaviors, leading to decreases in incarceration costs, crime-related expenditures and economic inequality.

What's not to like about all those measurements?

And the Early Childhood Connections receives accolades regularly. Last year, director Donna Hudson-Hamilton was awarded both the state and national Head Start Association administrator of the year. This year, Rebecca Greer was named Kansas teacher of the year while participant Cindy Walters was given the Beating the Odds Parent Award.

The staff of 60 works collaboratively to better help at-risk kids and the community. Again, what's not to like?

Yet these early intervention efforts are losing the funding necessary to be successful. Cost-cutting efforts at the state and federal levels threaten to undermine the programs' proven results.

Sequestration that Congress imposed on the nation has reduced ECC's funding by 5 percent for this year. The loss of $75,000 will mean two fewer children in Early Head Start and seven fewer in Head Start.

"We've been cutting back, cutting back, cutting back, and at some point, there's just no place to cut back besides the number that you're serving," Hudson-Hamilton said.

Nationally, sequestration is forcing more than 57,000 low-income children to be dropped from Head Start programs.

In Kansas, funding for the Kansas Endowment for Youth is raided by the Legislature through transfers to the state general fund. Almost $140 million has been taken from the CIF in recent years, depriving groups that conduct this critical work. That endowment, which has been paid for with tobacco settlement dollars, is expecting to decline significantly in 2018.

Congress is at least considering a $10 billion annual plan to target early childhood education efforts. While the gridlock in Washington prevents most commonsense legislation from moving forward, we would hope our elected leaders will see the value in this initiative. Threatening it, of course, will be tea party factions and others bent on starving government at all levels. Their pervasive argument is that by third grade, all of the academic advantages early education provides disappears and scores are equivalent from that point forward.

We would remind that the early intervention helped alleviate all the extra attention those kids would need in later years. Teachers and administrators don't have to spend as much time on remedial education if these at-risk children are paid attention to early.

We would hope elected officials in both Washington and Topeka come to the conclusion early childhood education works -- so programs such as Early Childhood Connections can continue providing their outstanding efforts.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos