Another year, another negative review for VPK
The National Institute for Early Education Research has once again put Florida at the back of the class when it comes to high-quality prekindergarten programs.
In a report released today, the organization noted that Florida met just four of 10 standards the group considers critical to a strong pre-k experience. Five other states also met four of the benchmarks, and one met three.
Most notably, the group mentioned that Florida is joined by only Ohio and and California in not requiring pre-k teachers to have the same experience as public school teachers. The state also rated 34th of 38 states with programs in terms of per-student funding. On the positive side, it rated 2nd in terms of percentage of eligible children served.
"The only difference about our grade this year is that instead of Pennsylvania being below us, Kansas is," said Linda Alexionok of the Children's Campaign, which has been pushing for improvements to the pre-k program since its inception.
Alexionok argued that having large percentages of children in the program focuses on quantity vs. quality, and that's not going to help the state or its children. The Children's Campaign continues to support legislation that would require pre-k teachers to have degrees by 2013.
Gov. Charlie Crist has voiced his support for tougher qualifications for pre-k teachers. But earlier this month, his Agency for Workforce Innovation director, Monesia Brown, wrote an op-ed for the Tallahassee Democrat in which she praised the program's quality and mentioned nothing about teacher credentials.