Florida's pre-K system serves many, but is it worth it?
To paraphrase from A Chorus Line, it's access 2, resources 34 for Florida's Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) system, according to the latest national review of pre-K programs by the National Institute for Early Education Research.
Sure, Florida serves nearly 150,000 4-year-olds, the group says, but it poorly funds the program. It also meets only three of 10 quality benchmarks the NIEER sets forth as indicative of a strong pre-K education.
Florida has a comprehensive set of standards, acceptable class sizes and regular monitoring of classrooms, according to the report. It falls short in the areas of teacher credentials, teacher training and teacher-student ratios, though.
Though the report is new, the analysis is the same as it ever was since Florida began offering VPK five years ago. Critics have frequently commented that VPK was lacking in quality, and lawmakers have done nothing to change the laws underpinning the program since the original legislation. They have, meanwhile, slightly trimmed funding.