Glad I’m not a 4-year-old …

… at least not a four-year-old living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.  If you’re in the 34 percent of Montanans that fall into that category, you’re out of luck if you want to send your kid to preschool.

That’s because Montana Republican legislators sent our congressional delegation a letter urging it to reject $40 million in federal preschool grant funding.  One of the reasons to reject the funding, according to the letter, is it might hurt private preschools.  But the funding would go to kids who can’t afford private preschools, so that point seems moot.

Is preschool that important?  Research indicates it is:

Statistics show that a majority of kids attend at least one year of preschool: According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), more than two-thirds of 4-year-olds and more than 40 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled in a preschool in 2005. “Children who attend high-quality preschool enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills than those who do not,” says NIEER director W. Steven Barnett, PhD.”

It should be noted that Republican candidate for superintendent of public schools, Billings Sen. Elsie Arntzen, signed the letter.  Also, Montana’s two Republicans in Congress, Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Ryan Zinke, aren’t fond of the funding, although their statements to the press seem rather nebulous:

Representatives from Daines’ and Zinke’s offices confirmed that they received the letter and emphasized local control in brief, emailed statements.

“Sen. Daines understands the importance of strengthening our education system and shares the goals of improving early-childhood education,” a statement said. “However, he is concerned that current federal initiatives have failed to close the long-term achievement gap between many students.”

Democrtic Sen. Tester doesn’t agree:

“Unfortunately, there are folks who don’t think our kids are worth it and would rather privatize education, making it only accessible to those who can easily afford it.”

If you’re a kid whose parents can afford to send you to a quality preschool, you’re ahead of the game.  If not, maybe you can find a Republican legislator who will tutor you after classes when you fall behind in elementary school.


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About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.


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      • Cato? really? a right wing group? can you show me what primary and secondary education professionals reside in Cato Swede? Because there are none. Andrew Coulson has no educational prowess in these fields…. apparently never a teacher/ educator himself? just a guy with an education for himself and writing skills?

        If your gonna pick people to make your argument stronger, could you for at least point to one who has actually been in the trenches? and not some critic who refuses to use Behavioral Science to make his point.

        HighScope’s approach has a positive effect in Head Start programs

        What headstart helps most is females. another reason for the GOP to close it completely since they want women back in the kitchen pregnant and barefoot. Headstart is a serious tool that allows the feminine side of America to prosper. The republicans cant have there war on women cut short by education.

        Head Start does its job. The program gets at-risk children ready for kindergarten in every aspect the study measured. After one year in Head Start, children showed gains in vocabulary, letter-word identification, mathematics and social-emotional development compared with peers. In addition, parents involved with the program used more appropriate discipline and spent more time engaging in literacy activities with their children.

        Get a life Swede it is working. and stop with the Bogus Cato crap. Owned by the Kochs their one job in life is to make Americans mindless drones….. Kinda like you?

          • Please use a comma after someone’s name, Swede. For a moment there, I started googling the name Norma Cato.
            Seriously … as usual, the Cato Institute picked the statistics it liked and disregarded the ones it didn’t. Here’s some real research on Head Start’s benefits:
            The conclusion is that Head Start helps all kids but that the academic benefits to African-Americans diminish by the third grade as opposed to white Americans. I imagine there are many external factors as to why that happens. However, increased access to preventative health care is enjoyed by all kids participating in Head Start. That alone should justify the program.

          • We worked with less Information on the Atom Bomb and the internet. Dig deeper Swede the government jobs shines when they take theory and make stuff possible… like going to the moon, and flying to Mars. You think too small and you can’t explain away all the other good that has come about from the above products Government shares with corporations.

            The Horse and Buggy are still available to you at anytime Swede, you can always get away from all the medical advances, scientific fact you want by burying yourself under a rock. … But I kind of believe you just do a lot of crying over nothing just like the GOP and their conspiracies.

        • Not only is that exactly what happened Pete but Cato purposly left out longer studies, that prove Headstart” positive productivity! Swedes problem is just like Catos they leave out all the pro points on just about any writing they do for the Koch brothers and corporations. Skewed is the new normal for conservatives

          • By the Swede, do yourself a favor and read the report. from the paper you use as eveidence is this: “We do not yet know if there will be positive outcomes for HSIS participants later in
            life, however, research suggests that positive outcomes later in life are possible. Despite a
            growing body of research about relatively rapid dissipation of early cognitive impacts, there is
            some evidence suggesting that positive effects of Head Start may have an impact on participants’
            later life such as later school success and early adulthood outcomes (Garces, et al., 2002; Ludwig
            & Miller, 2007; Deming, 2009). Garces, Thomas, and Currie (2000) conducted a nonexperimental
            study that reported evidence of long-term improvement for Head Start participants
            on outcomes such as school attainment, earnings and crime reduction, for some race and gender
            combinations. Ludwig and Miller (2007), using a regression discontinuity design, reported that
            increases in Head Start funding were associated with a decline in mortality rates for children
            ages five to nine from causes of death that could be affected by the program, an increase in high
            school completion, and an increase in the likelihood of attending some college.”

          • Yeah, let’s take 40 million of taxpayer dollars for “unknown outcomes” and “some evidence of positive outcomes”.
            Regardless of the fact that these monies will force schools to prepare more rooms in crowded schools which have recently added full time kindergarden classes.

  • The HeadStart program was/is not designed to make and/or keep kids ahead of their peers for life. It was designed to get them up to grade level for primary grades so that they would be prepared to participate with their peers AT grade level when they reached the primary grades after kindergarden/grades 1&2. It was never designed to make these kids into wunderkind who would exceed all other children for the rest of their lives so all of you looking for those kinds of outcomes are doomed to be disappointed.

    Furthermore, HeadStart is block-grant funded by Congress, which means that while there are a certain millions of kids who are eligible by income level, they are not automatically enrolled. Congress only usually allocates money to fund about 50% of the elegible kids into the program. And with sequestration in place since the Crash, that number has fallen every year since 2007. Kids may be “elegible” by income, by funded is an entirely different matter altogether. I have been out of social services for a number of years now, and have no idea what the funding levels are now, but I would guess they are pretty low now.

    HS is a great program. But it is hampered greatly by a huge lack of funding. And an even greater lack of understanding of its mission and goals.

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