Ohio must do better for our children

Lawmakers — well, most of them, anyway — are working to do better for Ohio’s children. A recent study suggests there still is much to do, at least when it comes to our preschool-aged students. Rutgers University’s Institute for Early Education Research studied early childhood education across the country, and found the Buckeye State ranks 36th for preschool enrollment at age 4, with 10 percent enrolled; and 27th for those at age 3, with 2 percent enrolled.

Ohio also ranks 36th for state spending and 42nd for all reported spending. Ohio’s state spending per child enrolled in preschool was down $332 in 2022 from the previous school year.

“Ohio should assess its support for preschool against neighbors and other states that provide much stronger support for access, quality standards, and funding per child. Ohio’s young children deserve no less than others,” W. Steven Barnett Ph.D., NIEER’s senior co-director, said, according to the Ohio Capital Journal.

We also are meeting only five of the 10 quality standards benchmarks set by the study: early learning and development standards; curriculum supports; teacher specialized training; screening and referral; and continuous quality improvement system.

To be fair to those in Columbus, there does seem to be a fresh sense of urgency for improving education and our children’s chance at success here. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will get $48 million in federal funding over the next three years for improving access to early childhood care and education.

But the Rutgers study must serve as a reminder of how far we have to go. Those who are working to turn around our less-than-mediocre enrollment figures must maintain momentum. We don’t want to be doing the bare minimum for Ohio kids. We want to be giving them every opportunity to succeed. After all, our future is in their hands.



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