Statewide preschool accessibility program launching in Idaho

Posted at 7:31 PM, Oct 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-10 21:31:38-04

The foundation for academic success starts as early as four years old, and parents say our state just isn't cutting it. 

Idaho ranks last in the country for kindergarten readiness according to Idaho Assoc. For the Education of Young Children.

"We have children entering without ever having held a book, without ever having held a crayon, without the emotional skills they need to be successful," said executive director Beth Oppenheimer. 

Today the Boise based non-profit launched a new venture called Preschool The Idaho Way. It will offer preschool options to more than ten communities in both rural and urban areas of Idaho. 

"We know that communities in Grangeville are a very different community than in Boise, and what a preschool collaborative is going to look like in all of our different areas is going to look very different," said Oppenheimer. 

Bottom line, Idahoans want better preschool options. According to Idaho AEYC polls from this year, 85 percent of voters believe access to quality and affordable preschool options enhances future elementary school performance. Nearly 75 percent support the state investing in options. Idaho AEYC hopes this serves as a catalyst for policymakers to improve all early childhood education. 

Both gubernatorial candidates see the need to improve early childhood education, but they have different ideas on how to get there.

"I believe we need to make resources available to those school districts whether it be summer reading programs, whether it's programs to where we add reading coaches into the schools the issue is how do we get those kids reading proficiently by the end of the third grade," said Brad Little. 

"We can fix this ship and make sure we ride it in the direction of the people, but this is why it comes back to ensuring that our resources go towards education, so we're fully investing in our future," said Paulette Jordan.  

Idaho AEYC is implementing similar techniques in the new preschools to the collaborative ones already available in Idaho, such as in the Caldwell school district.