Early Childhood Education

Kyle Green / Idaho Statesman

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting every aspect of our nation, state and economy. It’s also exposing shortcomings and inequalities in job security, health care access, and now, childcare. 

student, desk, classroom
BionicTeaching / Flickr Creative Commons

It’s a final four of sorts, but it has nothing to do with basketball.

Idaho and Wyoming are now among only four states that do not fund preschool, according to a new report from the Education Commission of the States.


Treasure Valley Poised To Open First Children's Museum

Jun 22, 2018
via Facebook

Meridian is preparing for the opening of the Children's Museum of Idaho in November. Exhibits will be geared toward children two to eight and will encourage family interaction with accomodations for vistors of all abilities. There will even be a screen-free zone where visitors are urged to unplug their digital devices. In this segment of Idaho Matters, we talk with two of the museum's founders about what to expect from the valley's first children's museum.

The belief that with hard work, prosperity and success are open to everyone, is at the heart of our national identity. Yet, according to today’s guest, Robert Putnam, the gap between those who have the chance to forge a better future, and those who are being left behind, is getting wider. As a result “our kids,” America’s poorest among them, are experiencing a transformation of American society that comes at a cost to every one of us.

Tim Lauer / Flickr Creative Commons

The Nampa school district will offer full-day, every-day kindergarten classes at some elementary schools in the fall.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that enrollment is open for full-time kindergarten at three Nampa-area schools.

District officials say full-day kindergarten classes will allow teachers to focus on developing social skills and participation as well as the academic lessons shorter schedules focus on.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation this week released its annual Kids Count Data Book, which examines children’s well being across the country.

The 2015 numbers show Idaho continues to lag in pre-school offerings.

Nearly 70 percent of children don’t attend school until kindergarten. That’s something that concerns Idaho Kids Count Director Lauren Necochea.

This interview was broadcast first in January of 2013.

A child who heads off to kindergarten without knowing his colors or shapes may be considered academically unprepared for school.  But what if those measures mattered less, and the child's character mattered more?

Corie Howell / Flickr Creative Commons

Boise State University’s Andrus Center for Public  Policy and the University of Idaho’s McClure Center for Public Policy have teamed up to host a conference on early childhood education in Idaho. It’s Monday at Garden City’s Riverside Hotel.  

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

On Monday, two Idaho Republicans will tiptoe into a public preschool debate the state's Legislature hasn't been willing to confront. Idaho is one of 10 states without public preschool.

Reps. Patrick McDonald, R-Boise, and Christy Perry, R-Nampa, are introducing a preschool pilot program they're calling "kindergarten preparedness."

Boise Schools, City Team Up To Launch Public Preschool

Feb 11, 2015
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The city of Boise and the Boise School District are teaming up to offer preschool as part of the city's Vista Neighborhood Project pilot program. Over a number of years, the city is putting several million dollars into this one part of town in hopes of transforming the relatively-poor neighborhood.

Diana Lachiondo with Boise’s mayor’s office says research shows preschool is good for communities.

Attending state-funded prekindergarten substantially reduces the likelihood that students will end up in special education programs later on, according to a new study by researchers at Duke University.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Another attempt at establishing public preschool in Idaho will likely be introduced this month in the state Legislature. Idaho is one of only a handful of states that doesn’t have statewide public preschool. Many lawmakers object to it on philosophical grounds, despite strong evidence it’s good for student success.

Idaho Legislature

A bill to launch a preschool pilot program in Idaho has won the support of the House Education Committee.

The pilot would provide half-day educational programs in five Idaho schools, with potential to expand if data shows it gets kids ready for kindergarten.

It carries a $1.4 million price tag for all three years, but Boise Democrat Rep. Hy Kloc stressed Monday less than half of that will come from the state's coffers.

The rest will likely come from grants.

P-16 preschool class Caldwell
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Advocates for state-supported preschool hope to tackle the issue amid increased interest in changing Idaho's public education system.

One Democratic lawmaker will be pushing a $1.4 million pilot program during the 2014 Legislature.

And the Idaho Statesman reports Beth Oppenheimer, of Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, believes more people are recognizing that taxpayer-financed preschool education programs are sorely missing from the state's education offerings.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Republican Tim Corder served two terms in Idaho’s state Senate. During that time, the farmer and truck driver became a hero to pre-kindergarten advocates and earned the ire of some of his colleagues. Corder's legislative career ended last year when he lost his primary race to a more conservative opponent. I met him last summer as he was packing up his senate office. Here is an excerpt of our conversation.

Q: How would you characterize your support for early childhood education during your time in the legislature?

Tom Luna
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho is one of just 10 states that don’t have a state-supported preschool program. As we’ve examined the reasons for that this week, we’ve heard from some pre-k opponents. Here we go deeper into their arguments.

President Obama Kindergarten Class
Pete Souza / The White House Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama’s proposal to expand early childhood education could bring nearly $20 million to Idaho the first year. The president has been talking about increasing access to pre-kindergarten education for months and has proposed raising tobacco taxes to pay for it.

P-16 preschool class Caldwell
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho is one of just 10 states that do not have state-wide pre-kindergarten. But some school districts are finding ways to provide early childhood education. In Caldwell, public and private partners are trying a novel strategy that supporters hope will transform children’s futures.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Forty U.S. states offer pre-kindergarten programs.  Idaho is not one of them.  Here, about one third of 3 and 4-year-olds attend a public or private preschool.  But none attend one that’s funded or sanctioned by the state. However, that doesn't stop some school districts from offering pre-k programs of their own.

Map: Idaho Is One Of 10 States Without Public Preschool

Jun 4, 2013
Preschool Map Thumbnail
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho is one of 10 states that doesn't offer public preschool to children. Over the next few days we'll examine why the Gem State doesn't have free pre-k, what impact that's having on kids, and the current discussion around early childhood education in Idaho.

But first, here's a map that shows the 10 states without public preschool. The states shaded in coral don't offer preschool. One thing we noticed, they're mostly concentrated in the West. Use the zoom and arrow tools to move around the map and explore.