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Ross proposes expanding pre-K program

By The Associated Press

This article was published April 2, 2014 at 12:18 p.m.


Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Mike Ross explains his proposed state income tax plan at a Little Rock news conference Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014.

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Mike Ross is proposing to expand Arkansas' prekindergarten program and make it accessible to every 4-year-old in the state, a plan he says will eventually cost an additional $37.4 million a year.

Ross detailed his plan Wednesday to expand the Arkansas Better Chance program, which has seen its funding remain flat over the past several years. Ross said his proposal would gradually increase funding for the program to make it available to every 4-year-old by 2025.

Ross' proposal didn't offer a specific timeline, and he said it would be based on available revenue.

Ross is a former congressman running against substitute teacher Lynette Bryant for the Democratic nomination. Former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson and Little Rock businessman Curtis Coleman are seeking the Republican nomination.


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Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 total comments

lazyman says... April 2, 2014 at 4:18 p.m.

Just great! More, bigger government. From the womb to the tomb.

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Populist says... April 2, 2014 at 4:35 p.m.

I think that it is more important to spend money reaching the 10 to 14 year old crowd. If they are not reading well then, they need extra support. Keeping them in educational and recreational programs at this age is important to keep them out of trouble. Too many kids are sitting around playing with guns and taking drugs in the summer. Head Start type programs only work if the programs following them are strong. Trying to get 4 year olds to read is a waste of money.

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Dontcallmenames says... April 2, 2014 at 4:39 p.m.

Because parents are too stupid to raise kids like Dumbocrats want and kids need to be indoctrinated as soon as possible into the liberal agenda.

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... April 2, 2014 at 4:42 p.m.

Another Washington retread. Mike, go home.

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HotSpringsLawyer says... April 2, 2014 at 5:11 p.m.

Pre-K is a very helpful asset for children. And it helps narrow the "Fischer-Price" advantage.

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JakeTidmore says... April 2, 2014 at 8:48 p.m.

Here's an excerpt on the impact of early childhood education that focuses, in part, on outcome in Arkansas:

"Multiple people with experience in elementary schools said they could identify which kids in a kindergarten classroom had pre-school and which had not.

"The research is strong," said Rich Huddleston, executive director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. "For low-income and at-risk kids, if you don't get to them early and if they start school behind, it's less likely that they're going to catch up to their peers."

Brain development is happening rapidly before a child ever sets foot in kindergarten — neurologists have found that 85 percent of a child's intellect, personality and social skills are developed by age 5. A 2010 study from the Arkansas Legislative Taskforce on Reducing Poverty found that at-risk children enter kindergarten 18-36 months behind their peers (which also has ripple effects on other students as teachers try to catch them up).

A wealth of research suggests that high-quality early education can help to close that gap and can have a major impact on the future of low-income kids. Controlling for demographics, children that went to high-quality pre-K score higher on math, language and literacy tests when they enter kindergarten. They are less likely to require special education, less likely to repeat a grade, more likely to finish high school, and more likely to go to college. High-quality pre-K reduces the overall cost of educating a child in the K-12 system and can have long-lasting economic impacts for society on the workforce, the social welfare system, the criminal justice system and the healthcare system.

"People argue about the short-to-medium term outcomes of Head Start, but there are things that are clear and hold up over time," said Dr. Charles Feild, executive director of the UAMS Head Start program. "We know that for kids that have done Head Start there's less teen pregnancy, there's less crime, and there's a lower high-school dropout rate. If you want to look at return on investment — those are pretty good returns."

Studies have also attempted to quantify that return, and found that for every dollar invested in high-quality pre-school, the nation gets up to $7, or even more, back over the long term (better programs, with higher upfront costs, yield better returns). James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, has found that "every dollar invested in quality early childhood development for disadvantaged children produces a 7 percent to 10 percent return, per child, per year," which he notes would beat the stock market. In a 2010 letter to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Reform, Heckman wrote, "Early Head Start and Head Start are programs on which to build and improve — not to cut."

So...the losers here who know nothing about education vomit up their usual nonsense. What a pathetic bunch of useless pukes. Name calling is too good for you louses.

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Populist says... April 2, 2014 at 9:15 p.m.


Ad hominem attacks are fallacious. The source for your support that Head Start works is the executive director of Head Start? There is a nice article on Head Start in the March 5th Washington Post which suggests that Head Start certainly does not hurt, but it may not be worth the expense. Based upon my own experience and my experience with disadvantaged children and my own children, I think that improving reading fluency in the middle years is more important than teaching a child their ABCs early. A fair number of children suffer from neurological problems or emotional problems in the more formative years. A simple $3,000 testing evaluation of 5th graders usually can determine what the child needs in terms of extra tutoring or help with a specific form of dyslexia. Even a child who cannot read well by 4th grade can excel if given the right form of help. These really are the important years for learning. Little ones need play and creativity. I am not against Head Start; I just think spending more money later can produce a bigger bang for the buck. More later....the family needs me.

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3rdWorldState says... April 2, 2014 at 9:16 p.m.

Jake, you made a monumental mistake with this group. You brought in evidence. Facts don't work with this group.
No one understands what an investment means anymore. Unless it's a pf9 or a 1911.

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FarmBoy says... April 3, 2014 at 12:22 a.m.

Like a liberal politician promising things to get votes. Money that is not his and hope will not ever be. We need someone that wants to shrink spending and not blow it off. Beebe promised no tax on groceries but has not delivered it all. People that make a living full time being a politician need to be gone.

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