Dallas ISD Is Experimenting with Offering Pre-K to 3-Year-Olds

DISDKindergarteners.jpg
Stanton Stevens
This past spring, Dallas ISD rolled out a generally successful push for eligible families to sign their 4-year-olds up for pre-k. Early registration more than doubled, from 3,288 to 6,905, and while the increase in the number of kids who ultimately enrolled was slightly less impressive -- from about 9,000 to about 9,500 -- a 5.5 percent jump isn't bad.

DISD's pre-K expansion, though, is just getting started.

"What we're looking at this year is a heavier investment in preschool and also our early childhood [program]," Superintendent Mike Miles told Unfair Park last week.

Step one involves ensuring that DISD has the capacity to serve as many eligible 4-year-olds (i.e. those who qualify for free or reduced lunch, have limited English proficiency, are homeless, have been in foster care or have a parent on active duty in the military) as possible and making sure the program is solid through expanded professional development opportunities for pre-k teachers and coordination with outside partners. (Commit comes to mind.)

Alan Cohen, executive director of early childhood education at DISD, declined to project enrollment growth but says the district plans to add an additional 20 pre-k classrooms by the end of the 2014-15 school year, one of which will be at Mata Elementary just south of White Rock, which is being transformed into a Montessori school and will offer integrated classes with 3-,4-, and 5-year-olds.

(definitely looking at a couple of schools that we believe are probably going to have some capacity.....really only looking to pilot it in one or two schools one of the things is if we want to ....scaling and serving lots of three year olds have the curriculum in place....really want to do this in a small pilot in year one so not trying to provid

It's not as simple, though, as simply adding space. Last year, DISD had the capacity to teach an additional 800 4-year-olds, but the available slots aren't necessarily where the demand is, which is why some pre-k programs have waiting lists while others have empty seats. Also, some locations need more bilingual pre-k teachers while others need more general ed instructors.

"What we're trying to do is to be as strategic as possible," Cohen says. They will put space not only where demand currently exceeds supply but also where the district projects the population of children to grow.

In reality, though, Dallas 4-year-olds are pretty well served in terms of educational access, with 80 to 85 percent enrolled in Head Start, DISD or a nationally accredited private pre-k, meaning outreach efforts will quickly see diminishing returns. It's the 3-year-olds who stand to benefit the most from DISD's efforts.

According to a report from the National Institute for Early Education Research, just 15 percent of Texas 3-year-olds are enrolled in Head Start or a state-funded pre-k program. That figure doesn't include kids in high-quality private pre-k -- a not insubstantial number -- but it's low, about a fourth of what it is for 4-year-olds.

The funding is already there. The state of Texas has long offered districts the same $3,300-per-student for teaching eligible 3-year-olds as it offers for 4-year-olds, but DISD has never enrolled the younger children on any scale because, Cohen says, it has never fulfilled the prerequisite of having the capacity to teach all eligible 4-year-olds.

Next year, Cohen says, "we are going to pilot some 3-year-old classrooms in areas -- and only areas -- where there is excess capacity for 4-years-olds." Mata will be accepting 3-year-olds. Eventually, Cohen envisions a city in which all 3- and 4-year-olds have access to high-quality pre-k.

For a school district focused on improving long-term outcomes for students, it makes sense.

"It's really important that we get kids the kind of foundation that they need in early years," Cohen says. "Eighty-five percent of a child's brain development happens before the age of 5. The longer we wait, the more difficult, more expensive and less effective those interventions are going to be."

Given that, though, why wait until 3? Why not the cradle?

Miles says the cradle-to-college approach to education is appropriate. That said, "we still haven't had this full discussion with the board or the community. The question [right now] is can we enroll more 3-year-olds? Then there's questions of to what degree to invest in the 0-3 space."

It'll take a long and healthy back-and-forth, between parents, educators, and of course taxpayers, to answer them.

Correction: In our original post, we wrote that Harllee Elementary School in Oak Cliff and Frazier Elementary School in South Dallas would reopen to offer pre-k programs. They will not. The DISD board turned down a proposal to do so during the spring

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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36 comments
everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

I'm glad to see DISD embracing it's nature as daycare.


Here's the problem with state-run daycare under 5yo.  It only helps kids who already have several strikes against them.  It doesn't help middle class white kids with stable homes.  (That's not the problem.)  The problem is, you can't tell anyone that, because the only way the poor black kids from broken homes (who can actually benefit from it) get it is if the rich white people think they also need it.


Then, because the rich white people think they need it, most of the money goes to them, and they get super-nice super-useless pre-K (because their kids are going to have good outcomes in grade school regardless) and the poor black kids get shitty (but still better than nothing) pre-K with the money that is left.


All of it goes back to the nature of this.  It's just daycare.  It's not education.  A poor kid in a broken home gets a lot of benefit from going to someplace clean and organized where he gets a nutritious meal and sees a positive role model.  A middle class kid in an nuclear family?  Not so much.  He's better off staying at home and playing with other kids on his block.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

"Children who participate in high-quality prekindergarten programs require less special education and are less likely to repeat a grade or need child welfare services. Once these children enter the labor force, their incomes are higher, along with the taxes they will pay back to society. Both as juveniles and as adults, these children are less likely to engage in criminal activity thereby reducing criminality overall in society. High-quality prekindergarten benefits government budgets by saving government spending on K-12 education, child welfare, and the criminal justice system, and by increasing tax revenues. Thus, investment in high-quality prekindergarten has significant implications for future government budgets, both at the national and the state and local levels, for the economy, and for crime."

http://www.epi.org/publication/book_enriching/

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

From today's New York Times Ed Board:

"The surge of desperate young migrants across the southwest border has the Obama administration scrambling to respond. It was clearly ill-prepared for a problem that grew steadily for years before exploding this year, with more than 47,000 unaccompanied children caught at the border since October."

snip!

Yes, the Obama Administration is shocked. SHOCKED I SAY! to read this in the New York Times.

Pop Quiz:

How does the Mexican government traverse their northern deserts to deliver so many kids to the U.S. border every month? Think about it.  Oh the humanity.  How do 47,000 unaccompanied kids gain entry into Mexico from the South, then transit over one thousand miles to their northern border?  Why, it's a team effort.  They have coordinated with the appropriate U.S. agencies.  How else could such a large number of alien children cross through Mexico?

Think of it as a kinder, gentler Fast and Furious operation but this time the Obama Administration is coordinating with the Mexican government.

After all, they now truly have a common enemy - the Red States and Texas is ground zero. Overwhelm the Texans.  Overwhelm their schools, hospitals and social programs.

We have one evil guy as our President.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

The baby-bashers are here, at it again, bright and early. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

A parable from Nature

The Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) is a brood parasite, meaning that it lays its eggs in nests of other species. A female cowbird quietly searches for female birds of other species that are actively laying eggs. Once she has found a suitable host (the taxpayer), the cowbird will sneak onto the resident bird’s nest when it is away, usually damage or remove one (or more) egg, and replace that egg with one (or more) of her own.

The foster parents then unknowingly raise the young cowbirds, usually at the expense of their own offspring (education). Cowbird eggs require a shorter incubation period than most other songbirds and thus usually hatch first. Cowbird nestlings also grow large very quickly. These advantages allow them to command the most food from their foster parents (finite resources), usually resulting in reduced nesting success of the host species (graduation outcomes).

It is unknown whether they developed their breeding strategy because they had to move frequently to keep up with the bison herds, or whether they were able to follow the herds because their breeding strategy gave them the freedom to do so. (free daycare)

The cowbird does not depend exclusively on a single host species; it has been known to parasitize over 220 different species of North American birds and therefore spreads its impact across many populations. (35,000 children a month deposited at the border).

roo_ster
roo_ster

Seems like the effort is to separate non-asian minority children from their parents ASAP. Next step is to take them away at birth and allow limited visitation on alternate Saturdays.


I sure all that will close The Gap.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@everlastingphelps

Language is the problem, here. If we could identify and describe the problem accurately, we could call the solution by its real name - Daycare.

That's never going to happen because politicians cannot win seats on a "call-a-spade-a-spade" platform. 

doublecheese
doublecheese

@everlastingphelps I don't think think there's any danger of rich or middle class white families sending their kids to a public preschool and consuming all the funds for it.    

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@everlastingphelps

If they're from dysfunctional or non-supportive homes, then that's even more reason for the state to step in.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@holmantx

...clearly ill-prepared for a problem...

They left out the defining word of this administration: unexpectedly.

How does the Mexican government ... deliver so many kids...

There is a single train, makes runs daily I think. It's called the DREAM train.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Myrna

You'll notice that no-one in this forum actually "bashes babies", they're bashing the system, the parents, but not the babies. It's usually the parents job to bash the baby.

I think it's a good idea, especially if the babies are being raised by babies.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@roo_ster

A 3-year-old's parent could still be a teen. By getting them into the system early, there's a chance to counteract poor parenting, nutrition, etc.

The State will have to begin earlier and increase its role as the outmoded "traditional family" is slowly phased out for many of the dependent class in favor of single motherhood (a child needs a father like a fish needs a tricycle).

The mating couple will produce, the state will pay the mother for each child produced (the sperm donor having moved on), and assume the largest share of responsibility for the child until he/she is of age to drop out of school and start producing children. This cycle is job security for many.

That's how they do it in the Appalachia, anyway.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@TheRuddSki

To displace (move) the 2nd Marine Division - a little over 40,000 men, even across the street is a logistical nightmare . . . 

The New York Times went on to lament and handwring that the bulk of these chillerns are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

That they just magically appeared in Texas to California.  Only the combined efforts of five governments can move that many people, much less children, so far and so fast across three borders.

Those damnable heartless Republican racists (ha!).

One day this is all going to come out regarding the duplicity the current administration had in a coordinated effort to dump on and degrade the border states in an attempt to sway an election already lost.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@TheRuddSki

If you the taxpayer, unknowingly or knowingly, act like the father then the courts hold you legally and financially responsible as the father.  Even if a DNA check proves you are not the father.

For you have the deep pockets.

That's why we call you Woody Allen.  Not exactly the Alpha male, but let's face it - you ARE good for something.

just not the fun part.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx

Only the combined efforts of five governments can move that many people, much less children, so far and so fast across three borders.

This is Earth calling, please advise when you plan on reentry, we would like to be sure to not have anything in your path that you might crash into when you come back.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@holmantx @TheRuddSki

Considering that the Mexican gov't. doesn't have a historically chummy relationship with those countries, that is definitely an intriguing angle to investigate.

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

@holmantx @TheRuddSki  It is interesting that so many are from Central American given the fact that Mexico is actually pretty strict compared to us when it comes to immigration.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@holmantx

My deep pockets are where tío Sam can't dip into them, unless they find that a third cousin twice removed received an SS overpayment in 1958. Then I'm on the hook.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@mavdog @holmantx

Tomorrow Matamoros will be 93 degrees

Nuevo Laredo - 103

Ojinaga - 105

These are the Ports of Entry.  Attempting to cross between these POEs is a very a high heat situation.  And there is hundreds of miles of desert on both sides.

It is why we do not need a wall.  The able-bodied die all the time.  By summer, it will be a furnace.  There are very few roads in Mexico (and Texas) that traverse north and south to the border.  It is a hostile land.  No country for Old Men (and kids) was filmed there (Presidio).

Only governments can move that many kids to the drop.  Only a government operation can pick them up on the other side.

Again, you are a fool.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@TheRuddSki

Soon, our vaunted statesmen will have to tax one's assets.  Boomers are coming out of their income-producing years.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx 

we know where THOSE points of entry are, the question is where is YOUR point of entry when you come back out of wherever in outer space you are?

because it is clear beyond any shadow of doubt you are NOT firmly planted on this planet Earth....far, far from it.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@holmantx

As has been pointed out in this forum by someone deeply familiar with the system, boomers are going to be transitioning to welfare via SS and Medicare in great numbers.

These kids clogging the border are going to have to pay for us.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@mavdog @holmantx

You're clearly not buying holman's theory, and I'm not saying that I think he's right, necessarily, but a mobilization of this magnitude is clearly something "out of the ordinary".

What's yours take? Are you of the opinion that we shouldn't try to do something on the front-end of this humanitarian-crisis? Just wait until these juveniles arrive and feed them breakfast burritos in holding centers until someone claims them?

I don't know the solution, but clearly we can't just allow such "immigrant-dumps" to occur without repercussions for those responsible.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@mavdog @holmantx

This, from the green chick on the stick who darkens the skies with her winged monkeys around here.  Yer the one who rules in the Land of Oz, bitch.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk @holmantx @TheRuddSki

I really DO believe the President, possibly after consultation with Establishment Republicans and our Governor (who are for Dream and amnesty), manufactured this crisis.

The only people who are against this are the People, and the Tea Party.

The Establishment Republicans are a reband of the movement that dare not speak its name - neoconservatives.  And they are all for paying millions to sit in idleness while we import labor.  The Left obviously has no problem with it since they actually believe they can collapse Texas and the Reds without collapsing the middle class itself.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx 

tsk tsk tsk, resorting to the use of words like "bitch". desperate acts of someone who knows they are on the wrong side of the issue.

and a reference to Elphaba, clearly you aren't knowledgeable about Wicked. Elphaba (the "green chick") was the smart, good witch. Galinda makes up stories due to her own failures and jealousy.

come to think of it, you might be on to something. you are Galinda, making up stories! yes, that's accurate!

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@mavdog

yer creeping me out.

Only you would argue the merits of the Wicked Witch of the West.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx

3 tony awards, a grammy award, over a decade on Broadway. the world knows the "merits".. yet not you.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@mavdog @holmantx

She was invented to scare children.

The President imprisons children to scare us all.

to vote his way.

he invented the crisis.

the man behind the curtain.

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