Just a few years back, very few state education departments in the USA showed any willingness to devote their attention and resources to early childhood education programs. In those days, most of the attention would be focused on elementary, secondary and college education programs, leaving the early childhood system largely uncared for. The reasoning behind this was quite simple: that early childhood education didn’t matter, and that resources would be better spent if devoted to the higher education systems (where output is usually more tangible and hence more quantifiable).
Fast forward to today, and we see more and states devoting considerable resources and attention to the early childhood education system. There are a number of ways through which this is manifesting. We are, for instance, seeing more and more childhood education centers being built in low income areas, to encourage parents who wouldn’t otherwise put their children through ECD to do so. Many state governments are also employing more and more early child educators. And supervision for early child educators, even those not in the government payroll, is being tightened, to ensure that it is a quality education they are giving kids. In many states, we are increasingly seeing people aspiring to become early child educators being put through licensing processes. And more often than not, one of the conditions for licensure is that the person must have a good understanding of early education techniques – with quite a good number requiring aspiring ECD teachers to have degrees in the discipline.
So, the question that comes up is as to why more and more governments are paying closer attention to early childhood education.
And while several factors can be seen as being the trend where more and more state governments are paying closer attention to early education, it turns out that their efforts in that regard are mostly being informed by findings from education research. Those are findings to the effect that the quality of childhood education a person gets is one of the key determinants of that person’s educational achievement over a lifetime. This is where it emerges that people who receive good quality early education tend to go on to become educational achievers, with people who receive poor quality early childhood education (or no ECD at all) going on to become non-achievers education-wise, regardless of their natural abilities. The mechanism via which this trend manifests, it seems, is via the fact that it is in the ECD system that ‘attitudes to learning’ are developed. It follows, then, that good ECD would develop good attitudes to learning in learners, whereas poor ECD makes them averse to learning.
Governments are increasingly becoming awake to the fact that although the results of early education may not be directly quantifiable, childhood education still has a very huge impact on the rest of the education system over the years. Thus, they become aware to the fact that devotion of resources and attention into the early childhood is, in fact, an investment into future success for the (whole) education system. Conversely, it is now widely understood that neglecting childhood education would do the whole education system a lot of harm in the longer run. That would be happening as students with poor attitudes to learning (thanks to poor early childhood education) go through the system, and probably come out of it without attaining their fullest potential.