The Louisiana Senate recently approved Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposal to assign letter grades to preschools, remove funding from underperforming programs and streamline governance.
The current state of early childhood education in Louisiana is not a good one—programs are scattered across various different types of funding, some with state and some with federal—which combines to be over $1 billion annually.
More than 30 percent of Louisiana’s 4-year-olds are in a state-funded preschool program—that’s about 41,000 at-risk children, which doesn’t include children in child care centers licensed by the state social services department or childhood development programs by the state health department.
The programs aren’t tracked and scored like public schools and Louisiana has a kindergarten readiness rate of only 52 percent.
The new bill would call for assigning letter grades to all early childhood programs and childcare centers that receive public funding in order to create a more integrated network of programs and to better track performance of both Louisiana’s youth and early childhood education programs.
Sen. Barrow Peacock pleaded to remove the letter-grading requirement, insisting that the children in early childhood education programs are too young to be subjected to such a grading scale, but the Senate rejected this attempt, stating that grades would give parents a way to tell if a pre-K program was doing well.