I’ve got a new post up with a colleague at my organization’s blog, Preschool Matters. A few weeks ago, we posted “Preschool for Y’All: The Rise of Early Education in the South,” which looked at trends in the provision of state-funded pre-K in the South, a region which has far outstripped other U.S. regions in this area of education. Today’s follow-up, “How Did Early Education Become a Southern Goal?” is a quick overview of some of the trends in public policy in the South that may have led to this rise.
I worked on these blogs for a while. It’s been quite clear for some time from my work on the State of Preschool Yearbook that the South as a whole stands out; what was much less clear was why. I started thinking more seriously about this over the summer, talking anecdotally with a few early education advocates in the South and doing some reading not just of the policy briefs noted in the blog, but also whole books. In particular, I was intrigued by Universal Preschool: Policy Change, Stability, and the Pew Charitable Trusts by Brenda Bushouse (in part because by project was initially funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts) and her attention to the policy formation processes in a quite notable states, including a few in the South.
Everything I learned, and developed more questions about, cannot be summed up in these two blog posts. I think my persistent question still out there is this: what can Southerners – whether natives, or educators, or transplants – say about how Southern culture may have contributed to a focus on early childhood education? I’m eager to hear what anyone has to say on this topic, whether here or over at the original blog psots.