There’s good news about Oklahoma on the national level. We’ve been ranked among the top eight states for our public Pre-K program.
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister tells us the ranking comes from the “influential National Institute for Early Education Research.”
Since the education of our children is among the most important of the things we do, this ranking comes as a pleasant surprise, although it probably wasn’t a surprise to educators.
Hofmeister said Oklahoma launched its Early Childhood Four-Year-Old Program in 1980, years ahead of the rest of the country. In 1998, Oklahoma became only the second state to offer Pre-K for all 4-year-olds, with 99 percent of school districts participating. Additionally, Oklahoma is one of only four states requiring Pre-K teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree with teaching certification and ensures them equal pay with other grade-level teachers. Pre-K teachers in Oklahoma also have the same individualized professional development opportunities as other teachers at the state level.
One of Oklahoma’s six primary goals is aligning early childhood education and learning foundations to ensure at least 75 percent of students are ready to read upon entering kindergarten. As well, 74 percent of Oklahoma’s 4 year olds are enrolled in public Pre-K compared to a nationwide 33 percent.
These choices and commitment made by the state have translated into national recognition, but the work is not done.
Hofmeister said, “For decades, our early childhood educators have been nationally renowned as pioneers in their field. Though we are grateful for this important recognition of excellence in our Pre-K programs, we must continue to prioritize early learning to prepare our children to reach their full potential.”
We are appreciative of the work done, but agree with the state superintendent. Let the work continue.