Mixed Income Models Work – All Children Benefit

Mixed-Income Models Work:  All Children Benefit

Upon a recent loss of state funding, Norfolk district leaders are looking to open up some preschool classrooms previously set aside for low-income children, to any children in the city, creating more diversity in early education in this region.

Superintendent Melinda Boone recognizes that all children benefit from early education and is looking for a model that will expand access to high-quality programs for all children and eliminate clusters of hyperpoverty.

The Virginian-Pilot article describes Norfolk’s plan to begin by having three VPI classrooms open to students from broader economic backgrounds. The article states that Virginia is lacking in models of socioeconomic diversity to look to.  Instead, it says, that current efforts focus primarily on expanding access overall with diversity being a side effect.

mixed income models

While this may be the case with some programs, E3: Elevate Early Education (E3) has been dedicated to making HIGH-QUALITY early education available for Virginia’s children, regardless of their zip code, for years.  Research on the benefits of socioeconomic diverse models is clear.  The peer effects are strong for children from low- and middle-income families. Working collaboratively in diverse learning environments is a workforce skill in high demand by employers. Both job-specific skills and “soft skills” such as teamwork, grit, creativity and the ability to regulate your emotions begin during the early childhood years.

E3 was created to make data-driven, strategic public investment in early education a priority in our state.  In 2012, leadership at E3 began setting the stage to create a high-quality, cost-sustainable, replicable, socioeconomic diverse model school that results in kindergarten readiness.

The New E3 School is a local model quantifiably proving that high-quality early education results in kindergarten readiness for children across the income spectrum and it is sitting in Norfolk’s own back yard.  Located in Park Place, Norfolk’s Healthy Neighborhood Innovation Lab, the school has documented outcomes of success for children from all backgrounds.  It is a privately-funded, demonstration model following the recipe of high quality:  integrated curriculum with aligned professional development and extensive coaching for teachers to ensure positive interactions with children and effective implementation of the curriculum.

Needs-based scholarships are offered to ensure socioeconomic diversity.  The school serves as a prototype of best practices that can be replicated throughout the state.  Everything happening inside the school from the UVA-developed STREAMin3curriculum to the professional development and coaching for teachers can be replicated in publicly- and privately-funded programs across the state to impact more children.  Widespread use of this model can close the readiness gap for children in Virginia.

Since its’ opening in 2015, children attending The New E3 School have been meeting and exceeding kindergarten entry benchmarks, regardless of family income status.  Parents from all income levels value high quality education and deserve the best for their children regardless of their zip codes.  Leaders from Norfolk need to look no farther than Park Place for a proven model of success.  We are excited about Norfolk Public Schools’ commitment to ensuring that high quality preschool opportunities are available for children from diverse economic and cultural backgrounds.  The House and Senate’s recent $6m investment includes funding for quality assurances in VPI programs, data collection to evaluate programs’ effectiveness in preparing children for kindergarten as well as replicating The New E3 School model on a voluntary basis in 50 private- and faith-based classrooms across the state. We look forward to working with leaders in Norfolk and around the state see more children arrive in kindergarten prepared for academic success.

 

Lisa Howard

President & CEO

E3: Elevate Early Education, a bipartisan, statewide, issue-advocacy organization

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