Better Data Use Shows the Depths of the Pandemic Prekindergarten Crisis

The Urban Institute reports that equitable school reopening means reversing major declines in public school enrollment, especially in kindergarten, and using data on prepandemic trends to focus reopening efforts. Enrollment declines in kindergarten stand out. But declines in prekindergarten—and disparities by race and ethnicity—are far more striking. And they are critical. Public prekindergarten prepares the nation’s youngest learners for success in kindergarten, with the greatest benefits going to students from families with low incomes and dual-language learners. Prekindergarten can also set children on a path to better outcomes through middle school and beyond. Without targeted support, this lost year of school could hold back a generation. Florida, a state ranked fourth nationwide for its high share of 4-year-olds enrolled, provides a helpful example. Although the state’s leadership has shown unusually strong support for reopening despite opposition from public health officials and teachers’ unions, prekindergarten enrollment declined for all racial and ethnic groups. #education #racialequity

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