Florida Mentioned in List of States with the Worst Early Education Systems

L. Cane

Few question that high school education is important. High school is often a prerequisite to college acceptance, technical school acceptance, or, in some cases, the start of a career. However, there has been data to suggest that early education at the pre-k level can also be a contributing factor to student success.

How Do Children Benefit From Preschool? According to Very Well Families, children in preschool learn social skills such as how to problem solve and show respect to others. They also learn behavior management, which readies them for elementary school. And they learn some academics such as numbers, letters, and language skills.

W. Steven Barnett, Founder and Senior Co-Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, has said:

"...People who attend preschool are more productive in school, work, and society generally—with higher levels of education and earnings, less involvement in delinquency and crime, and fewer chronic health problems."

Determining Which States Have the Best Early Education Programs: Since early education programs are arguably so important, the website WalletHub wanted to know which states provide the best early education programs.

So it looked at metrics for all states in areas like the share of a state's school districts that offer a state pre-K program, the number of pre-k quality benchmarks met in each state, and total spending on each child enrolled in a state's pre-k. It also looked at specific factors like the number of pre-k educators with bachelor's degrees and the number of 3-4-year-olds actively enrolled in the state's early education programs. It released its findings in August of 2022.

How Did Florida Fare?: Florida didn't fare well in this survey, coming in at 41 out of 51 states. The sunshine state scored its lowest marks for economic support, which is in part the amount of money it invests for each pre-k-aged child. However, Florida scored a bit higher for the quality of its pre-k education program, coming in at 38th in that category.

Florida may have been impacted by the fact that its free pre-k program only includes 4-year-old children and older, while the WalletHub study evaluated 3 and 4-year-olds in early education programs.

Another consideration is that Florida may have scored a bit higher for quality because, according to Florida Statute 6A-4.0141, a person seeking certification in preschool education must have a bachelor's degree.

Which States Scored the Best? And the Worst?: Arkansas was found by WalletHub to have the best early education system, followed by Nebraska and Maryland. Missouri, North Dakota, and Indiana made the bottom of the list.

Additional Studies about Early Education in Florida: The WalletHub data is only one study, so one can look at additional studies to gain more perspective. Wall Street 24/7 conducted a similar study in 2020 using census data and data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. This study felt that Florida ranked 35th out of 50th, which isn't as low-ranking as WalletHub's study.

In 2016, the State of Preschool Report ranked Florida 3rd in the nation for preschool-aged children's access to early education programs, but 39th for funding.

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