By Matt Weyer
It’s back to school time for millions of kids across the country, and with the new school year brings several changes initiated by state legislatures.
Earlier this summer, New Hampshire lawmakers passed a bill that will use revenue from the electronic gambling game keno to provide school districts more funding for full-day kindergarten. The “keno-garten” bill creates a new set of grants beginning in fiscal year 2019 to provide an additional $1,100 per kindergartner. The law is designed to make up the per-pupil funding gap between kindergarteners—currently $1,818—and students in grades 1-12—currently $3,636—that is provided by the state.
Lawmakers were also very active in addressing opportunity gaps, such as gaps in academic readiness at kindergarten entry. Legislation from Utah created school readiness grants and intergenerational poverty school readiness scholarships to close these gaps. To find out more on opportunity gaps, and research and state policies to help close them, read this recent LegisBrief.
Several preschools and elementary schools across the country will also be implementing a significant new change in their discipline policies. This week, Illinois became the 10th state, along with Washington D.C., to limit or prohibit suspensions for young students. Several other states have local policies at the district level. These bills have been developed in response to disproportionate suspensions and expulsions of African-American students, especially boys, from preschool and elementary school classrooms.
Overall, state lawmakers have been very busy working to improve the outcomes for young students, with more action likely in 2018 sessions.
Register for a webinar on how to best use data to enhance young English learners’ achievement on Aug. 24.
For more information on early childhood education issues, check out the Early Learning and Support Webpage.
Matt Weyer is a senior policy specialist in NCSL’s Education Program.