Florida is the best state in the country for racial equality in preschool enrollment. According to U.S. News, Florida has a preschool enrollment of 61% behind only New Jersey and New York.
The importance of preschool cannot be understated. Children enrolled in preschool are more likely to graduate high school and attend college.
Preschool helps children establish daily schedules, perform self-helping tasks like tying shoes and washing their hands, and help develop social skills.
The U.S. News conducted a “Racial Equality in America” project comparing preschool enrollment rates and ethnic groups by state. The size of the racial disparity ranked the states.
For example, Louisiana had a preschool enrollment percentage of 61%. Even though the state had the highest Black enrollment at 65%, the percentage was brought down due to its low Hispanic enrollment at 54%.
Florida ranks No. 1 with an enrollment rate of 61.43%. The enrollment for races in Florida were very similar; Black enrollment had the highest rate, with 64%.
According to studies by NPR, poor and disadvantaged kids show the most development in preschool.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2014, white students had a high school graduation rate of 87%, while Black students had a rate of 73%. There are many factors as to why the educational gap is so significant for white communities compared to minority communities. However, preschool enrollment is directly related to increased high school graduation rates.
Starting education early can bridge the educational gap between minority communities and white communities.
Learning Policy Institute states, “Students who attend preschool programs are more prepared for school and are less likely to be identified as having special needs or to be held back in elementary school than children who did not attend preschool.”
Preschool enrollment can lead to a boost in literacy rates. A higher literacy rate in minority communities can lessen racial disparity. According to New America, white students nearly double their proficiency in literacy compared to their Black counterparts.
It is no surprise that Florida has such a high enrollment rate; according to a study by FiveThirtyEight, Florida is one of 11 states with a universal preschool program.
Florida has a program called Voluntary Prekindergarten, which is a free education program that prepares children who are 4 years old for kindergarten and the rest of their educational journey.
The program serves almost 80% of the state’s 4 year olds and has risen since its introduction in 2005.
Florida invested in early childhood education early on, and the results show that the state continues to decrease the racial disparity rate by increasing the preschool enrollment rate.