At a recent conference at the University of Nevada, Reno, Governor Brian Sandoval spoke to nearly a hundred of the state’s education leaders about improving early childhood education. Reno Public Radio’s Michelle Bliss reports that one of the governor’s top goals moving forward is to expand all-day kindergarten programs.
Right now, about two-thirds of elementary schools in Nevada have all-day kindergarten. Sandoval says he hopes to soon see it offered statewide.
One way Nevada has already expanded early childhood education programs is by identifying what are called "zoom schools," which are those with large numbers of English language learners.
“This is the first time in the state’s history that we’ve done that," the governor explains. "We put $50 million to start this program.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga says "zoom school" programs support the types of students who tend to struggle the most:
“Children who live in poverty or English language learners start kindergarten with a language deficit. They simply don’t have the same vocabulary.”
In addition to finding funding for programs, Erquiaga says a major challenge has been getting families to support literacy before their little ones even set foot inside a classroom.
“And so that’s the help I need is for moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas who take care of young children," Erquiaga explains, "[is] to help us really focus on their learning and their vocabulary.”
Erquiaga says that type of outreach is essential to improve education in Nevada, which continually ranks near the bottom when comparing its education system with those in other states.