Low preschool rates for Idaho Latinos

preschool graduation
Preschool just works. Image via camknows / flickr.

A recent report from Education Week, a national education magazine, gave Idaho schools a D+ grade, ranking the state 46th out of 50 based on a complex set of criteria including school funding, test scores, graduation rates and other factors. One major factor pointing to later success in school is the availability of preschool in a state, and Idaho came in dead last for its dearth of state-funded preschool offerings.

While the Ed Week Quality Counts report mentioned that income, parental education, race and ethnicity may affect preschool attendance nationally, it did not at first provide any state data on Hispanic preschool rates. Not surprisingly, Idaho’s lack of publicly-funded preschool results in low rates — 32.1% of all Idaho 3- and 4-year olds were enrolled in preschool in 2013 compared to 47.3 nationally. After a call from Latino 208, however, Education Week ran the state numbers, and found that only 28.8% of Hispanic 3- and 4-year-olds in Idaho attend preschool.

The Kids Count Data Center, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, also tracks state-level preschool rates, broken down by race and ethnicity. The map below shows the percentage of Hispanic kids NOT attending preschool for most states, according to the Kids Count numbers for 2010-2012. As you can see, Idaho is in the bottom tier nationally.

Ed Week’s post points out, however, that if a state has low preschool attendance anyway, it follows that Hispanic attendance rates would also be low. So they looked at the gap between Hispanic and non-Hispanic kids in each state. According to Ed Week, Idaho has a relatively low gap as well, with 7.6 percent fewer Hispanic kids in preschool than non-Hispanic. The chart below shows the preschool gaps for states with the highest percentages of Hispanic preschoolers. Arizona, a state with a large Latino population, has a relatively high gap, for example.

Hispanic preschool gap

Preschool gaps for states with large Latino preschool age population. Chart is from Ed Week.

Three Idaho state legislators are working on a voluntary preschool pilot project this year, led by Boise Democrat, Rep. Hy Kloc with Nampa Republican Rep. Christy Perry and Rep. Pat McDonald, a Boise Republican. They have not yet introduced a bill, but you can reach them via their contact info on the legislative page or by calling 208-332-1000 or toll-free, 1-800-626-0471, and asking for your representative by name.

Idaho Ed News wrote about some other aspects of the Ed Week report card, including Idaho’s record on school funding and test scores.

According to Education Week, there is national momentum toward publicly funded preschool but it has not been a priority in Idaho. The City of Boise recently proposed city-funded preschool, according to Boise Weekly.


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