Study cites holes in early learning — and postsecondary enrollment

A newly released report cites several holes in Idaho’s education system.

Too few young children are enrolled in early learning programs.

Too few adults have a postsecondary education.

And geography matters; opportunities vary from county to county.

“We know that Idaho will have the strongest future possible when all kids have the opportunities that will put them on a path to success, regardless of zip code and ethnicity. Increasing access to early education and affordable postsecondary education will strengthen our state, today and for decades to come,” said Lauren Necochea, director of Idaho Voices for Children, the author of the study, which was released Thursday.

Findings were based on county-level U.S. Census Bureau data. Among the key points:

  • In Idaho, only 34.1 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in a preschool or nursery school; the national average is 47.7 percent. Results vary widely from county to county, from a high of 63.3 percent in Valley County to a low of 15 percent in Benewah County. There is even a wide disparity in the Treasure Valley, with a 42.2 percent enrollment rate in Ada County, and a 23.2 percent rate in Canyon County.
  • One-third of Idaho young adults hold at least an associate’s degree. The national average is 40.4 percent. The percentages range from 56.1 percent in Latah County to 9.4 percent in Owyhee County.

Idaho Voices for Children is a Boise-based nonprofit. The group says its mission is “to develop and promote state-level policies to improve child health, education, safety, and family economic security.”

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