Pre-k teacher Beverly Campbell works with students at the Let's Go Play Academy child care center in Hopkinsville, Ky. Photo: Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

From Kentucky comes news of an interesting collaboration between public and private early education and care programs. Massachusetts, too, is committed to a mixed delivery system of early education.

In Kentucky, public school pre-kindergarten teachers have been spending time in private, center-based programs in an innovative effort to stretch public pre-k dollars and build quality, according to “Pre-K, To Go,” a Perspectives Special Report from the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

“The colorful open classroom at the Hopkinsville Let’s Go Play Academy, where (veteran public school early educator Beverly) Campbell leads an afternoon pre-k class, is a home-grown example of collaboration that is widening access to quality pre-k programs at a time when space is limited, budgets are tight, and many young children spend the months leading up to schools in a variety of child care settings. For Christian County school leaders, building partnerships is the best strategy for making sure more children arrive at school ready to learn,” the report states.

“Two years ago, the Christian County program was envisioned as a winning proposition on several fronts: Day care centers provide space the school system lacks to serve more preschool students. The arrangements cut out transportation costs for the district. In addition, keeping the centers’ workers in the rooms with teachers gives students extra attention. Meanwhile, working alongside a certified teacher helps the centers’ staff grow professionally while giving operators new resources and a selling point. The arrangements also diffuse some of the competitive tension that has grown since the state started funding pre-k for four-year-olds.”

Shanna Grayson, an early educator at Let’s Go Play, is a fan. “It has definitely improved my organization skills, and it gives me a better idea of what the school system wants to see from four- and five-year-olds,” the report quotes her as saying.