ND leads nation in skipping pre-k

Summer vacation can fly by for students. Before you know it, it's back to school season. But for an increasing number of North Dakota families, young students won't be attending a formal school next year.

According to Kids Count, North Dakota has the highest percentage of young students not attending an institutional pre-k, kindergarten or nursery school. From 2015 to 2017, 69 percent of students aged 3 or 4 years old stayed at home.

"I don't think we have quite the emphasis that other states do on this constant push of getting these tiny children into school. I mean, yes, you hear that more and more, but I don't think it's the same as it would be in Minneapolis," North Dakota Home School Association Administrator Theresa Deckert said.

While other states remained constant or saw the numbers drop, North Dakota saw a consistent increase since 2011. Homeschooling parents argue this trend is economic.

"I do think, also, there are some people who move around a lot. Maybe their job is only going to be 9 months in North Dakota, and homeschooling is so much easier if you're in a job that had to move frequently," NDHSA Board Member Sue Huntington said.

Recently, Senator Kevin Cramer announced $4.4 million in federal grants will be given to North Dakota Head Start Programs; split between Grand Forks and Bismarck public schools. Saying, "Head Start programs provide a learning environment that supports children's growth in areas such as language, literacy, and social and emotional development..."

Nearly $1 Million was also recently announced for Head Start reduced-cost lunch programs, funded by a North Dakota state grant.

According to Kids Count, the national average for the study was 52 percent of students not attending a formal school; 17 points lower than North Dakota.