Early Education in the News
We need to re-order priorities and develop partnerships across government, business, nonprofit and religious sectors to support families and their children. We must develop an integrated approach to child development that begins with prenatal care and continues through adolescence. Then, public policies and resources must be realigned to consistently support that holistic blueprint.
We would be wiser to invest more in remedying the causes of disadvantaged, disrupted and broken families than what California spends on prisons. Funding and supporting early childhood development must be a priority, not an afterthought.
Legislation that would provide state funding to expand early childhood education in North Dakota drew plenty of support during its first hearing Tuesday, but leaders of two education groups also said they want to ensure it’s not a gateway to vouchers for private schools. The $6 million in Senate Bill 2151 would cover about half the cost of pre-kindergarten education for an estimated 6,000 children through annual grants of $1,000 per student starting in the 2016-17 school year, said the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo.
The Universal Pre-K Act (Act 166) was passed in the Vermont state legislature last year. In November, mandatory implementation was delayed until 2016. Districts had the choice to begin next fall. CESU and a third of the state's supervisory unions will be taking advantage of that option. Alberghini cites the effect on students as the primary reason.
Congress is currently revving up yet another attempt to rewrite the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act, and Murray said Tuesday that she sees putting her stamp on the sweeping education legislation as "another big step forward, putting the ideals of our nation into action." No Child Left Behind, George W. Bush's rebranding of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, required that students in America's public schools be tested in math and reading in certain grades, and punished schools based on those scores. Since then, it has earned a reputation from nearly everyone for being too crude in its metrics, because it relies on raw test scores as opposed to student growth. On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that after years of working around Congress to get states out of the law by issuing waivers, the Obama administration is ready to go back to the legislative drawing board.
For teachers in publicly funded child-care centers, Louisiana demands little more than that they be 18 or older. There is no education requirement or mandatory training. But the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education decided Tuesday in committee that these pre-school teachers must take classes of their own to learn more about young children's care and development. The move is part of a statewide push to improve pre-school, authorized by Act 3 of the 2012 legislative session and related laws. Other recent changes include the Education Department taking over management of pre-school programs, new academic report cards and coordinated pre-school enrollment. The rules apply to all pre-schools that accept public funding, such as those participating in the Child Care Assistance program.
Libby Doggett, who oversees early-childhood policy for the U.S. Department of Education, has a long history in the field, including work with the National Head Start Association and the Pew Charitable Trusts, where she led the philanthropy's Home Visiting campaign and its Pre-K Now initiative.
But the latest work in early-childhood nationwide is energizing even to this self-described "optimist." Said Doggett: "What's been exciting is to have so many unexpected allies. The business community, the law enforcement community, the faith-based community, others [are] stepping forward and saying that 'These are our children, and we're going to help.' And that's what's made the difference."
The Common Core State Standards call for kindergartners to learn how to read, but a new report by early childhood experts says that forcing some kids to read before they are ready could be harmful.
Two organizations that advocate for early childhood education —Defending the Early Years and Alliance for Childhood — issued the reporttitled “Reading in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose.” It says there is no evidence to support a widespread belief in the United States that children must read in prekindergarten or kindergarten to become strong readers and achieve academic success.
Head Start programs have been shown to help poor children do better in school, but they may also help them fight obesity, a study suggests. During a year of Head Start preschool, obese and overweight children were much more likely to slim down than comparison groups of kids. The study involved almost 44,000 preschool-aged children in Michigan and the researchers, from the University of Michigan, acknowledge it has weaknesses. But they say the potential benefits are important because obesity is so hard to treat and affects low-income children disproportionately.
The Obama administration wants to add a program in federal law to fund preschool for low-income children. President Obama has unsuccessfully asked Congress to add pre-K to the K-12 system in his annual budget request, saying that it is the most cost-effective way to help disadvantaged children. But Republicans have blanched at spending more on education.
New data reveals our public—not private—school system is among the best in the world. In fact, except for the debilitating effects of poverty, our public school system may be the best in the world. The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveal that the U.S. ranked high, relative to other OECD countries, in reading, math, and science (especially in reading, and in all areas better in 4th grade than in 8th grade). Some U.S. private schools were included, but a separate evaluation was done for Florida, in public schools only, and their results were higher than the U.S. average. . .
Numerous studies have shown that pre-school helps all children to achieve more and earn more through adulthood, with the most disadvantaged benefiting the most. But the U.S. ranks near the bottom of the developed world in the percentage of 4-year-olds in early childhood education. And yet Head Start was recently hit with the worst cutbacks in its history.
When Greg Abbott made preschool a cornerstone of his education proposal during his campaign for governor, it signaled to some lawmakers that the upcoming legislative session could put more money in the state’s early education program. The issue seems poised to take up a share of the conversation in Austin, with several legislators prefiling bills to expand state-funded preschool. Some lawmakers want to make prekindergarten available to all 4-year-olds. Others want to raise the quality of the existing program and provide enough funding to increase it from half-day to full-day. . .
Texas has some of the weakest quality standards for preschool, with no limits on student-to-teacher ratios or class size, W. Steven Barnett, the National Institute for Early Education research director, has said.
Since November, three American cities have approved plans to offer subsidized preschool to their youngest residents. Could Cincinnati be next? Advocates for the Cincinnati Preschool Promise spent 2014 building support through social media, community forums and one-on-one conversations. The idea is to provide a preschool education to all 3- and 4-year-olds within the boundaries of Cincinnati Public Schools, with tuition assistance offered on a sliding scale. An alliance of education officials, civic groups and business leaders believes that universal preschool could have a range of benefits for Cincinnati, from boosting academic performance and combating childhood poverty to creating a more skilled workforce and attracting families to the city.
A University of Virginia report published last week found that about a third of Virginia youngsters rated poorly on kindergarten readiness and argued that more assessments are needed for young students to identify where they fall short. They found a third of students fell short of benchmarks in at least one area. In 40 percent of classrooms, 40 percent of children were rated “not ready” in one area. The report does not disclose which districts participated, but said the students in the study were representative of the state’s kindergartners.
Universal pre-K simply means that all children, regardless of family income or ability, will have access to quality programs that are governed by high standards; serve 3- and 4 year-olds; and focus on school readiness and positive outcomes for children. There is an abundance of evidence-based research on the impact of high quality pre-school education that clearly demonstrate the short and long-term effects on children’s early learning and their overall growth and development. The National Institute for Early Education and Research points out that children enrolled in quality pre-K programs often show significant gains in math and early literacy skills; strong social/emotional and cognitive development; and are better prepared for kindergarten.
As welcome as the new preschool opportunities provided by the current budget are, they only begin to meet the need. When the California Department of Education last month invited preschool providers to apply for funds to support 4,000 newly available slots, providers sent letters seeking more than 32,000 slots -- an expression of need that exceeded availability by a factor of eight.
That means that, even with this year's investment, children in many communities in California will continue to go without the essential boost that good preschool provides. From population centers like Los Angeles and San Diego to rural communities in the north state and Central Valley, we have profound evidence of need.
A year ago, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told state leaders at a National Governors Association gathering that the growth of publicly financed early-childhood education in the nation is "inevitable." Actions at the state, local, and federal levels, both before and after that meeting, have largely proved the assertion true. But the enthusiasm for expanding early-childhood programs has raised some complex policy issues. . .
But policymakers around the country are willing to grapple with this issue in a way that they were not even 10 years ago, said W. Steven Barnett, the executive director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, based at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. The expansion of early-childhood programming "is the accumulation of a body of evidence and the demonstrated policy successes," Mr. Barnett said. "And I think you can also add a third thing: Families today just view it as a necessity." Today's debate about early childhood is not focused primarily on whether the government is interfering with child-rearing, Mr. Barnett explained, but on how to pay for preschool programs and how to improve their quality. "Parents have made the decision," he said. "So now, it's how do we support the parents' decisions?"
Despite a bipartisan consensus on the importance of early childhood education, most states have a long way to go toward implementing high-quality programs and enrolling more young children, according to Education Week's annual report on state efforts to improve education. Overall, nearly two-thirds of children between the ages of 3 and 6 are attending school, but more than half of 3- and 4-year-olds are not in school, the report found. Large racial, ethnic and socioeconomic gaps – in some cases up to 21 percentage points – also still exist in preschool enrollment rates. Children from lower-income families and those with lower parental education are far less likely than their peers to be enrolled in preschool, the index report found. Despite some states' overall strong performance, scores for individual factors varied widely. More than half of states ranked in the top 10 for some indicators but in the bottom 10 for others, the report found.
The benefits of early childhood education include fewer special-education needs and repeated grades, higher graduation rates and earnings, and lower incarceration rates. These children enter the workforce prepared to succeed. For these reasons, education, law enforcement, military, and business leaders all support expanding access to early-education programs. . .
Unfortunately, despite the overwhelming benefits, only 30 percent of Pennsylvania's 3- and 4-year-olds have access to early-childhood education, according to the Pre-K for PA campaign. If we want to help children and taxpayers, we must look for fiscally responsible ways to expand access to these programs.
A student should not be promoted to the next grade if he or she has not been earning passing grades or is unable to do grade-level work. Due to the accountability requirements established by federal grants under the No Child Left Behind Act andthe Race to the Top, fifteen states and the District of Columbia currently have strict retention policies in place for students who are not reading by third grade. This milestone is based on research that demonstrates that third graders who are not reading on grade level are significantly less likely to graduate high school on time.
e number of dual language learners in the United States is growing extremely rapidly. And there’s strong evidence that identifying and supporting these students early in their educational process can make a big difference for them in the long run.
Yet, according to a recent webinar by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) on Young Immigrants and Dual Language Learners: Participation in Pre-K & Gaps at Kindergarten Entry, few states require early language screening in early education programs.