Early Education in the News
The Department of Health and Human Services says it is expanding its Head Start program in Flint, Mich., with $3.6 million in one-time funding. It's an effort to combat the developmental effects on kids from the city's lead-laced water. The effects of lead exposure are lifelong and can cause "learning disabilities, behavioral problems and mental retardation," according to the World Health Organization.
The new funding for Head Start, a program that aims to help get kids ready for school and targets low-income families, "includes additional classrooms and a longer school year," Michigan Radio's Rebecca Kruth tells our Newscast unit. "It will also provide parents with more education on lead poisoning — along with increased transportation to help get families to doctor's appointments," Rebecca adds.
"Early education is one of the most important things we can do to help children overcome the effects of lead," Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Nicole Lurie said in a statement.
Bruck said that the group looked at college readiness, recovery and dropout prevention, and early childhood initiatives, and determined that “getting all children in San Antonio ready for school would make the most impact.” At the time, and still today, many independent school districts in the city and throughout the state could not afford to offer full-day pre-k because the state only funds half-day programs. . .
The difference is two-fold, according to most supporters. First, Pre-K 4 SA offers full-time instruction, which most districts working within the confines of state funds cannot afford. Second is the intentional location of the centers at the city’s four quadrants to try to reach as many underserved communities as possible. Experts argue that geography has a lot more to do with education than people are willing to admit.
“It’s really coming down to kids getting educational opportunities based on the zip code that they live in. And we don’t offer an equitable education system across the state. It’s not just Baxer County that that’s happening in; it’s reflected in the entire state,” Kring Villanueva, who has offered testimony on the issue, said. She said districts only have to offer pre-k if they identify 15 kids who meet certain criteria—being low income, English language learners, in foster care, and other “at-risk factors.” But because districts have recognized the value of early education, and especially the value of a full-day program, more of them are taking matters into their own hands.
Minnesota child-care providers have overwhelmingly voted against unionizing, likely ending a debate that has been emotionally charged and politically divisive for a decade.
The fight pitted some child-care workers against others and sharply divided legislators along party lines when they passed a law in 2013 that would allow the vote to unionize.
Minnesota lawmakers return to the Capitol on March 8 for the 2016 legislative session, poised to tackle a long list of topics — from tax cuts to transportation funding.
With an expected budget surplus of more than $900 million, Gov. Mark Dayton says education — specifically expanding access to early-learning programs — should be at the top of that list. But since the surplus is smaller than earlier, he is trying to decide what education spending increases he can fit in.
A growing number of education advocates say lawmakers should widen their focus on early learning from preschoolers to include children as young as 6 months.
However, an economic and state budget report unveiled Friday produced doubt about whether a plan like Dayton’s is affordable. It reduced the state budget surplus by $300 million, which means many wants will go unfunded.
Last May, Governor Tom Wolf held a news conference in front of the Camp Hill state prison in Cumberland County. He was joined by Corrections Secretary John Wetzel and a handful of district attorneys, all pushing for a $120 million funding increase — not for prisons — but for preschool.
“These are the first steps to what I have as a four-year goal to fully fund early childhood education,” Wolf said.
The press conference was timed not only to coincide with that year’s budget negotiations, but also with the release of a report from the nonprofit advocacy group Fight Crime Invest In Kids. The report presented data from across the country to make the case that putting more kids in pre-K now would mean fewer adults in prison later.
“Pre-K sets kids up to be at level by grade 3,” Wetzel said. “Those who aren’t reading at level by grade 3 are more likely to drop out. Those who are more likely to drop out are more likely to be incarcerated. So that’s kind of a cascade effect.”
alifornia has a preschool access problem: 40 percent of all four-year-olds in the state are not enrolled in early learning.
The state's level of preschool enrollment mirror those across the United States, which has some of the lowest rates of preschool enrollment in the world. Market rates for private preschool are comparable to the cost of community college, leaving many families unable to pay for school. Public preschool is available for families whose income is low enough. But even among families that are eligible, an estimated 30-35,000 children still don't have a seat.
Over the past few years, a consensus has grown among preschool advocates, lawmakers and the general public that the state must solve this access crisis. But there's no agreement over what the best solution is. Here are four ideas currently being discussed by policymakers and advocates to expand the number of four-year-olds in preschool. We take a look at how each proposal would work and what the pros and cons of each might be
Over the course of last year’s legislative session, I was proud to see quality pre-K improvements thrust into the spotlight as a bipartisan priority. Through emotional and sometimes heated debate, we were able to approve House Bill 4, a grant program of $130 million to Texas schools, in an effort to bolster existing pre-K programs. Although many of us argued this did not go far enough, it became clear that this was the best solution that the majority would embrace, and it passed with a 129-18 vote. It remains significant that we came together to create a new program to invest in kids across Texas.
Unfortunately, this victory was not nearly enough.
Although I am excited to see how districts take advantage of the grants, our kids demand a far bolder change of course.
Last year, the National Institute for Early Education Research released a study showing that Texas ranks dead last in the country in delivering quality pre-K. In the 10 policies of its quality standards checklist, Texas met only two — for teacher in-service and early learning standards. In areas from class size to teacher specialization, we continue to fall woefully short.
A trend is emerging when it comes to P-20 education: optional preschool is becoming a thing of the past. As a nation, we’re finally beginning to accept that preschool is beneficial—even necessary—for the success of most American children. It’s why Obama has invested billions in early childhood education, and Presidential hopefuls such as Hillary Clinton are emphatic about preschool’s importance.
As someone who has extensively written about preschool-related initiatives on this site, I’ve seen enough to uncover some unexpected benefits that come from early childhood education.
Over the course of last year's Legislative Session, I was proud to see quality pre-K improvements be thrust into the spotlight as a bipartisan priority. Through emotional and sometimes heated debate, we were able to approve House Bill 4, a grant program of $130 million to Texas schools, in an effort to bolster existing pre-K programs.
Although many of us argued this did not go far enough, it became clear that this was the best solution that the majority would embrace, and it passed with a 129-18 vote. It remains significant that we came together to create a new program to invest in kids across Texas. Unfortunately, this victory was not nearly enough.
Although I am excited to see how districts take advantage of the available grants, our kids demand a far bolder change of course.
Last year, the National Institute for Early Education Research released a study showing that Texas ranks dead last in the country in delivering quality pre-K. In the ten policies of its quality standards checklist, Texas met only two- for teacher in-service and early learning standards. In areas from class size to teacher specialization, we continue to fall woefully short.
The Education Commission of the States (ECS) recently released its annual report on state pre-K funding for the 2015-2016 year, highlighting a nationwide trend in increased funding allocations by states on pre-K programming for the fourth year in a row. Almost two-thirds of states plus the District of Columbia funded pre-K at higher levels last year than the year prior, which could mean improved access and quality for many of the nation’s youngest learners.
D.C. is the leader of the pack on pre-K funding by a wide margin, allocating $12,407 per prekindergartener, according to the ECS report. The next closest is New Jersey, funding at $10,000 less ($2,943 per capita) by comparison. Arizona increased its overall funding by 116%—the highest nationwide—allocating an additional $19 million last year compared to the year prior. Five states in the U.S. still do not invest at all in pre-K programming: Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming. (Although, Montana was awarded a federal Preschool Development Grant.) Despite these five holdouts, overall state funding in pre-K programs increased last year by $755 million from the 2014-2015 spending levels to a total of nearly $7 billion.
What does this 12 percent overall increase in spending translate into in real terms? It depends. Pre-K programs vary widely state-to-state. In recent years states have implemented options including universal pre-K, targeted pre-K for children from low-income families, dual language learners, or with special needs, pre-K for three- and four-year olds, full-day pre-K, part-day pre-K, and other school readiness programs, to name a few.
– As preschool teachers oversee the development of dozens of kids each day, many are struggling to feed their own families. A 2014 Center for the Study of Child Care Employment report found preschool teachers typically make just $6 an hour more than fast-food workers, and a new report from the National Association for the Education of Young Children shows many people think preschool teachers deserve more pay. So we checked in on some of our local teachers to see if what’s happening across the country could be the case here at home.
Sarah Jecks teaches at George O. Barr, a Silvis public school. She says when kids start preschool, they don’t know it all. “The skills that they bring in are just language,” Jecks said, “and a giant curiosity for anything and everything.” By kindergarten, they usually know a lot more.
There are currently 14,000 quality pre-K seats and 42,500 3-to-5-year- olds in Philadelphia, according to the latest report from the Philadelphia Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten.
The 17-person commission held a public hearing yesterday to welcome feedback on its most recent report, published earlier this month. The report discussed options for blending local, state and federal funding to pump the number of quality, publicly funded pre-K seats in the city. The commission, created through a massive 80 percent vote during last May’s primary, pegs the cost of a pre-K budget for the city at $60 million annually. Kenney, who not only backs universal pre-K but campaigned on it, is expected to announce potential funding streams in his upcoming budget address.
Philadelphia’s universal pre-K system, a long called-for educational option in line with the widespread scholarship touting the benefits of early childhood education, would cover 3- to 5- year-olds. The commission, whose members are essentially the architects of the city’s program, is studying which methods would be best to create more quality seats.
Washington state’s preschool program has received kudos for its efforts to improve quality, but it gets poor marks for the small number of kids benefiting from high-quality preschools.
The new director of the Washington Department of Early Learning says he wants to address that by improving the quality of more preschools and securing more funding from the Legislature. . .
The Washington Department of Early Learning estimates that 3,200 low-income 4-year-olds are still in need of a state-funded, high-quality preschool. Washington state ranks 33rd in the nation for access to state preschool for low-income 4-year-olds, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research, which conducts an annual review of preschool programs. The same organization consistently gives Washington high scores for quality. Hunter thinks he can also increase the number of kids in quality preschools by getting quality information in the hands of parents and helping more child care centers improve their programs through the Early Achievers program.