Early Education in the News

The Bradford Era
July 13, 2015

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is continuing a several-year push to open up preschool to more children and hopes such an amendment could be included in a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act.

“If children learn more earlier in life they will earn more later in their lives,” Casey said in an emailed statement to The Era on Thursday. “Investing in locally driven, high-quality pre-k is good for children and good for the future of our economy."

Roll Call: Beltway Insiders
July 13, 2015

At-risk kids who can’t access high-quality preschool experiences face an early deficit of their own — except the stakes are much higher than the outcome of a basketball game.

Without the benefit of quality early education, children’s math and literacy skills can be up to 18 months behind those of their more-advantaged peers by the time these kids start kindergarten. Adults may not see an 18-month deficit as insurmountable, but remember that a year and a half represents nearly one-third of a 5-year-old’s life.

That’s a huge disadvantage. Far worse than being down by 13 points in a basketball game. These children might be scrambling to catch up for the rest of their education — and possibly for the rest of their lives.

That’s bad for the children, bad for their teachers and bad for the country.

Herald Media
July 10, 2015

Parents, grandparents, siblings and friends gathered Wednesday in Orem to celebrate their young loved ones' completion of the free preschool program UPSTART. They join thousands around the state in final assessment evaluations and graduation programs that will continue throughout the month.

UPSTART is a computer-based program that features educational activities in math and science with an emphasis in reading. Children use it for 15 minutes a day, five days a week and can practice early literacy skills at their own pace. Nearly 15 percent of Utah’s preschoolers participated in UPSTART this year.

Reading Eagle
July 10, 2015

Lawmakers are working on major changes to the No Child Left Behind law, and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. is hoping one of his ideas will make it into the rewrite of the law.

The Scranton Democrat has introduced an amendment that would fund universal preschool education by ending a corporate tax loophole that allows American companies to claim they are headquartered overseas to avoid paying their fair share. He predicts that the five-year federal and state partnership could bring an additional $30 billion to the tax rolls.

Philly.com
July 10, 2015

It's easier today for parents to gauge the development of a young child. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even put out a checklist of development stages that parents can download to make comparisons. . .

Statistics show poor children enter school well behind their more affluent classmates and typically continue to lose ground academically from that point on. Some research also suggests that the younger the child, the greater the impact of growing up in poverty and being deprived of a nurturing environment that encourages learning. That underscores the importance of a new program, "A Running Start Philadelphia," whose goal is to provide high-quality early-learning opportunities for every Philadelphia child from birth to age 5. The initiative is part of Shared Prosperity Philadelphia, the antipoverty program Mayor Nutter started two years ago.
 

KOIN 6 News
July 9, 2015

But new legislation now on Gov. Kate Brown’s desk will make more funding available to families, including those really struggling.

“It allows a mix of programs that meet quality standards, to apply for state funding to offer preschool to low income (families of) 3- and 4-year-olds,” said Swati Adarkar of the Children’s Institute.

The funding will roll out over the next 2 years and mandates that preschools meet quality standards, “things like classroom ratios, teacher qualificiations, and things along those lines,” she said. “The other thing is being able to meet the needs of a diverse population.”

The funding will provide about 1500 more kids the ability to attend preschool or Head Start programs.Currently, Oregon has 32,000 low income children without access to high quality preschool.

Yakima Herald
July 9, 2015

Steve Myers had been sitting on the good news since April: Educational Service District 105 in partnership with two other agencies would win a coveted $63 million grant to offer and expand Head Start programs in a large swath of Central Washington.

With final negotiations among various parties finally complete this month, the superintendent was free to announce Tuesday a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand early childhood education services.

“Research says the brain’s more active at birth to 8 years old and children can learn more,” Myers told dozens who attended Tuesday’s news conference at the ESD 105 headquarters in Yakima.

SRCD
July 9, 2015

On April 29, 2015, SRCD was represented by Drs. Kimberly Brenneman and Alissa Lange at a congressional poster exhibition and reception on Investments in STEM Research and Education: Fueling American InnovationDr. Alissa Lange, who is at the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, and Dr. Kimberly Brenneman who previously worked with Dr. Lange at NIEER and now works at the Heising-Simons Foundation, presented a poster on STEM Professional Development for Early Childhood Teachers. Their NSF-supported research involves the development and preliminary testing of a professional development approach that integrates high-quality math and science instruction for all learners with supports for preschool dual language learners.

Think Progress
July 8, 2015

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey (D) is offering an amendment to the bipartisan rewrite of No Child Left Behind that would provide universal pre-K for five years. The amendment would close the corporate tax inversions loophole in order to fund it. That would provide around $30 billion in funding, which Casey’s office based off of the $33.5 billion that would be saved if the Stop Corporate Inversions Act of 2014 passed. . .

Forty percent of kids in pre-K had programs that met less than half of NIEER’s quality standards. Last year’s report showed that for the first time since NIEER reported on pre-K programs in 2002, the number of children enrolled in those programs fell in the 2012-2013 school year, with 9,160 fewer four-year-olds in pre-K programs.

89.3 KPCC
July 8, 2015

Support for universal preschool is spreading around the country, but relatively few places have set up systems where all kids from infants to 5-year-olds can attend child care. That's not the case in Scandinavian countries like Norway and Denmark where early child care for all has been around for decades and is taken for granted by taxpayers.

School Library Journal
July 7, 2015

While these library programs are often provided on a drop-in, come-and-go basis, a summer program at the New Brunswick (NJ) Free Public Library is taking another step toward a more structured format.Math and Science Story Time (MASST) uses stories, songs, and activities to engage preschoolers and their parents in math and science concepts drawn from the New Jersey Department of Education Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards.

Developed by Alissa Lange, an assistant research professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, the program runs for eight weeks and features themes, such as “Do You Know How Plants Grow?” and “Are You Taller Than a Tiger?” Lange considered offering free books to families who attended at least four sessions as an incentive. But then she decided to give them a book to take home after each session that was related to the topic, and complemented the handout given to parents with ideas for at-home activities.

“We wanted to capitalize on this opportunity to get more high-quality, age-appropriate, bilingual or Spanish-language STEM-themed books into the home—especially books on topics that the children were already excited about,” Lange says. “It was the most well-attended program at the children’s library, apart from their annual summer reading kickoff event, and the only Spanish-language program available.” Lange is now working on linking MASST to local preschool classrooms—almost as an extension of the curriculum—since preschool teachers bring their classes into the library once a week anyway during the spring.

TwinCities.com
July 7, 2015

Minnesota's widely debated preschool scholarship program may reach fewer children next year despite millions in new spending.

The anticipated dip in recipients may be short-lived. It would follow Monday's announcement by Brenda Cassellius, state education commissioner, that she will increase the scholarship cap to $7,500 per student.

That means eligible families receiving assistance will likely get more money to cover the cost of public and private preschool programs. The scholarships are aimed at boosting kindergarten readiness to close the achievement gap between poor and minority students and their classmates.

MetroKids
July 6, 2015

It’s official: Child care providers play an integral role in setting the stage for children’s future success.

“In the past 20 years there has been a huge influx of preschool studies that have honed in on the science behind education and improving child outcomes,” says Shannon Riley-Ayers, an early childhood research professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. In looking at how teachers provide emotional and instructional support, enhance cognitive development and approach educating the whole child, one thing became abundantly clear: “Teaching quality is a big component” toward long-term student success, she reports.

That’s why it’s imperative to select just the right child care provider for your preschooler. As monumental as the task is, however, the search doesn’t have to be stressful if you know what to look for.

Phys.org
July 6, 2015

A new McKell Institute report shows Australia is being left behind by other developed nations that treat childcare as a vital early childhood education opportunity for all, and not simply 'babysitting' for mothers returning to the workforce. he report, Baby Steps or Giant Strides?, authored by leading national early childhood experts from the University of New South Wales Professor Deborah Brennan and Dr Elizabeth Adamson, identifies serious flaws with the Federal Government's new childcare package, announced in the latest federal budget. . .

"The government's new policy treats childcare as a regrettable necessity, required mainly to get women back into the workforce. Globally, however, early childhood education and care is seen as critical not just in promoting workforce participation, but in creating foundations for learning. It's seen as a means of boosting the capacity of the rising generation to contribute to national prosperity, and creating happy lives for the children of today.
 

Stryk
July 6, 2015

Idaho lawmakers could to be asked next January to come up with money for preschool programs designed to prepare children for kindergarten.

A coalition of working and former Idaho CEOs and other advocates of early childhood education hopes to present a proposal that would seek state dollars to help pay for community-based preschool.

It would be the third straight year that a request for preschool funding has come before the Legislature. For the past two years, and in earlier years, lawmakers were unwilling to put up money. They were concerned that state-supported preschool would trample on parents' rights and responsibilities to take care of early childhood education needs in their own families, and they did not want to risk pulling money out of public education to support it.

Heartland.org
July 6, 2015

Congressional leaders are attempting to pass a reworked bill reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA) would reauthorize ESEA and “continue annual measurements of academic progress of students while restoring to states, school districts, classroom teachers, and parents the responsibility of deciding what to do about improving student achievement, which should produce fewer tests and more appropriate ways to measure student achievement,” said the aide. “[This is the] most effective path to advance higher state standards, better teaching, and real accountability. . . ”

Snell and McCluskey both say ESEA is not the place to increase funding of early childhood education, as the bill’s language suggests.

“Early education should not be addressed through ESEA,” Snell said. “There are myriad other early education funding streams from the federal government, from Head Start to the Early Education block grant. They should not be duplicated in K–12 funding. Any changes, expansions, or improvements to early education should be done by first streamlining and coalescing the existing federal early education programs.”

Rutland Herald
July 6, 2015

About a third of all Vermont school districts are moving ahead this fall with universal access to public pre-kindergarten, and many other districts aren’t far behind in complying with legislation that mandates universal pre-K by the 2016-17 school year.

Passed last year, Act 166 requires every school district to provide access to at least 10 hours per week of free pre-K for all children ages 3 to 5 not in kindergarten during the school year, either by running an in-house program or paying tuition to independent providers.

In November, school districts were granted a one-year extension to comply. Agency of Education officials realized they couldn’t set the law’s administrative rules in time for districts to use them while budgeting for the 2015-16 school year.

School Library Journal
July 2, 2015
Last fall, the Queens Library in New York City became what is thought to be the first library in the country to open a pre–K class, in its Woodhaven branch. Teachers Andrea Clemente and Lisa Bohme meet with their students in a spacious room on the ground floor and are taking full advantage of the library’s resources. The children’s librarian visits the students frequently, playing his guitar and teaching them how to use iPads. The students have also had visits from subject-area experts, such as the science exhibit supervisor for the library system. Of course, they also have access to books, lots of books.
“On a weekly basis we take the children to the library so they can pick a book to take home for the weekend,” Clemente says. “They look forward to this activity every week.”...
 
The Queens program is part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to serve more than 73,000 four-year-olds in universal pre–K. The fact that schools have limited space for additional classrooms is not standing in the way. To meet the goal, the city is bringing pre–K to non-traditional spaces, with public libraries taking a role...

Libraries are also becoming providers of STEM-focused experiences for adults and children, through science exhibitions and out-of-school programs such as maker spaces and robotics workshops. These services are considered critical in supporting children’s learning and attracting them to STEM-related careers.

While these library programs are often provided on a drop-in, come-and-go basis, a summer program at the New Brunswick (NJ) Free Public Library is taking another step toward a more structured format.Math and Science Story Time (MASST) uses stories, songs, and activities to engage preschoolers and their parents in math and science concepts drawn from the New Jersey Department of Education Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards.

Developed by Alissa Lange, an assistant research professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, the program runs for eight weeks and features themes, such as “Do You Know How Plants Grow?” and “Are You Taller Than a Tiger?” Lange considered offering free books to families who attended at least four sessions as an incentive. But then she decided to give them a book to take home after each session that was related to the topic, and complemented the handout given to parents with ideas for at-home activities...

It’s a winning situation for everyone, [Nick Buron] says, adding that the pre–K parents often arrive every day with other children in tow. “When you provide universal pre–K, you’re really able to help the whole family,” he says. “These are our customers as well.”

With the Queens Library showing how a partnership between the library and a growing pre–K system can work, it’s likely that other communities will implement similar models in the future. Not only can libraries help meet the demand for space, but, as Neuman says, opening pre–K classes in libraries “would send an important message about the power of literacy and books to promote learning.”

Washington Post
July 2, 2015

Can kids really learn as much from “Sesame Street” as from preschool?

Recently, a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research titled “Early Childhood Education by MOOC: Lessons From Sesame Street,” prompted media stories, including one in The Washington Post, saying that “Sesame Street” can be as effective as preschool in lifting student achievement...

The authors examine differences in access to “Sesame Street” when and after it was first launched in 1969 in areas of the United States that had VHF, and other areas that had the weaker UHF, which did not reliably carry the station that broadcast the show. This comparison in broadcast strength was then matched with what the research said were student outcomes in an effort to show that kids in those areas where the show was broadcast had better academic outcomes that were statistically significant than in those areas where the broadcast signal was weak and where it was likely the kids didn’t see as much of “Sesame Street.”

The authors said they did not actually know whether kids in either group watched “Sesame Street”; just that it was more available, and that they were able to factor out other causes for the difference in  outcomes for students...

In fact, there is at best scant evidence that blended learning is a successful model. Besides that, Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, wrote in an e-mail:

To believe their results you have to believe that TV teaching through Sesame Street has a much deeper and more profound effect on the child than a teacher. What is the theory that would explain this?  They do not have a theory or explain how their results are consistent with the larger body of knowledge about learning and teaching. This is the most disturbing aspect of the paper.

Office of Gov. Mark Dayton & Lt. Gov. Tina Smith
July 2, 2015
During the 2015 Legislative Session, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature made important new investments in E-12 education. Many of those new investments take effect today, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. The $525 million investment enacted this year will increase funding for every Minnesota classroom, improve early learning opportunities, improve literacy, and provide needed new resources for American Indian education and English language learners. New school funding enacted this session is directed toward strategies proven to help close achievement gaps, raise graduation rates, and improve career and college readiness.
 
“This year, we made important new investments in education that will improve educational opportunities for students across Minnesota,” said Governor Dayton. “We have a lot more work to do to close achievement gaps in Minnesota, and provide excellent educations for every student. I will remain fiercely committed to that important work in the years ahead.”
 
“We have made significant progress in our work to provide an excellent education to every child in Minnesota,” said Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. “The investments in our youngest learners, in our American Indian students and in our students learning English will help us to further reduce achievement gaps and prepare kids for career and college.”
 
The following is a summary of new education investments made this session, and the impact those investments will have on Minnesota students, families, and teachers...

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