Early Education in the News

New America EdCentral
May 13, 2016

Today the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) released its 2015 State of Preschool yearbook. This annual report presents helpful data on the state of pre-K programs nationally as well as breakdowns of each state’s progress in providing high-quality pre-K services to three- and four-year-olds.

The report details modest gains in pre-K access, quality, and funding across the nation. Average state spending per child enrolled in pre-K increased by $287 in 2015 to a national average of $4,489 per child. This is the third straight year in which average spending has increased, though average spending levels are still lower than they were in 2002 and 2004 (as depicted below). Nationwide, state spending on pre-K rose by about $553 million in 2015, an increase of 10 percent. It’s important to note however, that two-thirds of this funding increase is the result of New York City’s rapid expansion of full-day pre-K under the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The Washington Post
May 13, 2016

Universal quality pre-kindergarten has been gaining support around the country for years now, with solid research showing that it has real and lasting benefits for children — despite what critics argue. But, according to a new report, there is a real problem  — while states are making real progress, others are moving at a snail’s pace.

The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University just released its “The State of Preschool 2015,” which details national and state-level data on preschool access and other issues. (You can read it in full here or below.) In this post, W. Steven Barnett, a Board of Governors professor and director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, writes about the report’s findings. You can also see key findings at the bottom of the post.

May 13, 2016

The more things change, the more they stay the same. At least that's my takeaway from the National Institute for Early Education Research's annual Pre-K Yearbook, released today. For over a decade, NIEER's Yearbook has offered the most comprehensive national picture of state-funded pre-K policies, funding and access nationally. If you want to know how many states fund education for 3- and 4-year-olds, how many kids they serve, how much they spend or what kinds of entities can offer pre-K – this is the place to look.

This year's edition, which covers data from the 2014-15 school year, finds little change in national pre-K access from the previous year. A few states – most significantly New York – expanded access to pre-K in 2014-15, but cuts in other states largely counterbalanced this growth. This is becoming a pattern. After growing rapidly in the 2000s, state pre-K programs consistently served about 29 percent of 4-year-olds nationally from 2010-2015. The apparent stability in pre-K access reflects underlying instability at the state level, however. Each year some states cut funds and enrollment while others increase them, and year-to-year pre-K funding often fluctuates significantly within individual states.

May 13, 2016

An annual study shows Arkansas dropped from a ranking of 13 to 22 among states in the nation devoting resources to pre-kindergarten education. The National Institute for Early Education Research found that spending increased for pre-K nationwide in 2015 compared to the previous year, but Arkansas saw about a $1,255 decrease in spending per child despite having about 3,400 more kids enrolled in a pre-K program.

Steve Barnett, director of the NIEER, says the per-child funding decrease hasn’t always been the case. “Historically, Arkansas has been a leader [in offering pre-K]. Arkansas has had greater access for four-year olds and especially three-year olds. But what’s happened since 2008, really, is that the program hasn’t had substantial real increase in funding,” he says. According to the NIEER, last year the state spent $4,372 for every child enrolled in a pre-K program. That was down from a high of $6,165 in 2006.

May 13, 2016

For the tenth year in a row, Alabama’s state-funded, high-quality and voluntary First Class Pre-K program was named the nation’s highest quality pre-kindergarten program. Today’s announcement was made by the National Institute for Early Childhood Education, which annually ranks state pre-k programs for quality based on ten measures. Alabama’s voluntary pre-k program is one of only ten states in the nation to meet or exceed all ten NIEER benchmarks, and only the second state to do so in ten consecutive years. Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program is managed by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.

The Alabama School Readiness Alliance and its Pre-K Task Force, which advocates for the expansion of Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program, applauded today’s announcement while pointing out that too many families who want to enroll their four-year-old in the program still lack access to a classroom in their community. “We congratulate state leaders and Alabama First Class Pre-K teachers for building and maintaining the nation's highest quality pre-k program," said Bob Powers, president of The Eufaula Agency and the co-chair of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance. "It takes a strong commitment from everyone involved to reach this milestone for ten consecutive years."

Huffington Post
May 13, 2016

Slowly but steadily, states are making progress in the number of students they serve in high-quality, state-funded pre-kindergarten programs. However, this progress is uneven, and leaves out droves of impressionable learners. On Thursday, the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University released its annual report on the state of preschool across America. The group has been tracking the number of children served by public preschool programs since the 2001-2002 school year. The latest report looks at the 2014 -2015 school year and presents an uneven picture of how the country is doing when it comes to serving little learners, although there are some bright spots. . . 

“State pre-K is still far from where it needs to be to ensure that all children receive a high quality education during the year (or two) before kindergarten,” says the report. “If young children are to receive the high quality education that leaves a sustained impact, state policies will have to change. Standards must be raised. Funding should be increased and stabilized. This will happen only if policy makers recognize that high quality pre-K is a necessity, not a luxury that can be passed over when the budget gets tight.”

Education Week
May 12, 2016

Total spending on public preschool has surpassed pre-recession levels for the first time since the 2008 downturn, adjusting for inflation, according to the latest data release from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), a think tank in New Jersey focused on early education. 

The 42 states with public preschool programs and the District of Columbia spent $6.2 billion to serve 1.4 million 3- and 4-year-olds in the 2014-15 school year. Total enrollment increased by a single percentage point, from 28 percent to 29 percent of 4-year-olds and from 4 percent to 5 percent of 3-year-olds, since 2010.

"This year's rate of progress is not enough to bring high quality pre-K to every child any time soon," the report concludes.

Some states are making big strides, though. New York City's new universal preschool programfor 4-year-olds had a notable impact on this year's findings. The city alone enrolled more than 12,000 additional children in preschool in 2014-15. Including enrollment increases outside the state capital, New York state accounted for two-thirds of the national spending increase and enrolled 5 percent more children in 2014-15 than in 2013-14.

The District of Columbia, Florida,Oklahoma, Vermont, and West Virginia lead the country in preschool access for 4-year-olds. Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming continue to not have a state preschool program, though several of these states do have local, district-based programs.

ABC News
May 12, 2016

The number of 3- and 4-year-olds in state-funded classrooms rose slightly during the 2014-15 school year to almost 1.4 million, according to a national preschool report released Thursday.

The report from the National Institute for Early Education Research found a wide range in per-pupil spending and quality of programs, with New Jersey spending $12,149 for each child enrolled in pre-K compared with $2,304 in Florida and $1,981 in South Carolina.

Total enrollment in 2014-2015 increased by 37,167 from the previous year.

Enrollment in state-funded preschool dipped in several states, including Texas, Florida and Wisconsin.

"States announce that they're making some initiative and then the next year they take a couple of steps backward," said Steve Barnett, director of the early education institute, which is based at Rutgers University in New Jersey. "If states simply never went backward, the rates of progress would be much, much faster."

The institute, which advocates for early childhood education, is under contract with the National Center for Education Statistics to conduct an annual preschool survey.

The report tracks quality measures such as class sizes and teacher-training requirements. Several states including California, Florida and Texas do not require preschool teachers to have a college degree.

Santa Fe New Mexican
May 12, 2016

A new report on early childhood education lauds New Mexico, a state that regularly ranks at the bottom of national surveys on child well-being, for increasing its investments in pre-kindergarten programs and increasing its pre-K enrollment.

The state moved up 10 spots in the 2015 State Preschool Yearbook, a report by the National Institute of Early Education Research at Rutgers University. New Mexico improved to 18 from 28 among states, largely because of its commitment to increasing funds for early education — one of the most divisive political issues in the state. Eight states, the report noted, weren’t included because they have no state preschool programs.

The report comes as state officials and early childhood advocates told lawmakers on the Legislative Finance Committee about plans to continue expanding the state’s pre-K programs.

The State Preschool Yearbook was released Thursday. According to an early draft obtained by The New Mexican on Wednesday, New Mexico PreK, the state’s early education program, met eight out of 10 minimum quality standards set by the institute. The report also gives the state credit for supporting dual-language programs at the pre-K level.

In 2014-15, New Mexico had 8,397 4-year-olds enrolled in pre-K programs — up 9.4 percent, or about 725 students, from the previous year. Total spending on pre-K, based on 2014-15 data, was almost $40 million.


May 12, 2016

For publicly funded preschool, last year was a good year. In some schools.

The National Institute for Early Education Research has just released its annual The State of Preschool report. Spending per child is up, enrollment is up slightly and more states met the benchmarks for quality standards.

But that good report card depends on where you live.  

“Access to high-quality pre-K remains low and highly unequal,” said Steve Barnett, director of the the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Some states like New York are making major gains. "In two years, New York has achieved, in the expansion of high-quality, full-day pre-K, what the country as a whole might take 150 years to achieve," Barnett said. "And that really is a New York minute."

Oklahoma has provided universal pre-K for many years. And Washington, D.C. has moved to the head of the pack for raising its standards of quality. 

But three of the country’s largest states — California, Florida and Texas — have among the country’s weakest quality standards, the report says. And both Florida and Texas cut funding for public preschool last year and the year before. 

There are consequences for inadequate funding. “Kids who start a year, a year and a half behind, don’t catch up by third grade,” Barnett said.

International Business Times
May 11, 2016

Babies do more than pee, poop, coo and cuddle. They also cost — a lot.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton took on the climbing cost of raising a child Tuesday in a package of proposals aimed at improving child care in the United States. Her plan, to be revealed at a campaign stop in Kentucky, would increase child care workers’ pay and expand home visit programs, the Huffington Post reported. It would also make it so no family spends more than 10 percent of its income on child care, which has been called the largest annual household expense for American families.

Clinton’s campaign hadn’t yet said Tuesday how it planned to pay for the plan, which an aide told the Wall Street Journal would include mixing federal spending with tax breaks. But the sheer fact that Clinton is introducing the topic into the 2016 presidential race could accomplish something on its own: ​It could spread more awareness about the high cost of child care. 

PBS Newshour
May 11, 2016

 A new report due out later this week from the National Institute on Early Education Research finds that a number of states are struggling to find ways to improve access to high quality pre-kindergarten.

Tonight, we look at a unique approach taken by a preschool in Seattle, Washington. It’s giving children life lessons that go beyond the classroom, and providing a unique opportunity to seniors.

U.S. News & World Report
May 11, 2016

At first glance, the new poll results Gallup released last week on early childhood and higher education seem pretty straightforward. Reported with the headline "Americans Buy Free Pre-K; Split on Tuition-Free College," the poll found that 59 percent of Americans now support free early childhood programs while less than half (47 percent) support free college tuition. But a closer look behind Gallup's "Free Pre-K" headline reveals something peculiar: The poll didn't ask about pre-K. It asked about "child care and pre-kindergarten programs," encompassing a range of programs for children from birth to age 5. So in fact, Gallup has no idea if 59 percent of Americans support public pre-K, because their poll didn't ask that question.

This isn't the first time Gallup has gotten its headlines and questions confused in polls on early childhood. In 2014, it reported poll findings that "70% Favor Federal Funds To Expand Pre-K Education," concluding: "The public seems to agree with Obama's push for expanding preschool education in more areas of the country." A subsequent U.S. News & World Report article entitled "Americans Favor Federal Support of Pre-K" cited the poll as public backing of Obama's proposal to "make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old," adding an enthusiastic comment from Randi Weingarten, president of one of the two national teachers unions, reiterating broad support for adding pre-K to the nation's schools. But just like the 2016 version, the 2014 poll didn't ask respondents even one question about pre-K. What it did ask them was their views on "high-quality preschool programs," which include child care, home visiting and other early education programs for children from birth to age 5.

The Columbia Chronicle
May 9, 2016

A recent study from the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis highlights how students’ socioeconomic status and race relate to their educational development, according to an April 29 New York Times article.

The study indicates that students low on the socioeconomic spectrum perform as much as three grade levels behind where they should be. It also revealed race-related disparities in grade levels even among students of the same socioeconomic background.

May 9, 2016

Half of Bobbie Hedrick's salary goes towards paying for daycare. "As a single parent, I can attest to how difficult it is to make ends meet with the high costs (of child care)," she said.The Warsaw, Kentucky resident said she spends roughly $750 a month just to make sure her two kids have quality supervision while she is at work. The cost and availability of child care doesn't affect only those with children in daycare. It's one of two key reasons why all kinds of companies across the Cincinnati region are having a hard time finding the right candidates to fill the area's 25,000 unfilled jobs. (The other overarching local problem, no matter the sector in which an employer operates, is a lack of public transportation to job sites.)

Columbia Daily Tribune
May 9, 2016

Raise Your Hand for Kids turned in 320,000 signatures Saturday to place its proposal on the November ballot. The petition needs about 168,000 signatures from registered voters. If passed by voters, it would raise about $300 million annually, with the bulk of the funds going to grants supporting pre-kindergarten education programs offered by public schools and private organizations.

About a quarter of the money will go to health programs for young children and smoking cessation programs.

San Antonio Express News
May 8, 2016

With Elmo and Cookie Monster in his corner, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro is hoping to boost support for pre-kindergarten programs across the country with a bipartisan caucus that draws on San Antonio’s experiences with childhood learning.

Castro, D-San Antonio, is spearheading the new Congressional Pre-K Caucus at a time when states and localities are struggling to fund pre-K programs and skepticism still exists.

Times Daily
May 8, 2016

The expansion of the state’s pre-kindergarten program could mean more classes offered to local 4-year-olds.

The Alabama Legislature approved a $16 million expansion of the state’s voluntary First Class Pre-K program, with funding coming from the Education Trust Fund budget.

Gov. Robert Bentley originally asked for a $20 million increase, but Pre-K advocates said they are pleased with the $16 million appropriation which, combined with a $17.5 million federal Preschool Development Grant, will add 155 additional classrooms around the state for next school year.



The Huffington Post [Op-Ed]
May 6, 2016

Early educators are quite literally shaping the future - our children’s future, our families’ future, and the future of our economy—and they’re a key part of our nation’s teaching workforce. Indeed, the National Academies of Sciences asserts that working with children under five requires as complex knowledge and skills as teaching older children. Yet our nation’s early educators are often struggling to feed their own families due to stagnant, unlivable wages. Many child care workers earn only the minimum wage. The median wage for all child care workers didn’t reach $15.00 per hour in a single state. Not surprisingly, early educators report high levels of economic worry. A study in one state found that nearly 50 percent of teachers reported worrying about having enough food for their families, including many teachers who had a college degree. According to the most recent, comprehensive national study, the median wage for an early educator with a bachelor’s degree or higher working in center-based programs was just $13.50 per hour.

Nearly one half of those employed as child care workers live in families relying on at least one federal income support, such as food stamps, to augment their low wages and meet their families’ needs — this is double the national average for workers in the U.S. Reliance on these supports is highest among those with children under five.

MetroParent Daily
May 5, 2016

Think it’s time for your child to go to preschool? Maybe you’re not sure if your little one should go to preschool. And anyway, how much does it cost to send them to an early childhood program? For all of these questions, the local early ed experts have answers!