Early Education in the News
Mississippi was the only state in the South and one of only 11 nationwide with no state-funded preschool program when lawmakers agreed earlier this year to create one, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. At least twice before, lawmakers passed a preschool program but failed to fund it.
Growing mountains of research suggest that the best way to address American economic inequality, poverty and crime is — you guessed it! — early education programs, including coaching of parents who want help. It’s not a magic wand, but it’s the best tool we have to break cycles of poverty. President Obama called in his State of the Union address for such a national initiative, but it hasn’t gained traction. Obama himself hasn’t campaigned enough for it, yet there’s still a reed of hope.
One reason is that this is one of those rare initiatives that polls well across the spectrum, with support from 84 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Republicans in a recent national survey. And even if the program stalls in Washington, states and localities are moving ahead — from San Antonio to Michigan. Colorado voters will decide next month next month on a much-watched ballot measure to bolster education spending, including in preschool, and a ballot measure in Memphis would expand preschool as well.
The classroom [at Gerald Wright Elementary School] was one of 12 new public preschool programs added this year in Granite School District through a results-based funding expansion approved this summer by the County Council....Under the county's financing model — similar to one proposed at the state level that failed to gain lawmakers' support — private investors loan funding to the county for preschool services, which is then repaid with interest if the program proves successful at maintaining students at grade level through third grade.
Two education advocacy groups proposed an eight-year program this morning to establish quality full-day pre-kindergarten programs in all of New York's school systems.
The proposal by the Campaign for Educational Equity and the Center for Children's Initiatives would enable districts to offer two years of full-day pre-k -- for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds.
While preschool, on the surface, might seem superfluous, filled with running around on the playground and imaginary play, it actually has a powerful and lasting effect on children’s future earnings. The effects are so profound that a free preschool program for disadvantaged children would help reduce inequality and increase overall earnings (and tax revenues). That’s the conclusion of a paper from Nobel Laureate James Heckman, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, and Lakshmi Raut, an economist at the Social Security Administration. “Preschool investment significantly boosts cognitive and non-cognitive skills, which enhance earnings and school outcomes,” they write in a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Previous research has found that some children develop behavior problems at child care centers and preschools, despite the benefit of academic gains. It was never known, however, why some youngsters struggle in these settings and others flourish. The new study indicates that some children may be acting out due to poor self-control and temperament problems that they inherited from their parents.
Research is in on the importance of early childhood education, but it remains out of reach for many. . . . So people such as Sally Cicotte and YMCAs in low-income communities across the country are doing what they can, with the collaboration of the mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbors who take care of babies and preschoolers all day. . . .Kimberly Brenneman, assistant research professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research, said some of the information for caregivers wasn’t necessarily self-evident for someone without a background in child development. For example, she said, when reading a story, it’s important to ask questions to get the child talking and thinking about how the story connects to the child’s world. . . . W. Steven Barnett, the director of the institute, and Cynthia E. Lamy, a senior fellow, wrote in “Closing the Opportunity Gap,” a recent book on education policy, that children in poverty can be 12 to 18 months behind the average child by the time they enter kindergarten. The authors argue that preschool must be high quality, with high standards and good teachers, to have lasting impacts.
Kentucky has the most restrictive income guidelines and is one of only two states that has a freeze on applications for its child care assistance program for working parents, according to a new report released Wednesday. The National Women's Law Center, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, released its annual report on states' child care assistance programs. The programs are designed to help poor parents pay for child care so they can work or go to school and stay off public assistance programs.
During the recession, states made cuts to child care assistance programs as the economy and tax revenues tanked. But the National Women's Law Center report shows many states are restoring cuts to the program. Kentucky is the exception.
Nearly two decades ago, a landmark study found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than those of less educated parents . . . Now a follow-up study has found a language gap as early as 18 months, heightening the policy debate. . . . In the latest data available from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, 28 percent of all 4-year-olds in the United States were enrolled in state-financed preschool in the 2010-11 school year, and just 4 percent of 3-year-olds.
The National Governors Association, in a report this month calling on states to ensure that all children can read proficiently by third grade, urges lawmakers to increase access to high-quality child care and prekindergarten classes and to invest in programs for children from birth through age 5. Even these simple principles may be hard to implement, some educators say, because preschool instructors are often paid far less than public schoolteachers and receive scant training. . . . “There is a lot of wishful thinking about how easy it is, that if you just put kids in any kind of program that this will just happen,” said W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, referring to the development of strong vocabularies and other preliteracy skills.
Though it’s an issue traditionally loved by the left, pre-K has recently planted itself solidly in the center with more federal, statewide and local Republican and Democratic candidates extolling its benefits and calling for more on the campaign trail....Nearly everyone agrees that more early education is a good idea, said Megan Carolan, policy research coordinator at the National Institute for Early Education Research.
“‘Education reform movement’ can be an explosive term, but pre-K doesn’t necessarily fit neatly into any of those holes,” she said. “It’s a whole different animal.”
While Latinos are the largest minority group in US public schools, they have the lowest enrollment in early education programs. Although Latino children make up one in four children under the age of 5, less than half of Latino children are enrolled in any early learning program - and not all are part of a good quality program.
The state spends millions of dollars every year to send babies and young children to day care centers without monitoring them to determine if they are safe and without requiring that they provide anything of educational value.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is proposing to change this. In the state’s bid for $37.5 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top competition, the administration is asking for money to transform how Connecticut pays for early child care and education.
Stressed pre-school teachers complained Tuesday to state Education [Superintendent] John White about the pressures of implementing Louisiana's new assessment program for publicly funded early childhood centers. They said they are being rushed to evaluate students with a tool that is new to them.
My former colleagues in Congress know I’m not a free spender. But giving our children a good start in life is perhaps the wisest use of taxpayer dollars. I’m not alone in this belief. Nobel Laureate economist James Heckman estimates that early childhood education programs yield a rate of return of 7 to 10 percent per year. High-quality early education programs not only mean fewer children repeating a grade or needing special education, they also mean greater productivity and less crime. We spend $75 billion each year to incarcerate criminals but only $3.6 billion on early-childhood education.
Through the vehicle of a collaborative website, Preschool Nation is a one-stop shop that allows families, business leaders, early education teachers and researchers, policymakers and community members from around the country to tell compelling stories, share resources and research and advocate for increased early education opportunities for more children..."A preschool nation is one in which every child has full opportunity to succeed in school regardless of their zip code, ethnic background or immigration status," said W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).
Michigan was one of 16 states to apply for a $280 million federal grant program to support preschool education under the Obama administration's "Race to the Top" initiative, the U.S. Department of Education announced Monday . . . . Education department officials have hailed Michigan's "Great Start Readiness Program" preschool program for low-income children as a model for the nation, and the White House has said universal preschool is one of the administration's goals.
Savannah-Chatham public schools Superintendent Thomas Lockamy has said increasing preschool enrollment, particularly among children of poverty, is the best hope for eradicating the huge achievement gaps between inner-city and suburban public schools....Georgia Bright From the Start Commissioner Bobby Cagle, who administers Georgia’s lottery funded pre-K program and issues licenses for childcare facilities, said there just isn’t enough money to provide pre-kindergarten services to everyone in Georgia who needs it.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have submitted applications for a federal program that gives grants to improve preschool education. The states are competing for a piece of the $280 million up for grabs under the Obama administration’s early learning Race to the Top program. The initiative is designed to improve state preschool and early learning programs for children under 5 years of age. It is especially targeted to improving education for disadvantaged children and those from families with low incomes.
Rep. Hy Kloc wants the state to launch a three-year pre-K pilot program, with 55 percent of the funding coming from private sources....Idaho is one of only 10 states that do not fund pre-K programs, as the Legislature has rejected numerous pre-K proposals. Pre-K supporters perhaps came closest in 2007.