Early Education in the News

Boston Globe
January 21, 2016

A day after Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh pleaded with the state to increase funding for early education, saying it can make or break a student’s scholastic success or struggle, Governor Charlie Baker issued a noncommittal response.

“Well, look, every good mayor, every good city official has a set of interests and concerns that involve what I would describe as initiatives and issues that we work with them on,” Baker said.

Walsh, during his 2013 campaign for mayor, had pitched universal preschool for 4-year-olds — a milestone that New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, elected in the same cycle, has already achieved. But DeBlasio did so with significant funding from the state government, and Walsh similarly sought the support of state leaders in his State of the City address Tuesday night and in an opinion column published in the Boston Globe on Wednesday.

“We’ve stretched municipal and community funding as far as they can go,” Walsh and Boston Public School Superintendent Tommy Chang wrote. “We need help.”

The Washington Post
January 20, 2016

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has laid out the most detailed education plan of any presidential contender in either party, offering a battery of free-market ideas affecting preschool through college and beyond. . .

Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders want to make college debt-free, and Clinton also promotes universal preschool. But to date, Bush is the only candidate who has released specific proposals for every level of education from preschool through job training and college. . .

In early childhood education, Bush wants to combine what he says are 44 different federal programs and allow states to award $2,500 directly to parents to use in the preschool of their choice.

January 19, 2016

While governments and international organizations focus on peace building and alleviating poverty around the globe, a small but influential group of experts is focusing its attention on what some call “very early intervention.”

Cultures around the globe approach early childhood development in varied ways, but there are common approaches that translate from country to country. Children from diverse cultures have much in common developmentally. While early childhood development experts have long known this to be true, the fields of neuroscience and economics are finally catching up, giving them more leverage to work on programs focused on the education of pre-primary school students.

Devex spoke to Katherine A. Merseth, early childhood development team leader at RTI International, who said the return on investment data show that focusing resources on supporting young children is a “no-brainer.” In addition to the economic argument, she explained, a burgeoning field is growing around the effect of early childhood education on social cohesion and peace building.

Capital Public Radio
January 19, 2016

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to reshape California’s state-funded preschool, but his proposal worries some Democratic lawmakers and early education advocates. Brown wants to combine three state-funded early education programs, strip their requirements and let each local school district decide how to best spend the money.

But there’s a catch: districts must prioritize low-income and at-risk four year olds.

Asm. Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) chairs the subcommittee that will review the plan. He isn’t sold. “It doesn’t have any resources to focus on improved quality,“ McCarty says. “And it would get rid of a (transitional kindergarten) system which is only a few years old which has produced some great results to date.” And there are other concerns: “It appears to put a significant threat in place against the community-based preschools that we’ve had for decades,” says Erin Gabel with First 5 California, the voter-created state commission that funds early learning.

Most of all, it’s about money. The state cut more than $1 billion from early education programs during the recession, and has only restored about a quarter of it.

The Hechinger Report
January 19, 2016

Preschool is expensive and increasingly a luxury that only the wealthy can afford. In most states in our country, preschool costs more than rent or college tuition. This leads to women (and increasingly men) dropping out of the workforce during a critical time in their careers and contributing to a shortage of skilled talent in our economy, from the technology sector to the school classroom — not to mention the 60 percent of children in our country who enter kindergarten two years behind their wealthier (and luckier) peers.

In the recent Hechinger Report article, Into the woods: When preschoolers spend every class outdoors, Lillian Mongeau presented a hopeful portrait of a new trend in American preschools: breaking down the school house walls and taking the classroom outdoors.

A preschool where children develop the emotional, social and academic skills they need to thrive in kindergarten while also living a vibrant, joyful childhood. A childhood full of play, exploration and wonder in the natural world. The article also appeared in The New York Times. The article also mentions that outdoor preschools make a quality education more affordable.

The Pueblo Chieftain
January 18, 2016

Too often, we focus on the issues that divide us. It’s easy to be inundated with partisan rhetoric — especially during the midst of a political campaign. Instead, we should concentrate on something that unites us: investing in high-quality early childhood care and education.

Two recent polls demonstrate broad, bipartisan support in favor of investments in early childhood education.

Actually, that may be an understatement. Attitudes about the importance of early childhood education reach near unanimity, according to the polls. There is little partisan divide in this data as 90 percent of participants in a recent poll in Colorado said the years zero to 5 are extremely or very important to the learning and development of a child.

Furthermore, in a recent poll of Colorado residents by Save the Children Action Network, 61 percent of respondents answered that public education should start with preschool and be offered to all 4-year-olds. That represents a majority of Republicans, Democrats and independents.

The Des Moines Register (Opinion)
January 18, 2016

I am a director of one of the largest child care centers in Iowa. We care for about 340 children, with 280 of those being under the age of 5. We strive to provide a high-quality programs to these children, with with little to no funding from the state.

In Gov. Terry Branstad’s Condition of the State this week, he said his budget plan would bring total K-12 spending to more than $3.2 billion, but “tough decisions” are needed in other areas of the budget to make this level of funding possible.

What about kids ages zero to 5? What type of funding increase will we see for our littlest learners?

K-12 funding is important, but studies show that if we don’t invest early in a child’s education, there are major consequences to that child’s later success. Children who don’t start kindergarten ready to learn sometimes never catch up. As a result, we will then need to continue to fund remedial programs to assist those children who begin school behind.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
January 18, 2016

Pennsylvania trails most neighboring states in access to publicly funded, high-quality, pre-K education, with only 1 in 6 children in the state enrolled in such a program, according to a report released last week by a Harrisburg children’s advocacy organization.

About 120,000 3- and 4-year-olds statewide, many of whom are from low-income families, are at risk of school failure because they don’t have opportunities for early childhood education, said Joan L. Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. That figure includes more than 12,500 children in Allegheny County.

“When we make this investment, we help kids, we help the communities, we help schools, we improve kids’ lives,” she said at a news conference Thursday at the Small World Early Learning & Development Center in Downtown.

The report, “The Case for Pre-K in PA,” noted that over five years, Pennsylvania dropped from 11th to 15th in the nation in pre-K access for 3-year-olds and from 24th to 30th for 4-year-olds, according to research from the National Institute for Early Education Research.

The Washington Post
January 15, 2016

Kindergarten readiness tests are nothing new. What is is the ever-increasing focus on turning kindergarten, and now preschool, into academic environments with the aim of ensuring that children can read by the time they are in first grade. In fact, kindergarten is the new first grade when it comes to academics.

Saxton and Rupley wrote in their piece that the results of the testing of the kindergartners in Oregon “provide a sobering snapshot of the skills our children possess as they enter kindergarten.”

The following post is something of a follow-up to exactly where we are with kindergarten testing. Not only are kindergartners inundated with tests in many schools, but, they are, in some places, being taught to “love” testing.  A teacher in Chicago wrote a piece for Catalyst Chicago titled, “How Bailey Reimer’s kindergartners came to love testing.” No, this isn’t a piece of satire, or, at least, there is no indication that it is.

January 14, 2016

Prekindergarten advocates Thursday pushed the state to increase its commitment to making high-quality prekindergarten more accessible -- and laid out a strategy to do so.

A new report, "The Case for Pre-k in PA: Smart Investment in Kids, Communities and the Commonwealth," found that an additional investment of $370 million in high-quality pre-K over this fiscal year and the next three fiscal years would make pre-K accessible to more than 47,000 Pennsylvania 3- and 4-year-olds who are at greatest risk of academic failure.

An additional $100 million would provide high-quality pre-K to about one-fifth of 3- and 4-year-olds in middle-income households -- about 23,500 children, the report by the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children found.

Taken together, a total investment of $470 million would make high-quality pre-K available to more than 40 percent of the state's 3- and 4-year olds, compared with fewer than 20 percent who benefited in 2013.


WCPO Cincinnati
January 14, 2016

It just got easier for parents eyeing Cincinnati preschools to provide input and submit questions about the emerging Cincinnati Preschool Promise program.

As part of its efforts to guarantee 2 years of quality preschool education for every Cincinnati child, the independently-drivenCincinnati Preschool Promise program launched Ask Preschool Promise , a website dedicated to taking digitally submitted questions and feedback as the program sets to launch.

KY Forward
January 14, 2016

Ensuring all Kentucky children are well prepared for success in kindergarten and beyond is the focus of a new report from the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence that recommends priorities for policy and program developments related to early childhood education.

Progress and Next Steps for Early Childhood in Kentucky: Birth Through Third Grade is the work of the committee’s Early Childhood Education Study Group.

The report emphasizes the need for the alignment, from birth through third grade, of programs designed to prepare children for each new step in their education. It also points out the need for collaboration among public and private programs at the community level as a way to ensure the most effective use of limited resources.

Deseret News
January 14, 2016

Community leaders are joining a chorus of advocates calling on lawmakers to expand funding for preschool and optional extended-day kindergarten in Utah.

That kind of investment, they say, will help level the playing field for many low-income, minority and at-risk students, narrowing a pervasive performance gap that separates them from their majority counterparts.

"When kids are given the opportunity to develop a full working vocabulary, to learn colors and shapes, to have the opportunities that most of us take for granted, they will be on grade level and be far more likely to graduate from high school prepared to go to college," said Bill Crim, president and CEO of United Way of Salt Lake.

Education Week
January 13, 2016

President Barack Obama used his very last State of the Union address to press for action on unfinished pieces of his agenda—including universal prekindergarten and offering two years of free commmunity college to most students—from Congress and his successor in the White House. . .

The recently approved Every Student Succeeds Act, a rewrite of the ESEA, made inroads on some of Obama's most cherished priorities, including on early-childhood programs and mathematics and science education. But it fell short of lofty proposals he's outilned in previous addresses to Congress. "The bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind was an important start, and together, we've increased early-childhood education, lifted high school graduation rates to new highs, and boosted graduates in fields like engineering," the president said. "In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing pre-K for all, offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one, and we should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids." 

Washington Times
January 12, 2016

A Nebraska senator is proposing a series of state tax credits to address the high cost of child care and to increase access to early childhood programs.

Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha introduced legislation Monday that he says would focus on the state’s youngest children, particularly those who are at risk of failing in school.

Washington Center for Equitable Growth
January 12, 2016

Research is increasingly demonstrating that investments in education provide significant benefits to children, families, and society as a whole, accelerating economic growth and promoting opportunity over time. This study describes and analyzes the benefits and costs of investing in a public, voluntary, high-quality universal prekindergarten program made available to all 3- and 4-year-olds across the United States. By breaking down these benefits and costs at the state and national levels, we show how such a program would strengthen the U.S. economy’s competitiveness while simultaneously easing a host of fiscal, social, and health problems. Over time, the program would more than pay for itself: By 2050, a universal prekindergarten program would yield $8.90 in benefits for every dollar invested and $304.7 billion in total benefits. If the ultimate aim of public policy is to promote the well-being of individuals, families, communities, and nations, then investment in early childhood education is clearly an effective strategy.

Results for America, Bellwether, NHSA, the Volcker Alliance
January 12, 2016

Head Start is a valuable federal program that improves the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable children and their families. Research shows that Head Start programs improve children’s learning at school entry and have a positive impact on long-term life outcomes. Yet research also suggests that Head Start could have a stronger impact on children’s early learning, school, and life outcomes. The key question is, how can policymakers and practitioners maximize outcomes for Head Start children and their families? This paper — the product of a combined effort of Results for America, Bellwether Education Partners, the National Head Start Association, and the Volcker Alliance — outlines a vision for a continuous improvement approach that uses data, evidence, and evaluation to improve outcomes at all levels of the Head Start program. 

January 11, 2016

Celebrate your child's scribbles. A novel experiment shows that even before learning their ABCs, youngsters start to recognize that a written word symbolizes language in a way a drawing doesn't - a developmental step on the path to reading.

Researchers used a puppet, line drawings and simple vocabulary to find that children as young as 3 are beginning to grasp that nuanced concept.

"Children at this very early age really know a lot more than we had previously thought," said developmental psychologist Rebecca Treiman of Washington University in St. Louis, who co-authored the study.

The research published Jan. 6 in the journal Child Development suggests an additional way to consider reading readiness, beyond the emphasis on phonetics or being able to point out an "A'' in the alphabet chart.

Appreciating that writing is "something that stands for something else, it actually is a vehicle for language - that's pretty powerful stuff," said Temple University psychology professor Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a specialist in literacy development who wasn't involved in the new work.


Grand Forks Herald
January 11, 2016

The child care crisis in Grand Forks isn't new, but some providers in the area warn the cost will only grow.

A lack of candidates interested in the job, combined with increasing operating costs, a struggle to retain employees and the challenging nature of the job itself, continue to push fees higher, child care providers said.

Competition is tough, too. Providers compete for the same small pool of candidates and the pay of the service industry, which is usually higher, they said.

"We're not competing for kids, we're competing for staff," said Tammy Sayler, owner, director and physical therapist for Little Miracles, a child care provider in Grand Forks.

US News & World Report
January 11, 2016

Of course, the biggest early childhood stories in 2016 may well be things we can't yet predict. New research, new state and local policy developments or new innovative approaches for engaging families and communities to support their children's development – all of those things are likely to be part of the early childhood story in 2016, and all well worth keeping an eye on.