Early Education in the News

The Colorado County Citizen
July 22, 2014

One of the most important periods of a child’s life happens before kindergarten. Between birth and reaching his or her third birthday, a child will have quick, but important mental and physical growth. “We try to get them early, because early is best,” said Dana Gaskin, the Region III Education Service Center’s Child-Find coordinator. The state recognized that it takes the village to raise a child, and anyone with knowledge of a child needing help can get a trained team to offer assistance to the child’s family.

July 22, 2014

If the recession was difficult for adults, it was just as hard on young children. Between 2009 and 2013, enrollment in state-funded pre-K programs barely budged, up from 40 to 42 percent. Meanwhile, per-child spending on those pre-K programs fell, and Head Start programs felt the effects of sequestration more acutely than most, with 57,000 kids forced out virtually overnight and their parents stranded to scramble for child care. Policymakers continued to ignore the needs of a growing dual-language learner population. Achievement gaps between rich and poor kindergartners have grown, as have gaps in fourth-grade test scores for low- and high-income children. A new report my colleagues and I released last week, Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education, charts a path forward for early learning in America with a series of essential improvements–and a few bold ideas that, with enough political will, could fundamentally change the design of the birth-to-third-grade educational spectrum. . .

We propose that states increase their investments in pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds–with help from the federal government, at first, through a matching program–and take responsibility for those programs. States and school districts are already responsible for the bulk of K-12 educational costs, while the feds tack on about 12 percent of the total funding; pre-K should be incorporated into that system, with teachers paid comparably to K-12 teachers and funded through the same funding formulas as the other grades.

89.3 KPCC
July 22, 2014

Monique Hurtado found a preschool course for her child on the Internet. For years, websites have offered free preschool handouts or activity guides. Now, parents can get an entire preschool curriculum from a computer. It's a sign of where early education may be headed in these times of high preschool costs and long wait lists

Grand Forks Herald
July 22, 2014

Although North Dakota may have the best economy in the nation for its children, the percentage of children living in poverty hasn’t changed since 2005, according to a national report on children’s well-being. North Dakota ranked high in several areas, but the report, which uses information from 2012, suggests the state could invest more in early childhood education, said Karen Olson, program director for Kids Count North Dakota. The state has the fifth-worst ranking in regard to preschool enrollment. “The research is very clear that the earlier you can start investing in a child’s education and training, the bigger impact you’re going to have,” she said.

July 22, 2014

While West Virginia’s universal preschool program has been nationally recognized, a report being released Tuesday ranks the state’s program among the worst in the country because it provides access only to 4-year-olds.

The state currently offers free preschool to all 4-year-olds, with enrollment reaching more than 15,000 children last school year, and just last month, the National Institute for Early Education Research ranked West Virginia among the top 10 states in the country for pre-K enrollment.

But state law does not provide the same services to 3-year-olds unless they have an Individualized Education Program, typically designated for children with special needs. Because of that, the Kids Count Data Center report ranked the state 47th in preschool access.

Public News Service-IL
July 22, 2014

According to Joseph, the EITC now benefits more than one million Illinois children, and he says his organization is now working to expand it to 20 percent of the federal credit over a five-year period. He notes that on most indicators in the report Illinois is close to, or somewhat better, than the national average. Troubling trends remain, however, as the report finds the child poverty rate in Illinois increased from 16 percent in 2005 to 22 percent in 2012. Joseph says this highlights the importance of maintaining and strengthening programs such as food assistance and the state's Child Care Assistance Program. He says Illinois also needs to renew its investment in early childhood education. "We know from a vast body of research evidence this has substantial payoffs in terms of school readiness, educational outcomes later in school, and in terms of economic outcomes in adult life," says Joseph. Since 2009, funding cuts in Illinois have reduced the number of children participating in state-funded preschool by about 25,000.

July 22, 2014

“It is encouraging to see positive trends for Ohio’s children on several of the indicators,” said Dawn Wallace-Pascoe, KIDS COUNT project manager at Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio. “However, the Data Book’s findings send a clear signal that we need to focus on reducing child poverty, addressing the prevalence of children growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods, and finding secure employment for parents if we are to improve well-being for all children in our state.”

She said the report was mixed for Ohio, as the state improved in several areas, including the number of children without health insurance and the percent of teens who abuse alcohol or drugs.

She said expanding Medicaid will be helpful, as will previous policies for increasing money for early-childhood education. The report showed 56 percent of kids did not attend preschool from 2010-12, slightly more than the national average.

The Washington Times
July 22, 2014

Nearly three out of 10 kids are living in poverty in Arkansas, but the number of children without health insurance has gone down, according to a national study released Tuesday that shows how children fare in each state.

The Huffington Post
July 22, 2014

The importance of early childhood education is sometimes an afterthought in our discourse about the general topic of education in the United States. A lot of discussions center on access and success in the higher education realm, sometimes beginning with conversations about the K-12 pipeline. The national push for universal pre-Kindergarten, reinvigorated in recent years by President Obama, has altered the focus of education policy and messaging. It's important to note how social media campaigns have helped to highlight the issue reminding everyone of how important the early years in the development of the brains of young people. One of these campaigns has been uplifted and galvanized by David Johns, the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Johns, a former elementary school teacher and senior education policy adviser to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), is continuing to use his platform to ensure that the youngest of our citizens are not neglected or ignored. Through his constant usage of the "teach the babies" phrase and the #teachthebabies hash tag on social media he reminds us that, as he often says, "learning begins at birth and the preparation for learning begins well before birth.". . .

In addition to public speeches where Johns has highlighted the importance of ensuring that all children have access to high quality early learning programs including home visiting, child care, Head Start and pre-Kindergarten programs and services, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans contributed to "Being Black is Not A Risk Factor," a report published by the National Black Child Development Institute and co-authored a report entitled "Equity and Excellence: African-American Children's Access to Quality Preschool" with the National Institute for Early Education Research.

July 20, 2014

Quality ratings for Nebraska child care and early childhood education programs are the focus of a new system launched July 1 to help parents and guardians evaluate child care facilities when choosing care for their young children. The new system, Step Up to Quality, is aimed at improving the quality of all child care and early childhood education programs statewide ― programs that typically care for children from birth to kindergarten age and are eligible to apply.

July 20, 2014

In Chicago, VOCEL – a small education non-profit for children from under-resourced communities – is behind one of the first initiatives to use crowdfunding to open a preschool, the AFP reports.

The New York Times
July 20, 2014

In the fall, Ms. Martino will join the army of new teachers — as many as 1,000 in all — who will lead classrooms across the city as Mayor Bill de Blasio rolls out the first phase of his universal prekindergarten program. This will be Ms. Martino’s first preschool classroom and her first full-time job after a decade as a stay-at-home mother. (Her children are now 6 and 9 years old.). She is working on her second graduate degree, having earned a master’s degree to become a guidance counselor in her 20s. She is one of 95 scholars enrolled in a new, city-funded fellowship program run by the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, which is training new prekindergarten teachers for the fall.

The program — which offers a fully funded master’s degree in early childhood education from the City University of New York, along with a full-time prekindergarten teaching position — was aimed at people who were new to teaching but had a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, a 3.0 grade-point average and a passion for working with young children.

All Africa
July 19, 2014

Zimbabwe rules the roost in literacy in Africa with many Zimbabweans being accommodated in the regional and international industrial hubs. However, despite the apparent success scored by the Government in the education sector, a myriad problems still persist. The Herald's Senior Writer, Lovemore Ranga Mataire speaks to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Dr Olivia Muchena for an appraisal of developments in the sector.

Orlando Sentinel
July 19, 2014

For Florida's 1 million children growing up in poverty, kindergarten — and even pre-K — is too late to start giving them the help many will need to grow into capable, productive adults. That's the warning of a growing statewide effort to help parents and policymakers pay attention to the critical development years from birth through age 3.

But the message has been slow to reach parents and caregivers — those who can take greatest advantage of that precious and short window. In Florida, where one in four children lives below the federal poverty line and one in nine lives in extreme poverty, child-welfare advocates say few options are available to low-income parents who need quality child care or help in knowing what to do on their own. Meanwhile, the state's universal pre-kindergarten program — overwhelmingly passed by voters and open to every 4-year-old, regardless of family income — fails to meet seven of 10 nationally recommended quality standards, such as child-to-teacher ratio and class size.

The Oregonian [Op-Ed]
July 18, 2014

One approach is to subsidize the working poor more generously, using the earned income tax credit or similar measures. That's a good idea. Another approach is to improve poor children's chances by helping them do better at school and college. That's a good idea too - though harder to put into practice. Stilwell quotes a new briefing paper by Isabel Sawhill and Quentin Karpilow of the Brookings Institution. This includes some arresting numbers. According to the research surveyed in the note, proven interventions to help disadvantaged children raise their lifetime incomes by an amount roughly 10 times greater than the interventions cost. (The authors reckon the total cost per child of the programs they advocate to be about $20,000; the average lifetime gain per beneficiary is about $200,000.)

July 17, 2014

More than three-quarters of all 4-year-olds in the US are enrolled in some kind of educational program, according to the Organization for Economic and Community Development.

That puts the US at 25th of 38 rich countries and developing economies — behind Mexico,  France, and Portugal, among other nations.

July 17, 2014

Nebraska has launched a new quality rating system for child care facilities and early childhood education programs, state officials said Thursday.

The "Step Up to Quality" system is designed to help parents and guardians evaluate programs that care for young children on factors including curriculum, learning environment, staff interaction with children and family engagement efforts.

A state law passed last year requires participation from 10 of Nebraska's largest child care providers — all in Omaha and Lincoln — and smaller providers that collect at least $250,000 from the state. The program is voluntary for any other providers.

July 17, 2014

Almost half of the children entering kindergarten in the United States come from poor or less educated families, and do worse in school than students from wealthier and better educated homes, a new study finds. It's the latest addition to a overwhelming research pool deeming poor preschoolers as worse off.

The study was released Tuesday by the Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind Sesame Street, and the research group Mathematica Policy Research. It analyzes federal early childhood data from the 2010-11 school year.

The Huffington Post
July 17, 2014

Both Democratic and Republican voters want more of an investment in early childhood education, and they want it now, according to a new national poll. Similar to previous polls conducted on the subject, Americans expressed support for the idea of early childhood education. Out of nine sample national priorities, including “reducing the tax burden on families” and “securing our borders,” voters ranked “making sure our children get a strong start in life,” as the second most important, only trumped by “increasing jobs and economic growth.” Overwhelmingly, voters said the nation should be doing more to make sure children begin kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need. . .

Steven Barnett, director of National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, previously told the Associated Press that about half of American children ages 3 or 4 attend an early education program and that a third of children attend programs that are publicly funded.
U.S. News & World Report
July 17, 2014

Republicans and Democrats don't find common ground on much these days, but they appear to agree on one thing: the importance of early childhood education. Although there would be an upfront investment that could increase the deficit in the short-term, voters were still supportive and agreed it would pay for itself down the road by improving education, health and economic situations for children.

"That’s an important takeaway, particularly for those who feel it’s not the right time to increase investments or spending," Perry says. "The earlier you start, particularly with children in poverty, the better their preparedness is for kindergarten and beyond, and those gains can last a lifetime. Those folks who do better not only aren't using expensive programs like special ed, but they’re becoming productive members of society and paying taxes."