Early Education in the News
W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, echoed that argument, saying prekindergarten — still widely viewed as an optional form of instruction — would be more vulnerable to legislators’ whims. Referring to first graders, Mr. Barnett said: “If you’re 7 years old, you get to go to school. It doesn’t matter how tight the budget is.” Prekindergarten, he said, would not enjoy the same immunity.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is co-sponsoring legislation to provide transitional kindergarten to every 4-year-old child in California....Transitional kindergarten is currently available to 4-year-old students who have birthdays that fall too late in the calendar year to be eligible for kindergarten. The new bill would — if approved by legislators — expand that access to all 4-year-olds.
A top priority for the governor is a $4.5 million funding request for 32 preschool classrooms at 30 public schools in underserved or rural Hawaii communities. Executive Office on Early Learning Director GG Weisenfeld answered questions Monday about the request at an informational briefing of the state House Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. The state Legislature reconvenes next week. The 30 schools where the pre-K classes will be established haven't been announced, but they will be in areas where there is limited access to private preschool programs. It's a piece of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's proposal for publicly funded universal preschool. Hawaii is one of few states without state-funded preschool.
A study by UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) shows that children who have lower English-language abilities than their classmates benefit most from programs like Head Start and public pre-k. How and why this is true are not so clear.
South Carolina has considered proposals to offer voluntary pre-kindergarten classes for all 4-year-olds, but those haven't been embraced by lawmakers. The state spent about $35.7 million to serve more than 29,000 pre-kindergartners in 2012, and the state ranked 39th nationally for its pre-K spending, according to a report from the National Institute for Early Education Research.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo will propose funding full-day pre-kindergarten statewide, according to sources briefed on the governor's preparation for his State of the State address this week....One source said Cuomo would allocate $250 million for pre-K. ...The state Board of Regents proposed allocating $125 million for pre-K in its budget proposal, which asked for a $1.3 billion increase over the current fiscal year's funding level.
Only three out of 10 Washington children, ages 3 and 4, were enrolled in preschool programs that met minimum state standards last year. That is one of the widest early education gaps in the nation, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The good news is that educators and policymakers are increasingly recognizing early learning's role preparing young children for school. . . . Kids would benefit if the state could combine ECEAP and Working Connections funding into a single slot for a full day of high-quality early learning. The National Institute for Early Education Research ranked Washington's ECEAP program high for meeting nine out of 10 benchmarks for quality.
In the early 1990s, a team of researchers decided to follow about 40 volunteer families — some poor, some middle class, some rich — during the first three years of their new children's lives. Every month, the researchers recorded an hour of sound from the families' homes. Later in the lab, the team listened back and painstakingly tallied up the total number of words spoken in each household. What they found came to be known as the "word gap." It turned out, by the age of 3, children born into low-income families heard roughly 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers.
Despite a push from prominent Indiana lawmakers who to want expand access to childcare and preschool programs, it may be difficult for the General Assembly to pass any such measures in a non-budget writing year, according to Bill Stanczykiewicz, CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. Stanczykiewicz says early childhood education will still be one of the hottest topics in the statehouse in 2014 with nearly a quarter of Indiana children living in poverty.
Gov. Peter Shumlin says he’s proud the state of Vermont is getting $36.9 million in federal grants to help improve early education programs for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. This is the third time these early learning grants have been issued. Fourteen other states were previous winners. In total, nearly $1 billion in grants has been distributed. Shumlin says it’s going to be the largest single investment in early childhood education in Vermont history.
Pennsylvania is getting a $51.7 million boost for early childhood education programs, Gov. Tom Corbett announced Thursday. It’s the largest federal grant the state has ever received to spend on programs for early learning, and reflects the state’s commitment to strengthening and increasing programs that help prevent students from falling too far behind by the time they reach third grade, Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq said. “This is actually the next evolution,” Dumaresq said on a conference call with reporters. “This is where Pennsylvanians need to go.”
There's growing evidence that the earlier we invest in children, the larger the returns we get. This holds true for both individual families and society at large. Children who attend quality early education programs later perform better in school and earn more as adults. As a result, the public can spend less money on welfare programs or crime reduction (and more on something else).
Six states were announced as winners Thursday of a combined $280 million in government grants to improve early learning programs for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. The winning states in the Race to the Top-Early Challenge competition were Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont. The winners were announced by the Education and Health and Human Services departments, which jointly administer the program. This is the third time these early learning grants have been issued. Fourteen other states were previous winners. In total, nearly $1 billion in grants has been distributed.
Georgia has won a second multimillion-dollar federal education grant — one aimed at improving learning for the state’s youngest children, it was announced early Thursday. The state will receive $51 million over four years to expand access to high-quality child care for low-income families, to increase training for early childhood teachers and to put extra resources into areas of the state where test scores and other indicators show the greatest need.
Only one in three four-year-olds attend a high-quality preschool program — and the number for three-year-olds is much lower. Across the country, children remain on long preschool waiting lists, and families who could benefit from support as they raise their children remain unserved.
Congress sent President Barack Obama legislation Wednesday scaling back across-the-board cuts on programs ranging from the Pentagon to the national park system, adding a late dusting of bipartisanship to a year more likely to be remembered for a partial government shutdown and near-perpetual gridlock. . . . Democrats expressed satisfaction that money would be restored for programs like Head Start and education, and lawmakers in both parties and the White House cheered the cancellation of future cuts at the Pentagon
Sixty-five percent of Alabama kids under age 6 have both parents in the work force. So while their parents work, many of those children spend their days at child care centers, preschool or kindergarten. The child care and early education industries are critical not just to those 192,000 children, but also the state's economy, contended a new report released by a group arguing for more investment, and higher standards, in early care programs. The industry directly employs 18,959 full-time equivalent jobs, has a payroll of $369 million and has a billion dollar impact on the state's economy, according to the report prepared by Auburn University at Montgomery economist Keivan Deravi for the Alabama Partnership for Children.
Officials with the National Institute for Early Education Research, or NIEER, said there has been virtually no research done to explore the link between increased access to quality early childhood programs and a drop in academic remediation costs — largely because the term “remediation” is too broad. But Milagros Nores, associate director of research for NIEER’s Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes, said numerous studies show a direct impact between kindergarten readiness and significant reductions — as much as 30 percent — in the number of children who need special education or end up repeating a grade. Nores said reducing either one — children who are held back or those with learning delays — would have a significant and positive impact on a district’s operating budget.
West Chicago Elementary District 33 is one of many in the Chicago area that has seen the number of available state-funded preschool spots plummet in the past few years as Illinois continues to slash funding for some of its smallest residents. A few years ago, when funding was late once again, the district went so far as to cancel its preschool program. But the state came through at the last minute, and the district scrambled to rehire teachers, get bulletin boards decorated and inform parents that classes were back in session. The concern, said Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, is that inconsistent funding can undermine quality programs. "I understand it's been a long time since Illinois has had a good budget year," he said, "but it wreaks havoc at the local level."
Nearly 73 percent of Minnesota children were prepared to start kindergarten in the fall of 2012, or about 13 percent more than in 2010, according to a new report from the Minnesota Department of Education.