Early Education in the News

Seattle Times
October 6, 2014

SEIU Local 925 and AFT-Washington, unions which together represent about 1,500 preschool teachers and child-care workers, have contributed more than $1 million to the campaign behind Seattle Proposition No. 1A.

Prop 1A would establish a public-private training institute — likely union-led — fast-track a $15 minimum wage for preschool workers, seek to reduce childcare costs for all Seattle families to 10 percent of household income and make other changes. It doesn’t include a funding mechanism.

Seattle voters will be asked to choose between Prop 1A and City Hall-backed Proposition No. 1B, which would use a four-year, $58 million property tax levy to fund a pilot program subsidizing preschool for up to 2,000 3- and 4-year olds.

The Prop 1B campaign is called Quality Pre-K for Our Kids.

The Florida Times-Union
October 3, 2014

From Seattle to New York, elected officials are calling for more children to attend publicly funded preschool. President Barack Obama, lawmakers and local officials from both sides of the aisle agree on the benefits of prekindergarten — the catch is how to pay for it. That is especially true of the “high-quality” programs critical to achieving the long-term benefits touted by advocates, such as lower school dropout rates, reduced costs to the criminal justice system and higher wages. . .

Nationwide, enrollment in publicly funded preschool has exploded over the past decade. From the 2001-02 school year to 2011-12, the percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled in state-funded preschool increased from 14 percent to 28 percent, according to The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, although enrollment stalled in 2011-12. While state spending on preschool has also increased, from $3.47 billion to $5.12 billion over the same decade, the dollars have not kept pace with enrollment, according to NIEER, causing per-child spending to drop by more than 23 percent, adjusting for inflation.

Washington Post
October 3, 2014

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to truancy or use the court system. But truancy doesn’t tell the whole story. Beginning in kindergarten (or even preschool), chronic absence can predict that children won’t read proficiently by the end of third grade, especially if absenteeism persists for more than one year. By middle and high school, chronic absence is a warning sign that students might drop out of high school. And if too many students miss too much school, the classroom churn can slow learning for everyone.

The Davis Enterprise
October 3, 2014

Preschool can lift children from poverty. Top high schools prepare students for college. A college degree boosts pay over a lifetime. And the U.S. economy would grow faster if more people stayed in school longer. Plenty of data back them up. But the data also show something else: Wealthier parents have been stepping up education spending so aggressively that they’re widening the nation’s wealth gap. When the Great Recession struck in late 2007 and squeezed most family budgets, the top 10 percent of earners — with incomes averaging $253,146 —€” went in a different direction: They doubled down on their kids’ futures. . . 

Wealthier parents can also afford high-quality day care, which better prepares children for kindergarten, said Steven Barnett, director at the National Institute for Early Education Research.

October 2, 2014

 Lily Endowment Inc., Early Learning Indiana and United Way of Central Indiana will continue their longstanding commitment to early childhood education in Indiana. The organizations are working together to improve the quality of programs for children from birth to age five. Lily has made a grant of $20 million to Early Learning Indiana to allow an increase in the quality and quantity of early childhood education opportunities across Indiana.

Vineyard Gazette
October 2, 2014

As a conversation unfolds in Massachusetts and around the country on the value of pre-kindergarten learning and whether it should be incorporated into public school education, interviews with early childhood educators on the Island reveals a similar conversation is quietly taking place here. Marney Toole, a longtime early childhood educator who coordinates the council for young children on the Island, said the idea of universal preschool is expected to be on the table for discussion this year. Across the water in Mashpee, universal preschool is being offered for the first time this year to all four year olds. Cost can be a barrier. Nearly all Island preschools are private and cost anywhere from $800 to upwards of $1,000 a month for full-time enrollment. The Vineyard school system runs the only public preschool on the Island, Project Headway, which began in 1981 and is primarily for students with special needs. Students without special needs attend as well, but they pay tuition. This year, there are 14 students with individual education plans (IEPs) and 16 peer models enrolled at Project Headway. . . 

As a result of a push-down effect from the upper grades, kindergarten teachers must make sure they are preparing their students for first and second grade and beyond, educators said. This means more time spent writing, reading and developing math skills, though Ms. Searle said they do make time — 30 to 45 minutes per day — for play. 

The Huffington Post [Op-Ed]
October 2, 2014

This fall we're welcoming more than 300 three- and four-year olds at Head Start sites in Los Angeles and Burbank. Head Start is the federal school readiness program that serves a million low-income children across the country. Head Start is also the brilliant and enduring product of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty, which miraculously survived the politics and fashions of the last 50 years. . .

What about Head Start's outcomes? Does it have lasting impact on children or is it another waste of taxpayer money? That's about as useful as asking whether or not High School works. Studies can support either point of view. What's most important is this: quality programs produce quality outcomes. And of course substandard programs produce poor outcomes. Another consideration: Head Start has been the driving force in improving child outcomes, because every bump in the road has spurred improvements and innovation. While most school systems are struggling with huge numbers of English language learners, Head Start is a leader in the field. And what public school system requires failing schools to recompete when they don't deliver quality education to their students?

NWI Times
October 2, 2014

Local leaders and early childhood education experts made a pitch to support investing in early childhood education as an economic tool. Phillip Peterson, co-chairman of ReadyNation and a partner at Aon Hewitt in Pennsylvania, said almost every state in the United States has a business roundtable talking about the importance of early childhood education initiatives.

"Business knows the single most important factor in the workforce is human capital," he said. "U.S. worker capabilities are declining, and more workers are coming from other countries. Many of those workers are also going to school in the United States. The best option for Indiana and for the U.S. is to invest in people, young children and families."

SCV News
October 2, 2014

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) announced Thursday that the California Department of Education has allocated $67 million to add 7,500 preschool slots for low-income Californians. “This is a great investment in our future. The expansion of high-quality preschool gives more children the opportunity to obtain the emotional and social skills they need to become lifelong learners,” Torlakson said. “It will help them succeed in school, at the workplace, and in their communities.”

These funds are part of the $264 million that will be spent on expanding early childhood education this budget year, which includes adding a total of 11,500 preschool slots and 1,000 slots with priority given to infants and toddlers. Eventually, the state will be creating preschool opportunities for an additional 31,500 young children.

Salt Lake Tribune
September 30, 2014

The commission also set as a priority the placement of young children in safe and developmentally appropriate settings. "Children, regardless of income, should be cared for in settings that will offer quality care to ensure children develop appropriate social, emotional and behavioral skills to prepare them for school and life," the report said.

And the commission highlighted the preparation of young children to enter kindergarten. "Expand opportunities for young children in poverty for enrollment in high-quality preschool settings in all areas of the state, including rural communities," the report recommended.

September 30, 2014

Several pages on the NIEER website are malfunctioning. We are aware of the issue and working to bring them back online. If you are looking for a page that has disappeared, please email us at info@nieer.org. Thank you for your patience!

DNAinfo New York
September 29, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged that this year's free pre-K classes would all be "high quality." But what does that look like? DNAinfo New York asked experts—including those who've spent years in classrooms teaching 4-year-olds as well as professional development experts responsible for training pre-K teachers—what parents should consider when choosing or evaluating a pre-K program.

Roll Call
September 29, 2014

While 14 million American families have a child younger than school age, child care and preschool are quickly becoming a luxury only the rich can afford. Child care costs exceed nearly every other household expense, and for families with two or more children, child care costs exceed the median rent cost in every state. On average, families pay anywhere from $4,000 to $16,000 per year for a child care center, depending on the geographic location and the age of the child.

Huffington Post (Education)
September 29, 2014

We must continue to raise quality in order to provide children with the kind of early experiences that are proven to boost high school graduation, increase college enrollment and completion, reduce crime and prepare a skilled workforce for the 21st century. Unfortunately, California falls short compared to so many other states -- we meet 4 of 10 quality benchmarks as defined by the National Institute for Early Education Research. The state's $50 million investment in supporting quality at the local levels is one important way we can begin to change this.

Sioux City Journal
September 27, 2014

Preschool teachers in districts participating in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program must obtain a bachelor’s degree in education and must also have an early childhood endorsement. The program, established in 2007, provides funding to participating districts to ensure area students have access to early childhood education programs. According to the Iowa Department of Education, 320 of the state's 346 districts were expected to participate in the program this year. . . 

“I think that early childhood isn’t something that every college has because they may have not had the numbers,” she said. “But now some colleges are adjusting.”

The Commercial Appeal
September 27, 2014

 Four urban Indiana counties selected for a state-funded preschool pilot program will launch it in early 2015, officials said Wednesday during a day of meetings among state and local officials and educators.

Marion (Indianapolis), Allen (Fort Wayne), Lake (Gary) and Vanderburgh (Evansville) County preschools will begin enrolling low-income children receiving state vouchers in January, with rural Jackson County in southern Indiana following later in 2015, WIBC-FM reported.

Wyoming Public Media
September 26, 2014

Wyoming spends a lot of money educating its children. The state comes in sixth place in per-student spending for K-12. But when you look at outcomes—like graduation rates—we’re stuck in the middle of the pack. Some educators say the key to boosting student performance is to put more focus on children before they start kindergarten. Wyoming is one of 10 states without state-funded preschool. And statewide survey data from 2009 showed that only slightly more than half of all kindergartners were considered “kindergarten-ready.” Recent efforts to expand and improve early education in Wyoming have been rejected by lawmakers. Research like Berry’s makes clear that what we experience in our first years of life--interactions, stresses, trauma—that all impacts our ability to think and learn throughout school and beyond. “We see that investing in early interventions and programs is more effective and more efficient than investing later in remediation and treatment,” Berry says.

Houston Chronicle
September 25, 2014

Access to preschool programs - and their quality - varies widely across Texas. A broad coalition of Houston-area executives, educators and nonprofit groups assembled by Houston's premier business organization is working to change that, though a major hurdle remains: securing funding in a state that ranks toward the bottom in pre-K spending per pupil. . . 

W. Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, said he's seen big cities increasingly take the lead in pushing states to improve pre-K. He said the benefits of a longer day depend on the effectiveness of the instruction. Texas' pre-K program meets only two of the institute's 10 benchmarks of quality, but it ranked in the top fifth in terms of access.

Inside Indiana Business
September 25, 2014

An early education initiative supported by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and local business leaders has received a pledge of $500,000 from the PNC Foundation. Indiana is one of only 10 states without state-funded preschool program for underserved children. Central to this initiative is a commitment to address some of the "root causes" of poverty and crime through investments in quality early childhood education programs for at-risk children.

Santa Fe New Mexican
September 24, 2014

Advocates of using part of New Mexico's $14 billion land-grant endowment to fund early childhood education will announce their newest campaign Wednesday in Albuquerque.

The want to expand early childhood programs by using at least $110 million a year from the endowment's earnings.

Similar proposals have failed in each of the last four legislative sessions.