Early Education in the News
Thirty-five states and Puerto Rico applied for funding, signifying serious interest in early childhood education throughout the country and across party lines. The numbers reaffirm that there is strong bipartisan support for this issue: 16 of the states are headed by Republican governors and 19 by Democratic governors. Because states’ current pre-K investments vary significantly, the Departments divided the available grant money into two sub-grants: states with little or no public pre-K program were eligible to apply for “development grants,” and states with more robust systems or those receiving federal funds through Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge were eligible for “expansion grants.”
On Wednesday, December 10, President Obama will host a White House Summit on Early Education. The Summit will bring together a broad coalition of philanthropic, business, education, advocacy and elected leaders, as well as other stakeholders who are committed to expanding access to high-quality early education. This summit builds on the President’s call in his 2013 State of the Union address to expand access to high-quality early childhood education to every child in America. As part of that effort, the President proposed a series of new investments that will establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for a child—beginning at birth and continuing to age five. This proposal includes extending and expanding evidence-based, voluntary home visiting, growing the supply of effective early learning opportunities for young children through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, and providing Preschool for All.
- A new push for academic achievement. Xer parents are increasingly sending their kids to preschool at ever-earlier ages. According to The State of Preschool, the share of 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool nearly doubled between 2003 and 2013. And despite this doubling of free preschool care, private preschool enrollment has also skyrocketed. Parents with means are willing to shell out major bucks to send their kids to the best preschools. A number of states have also recently instituted universal preschool programs for all children.
Washington state is one of 35 states applying for grants under the federal government’s new $250 million preschool education program, the U.S. Department of Education announced on Monday.
The money is intended to significantly expand preschool programs among at-risk children. The grant program is a joint venture between the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services; the goal is to get more states ready to participate under President Obama’s Preschool for All initiative that would offer early learning education to all children.
The state school superintendent on Tuesday outlined a program he says will unify early childhood education in Louisiana. Not enough focus has been placed on students prior to third grade because evaluation methods are confusing and incomplete, said John White, who made three stops in Terrebonne Parish as part of his Louisiana Believes Tour.
The pilot program the state is moving into was a result of Act 3 that the Legislature approved two years ago. Under the program, child care providers will be licensed by the Department of Education, instead of the Office of Family Services; preschools will be evaluated on their teaching and interaction with students; the application process for various forms of preschools including Head Start will be consolidated; and pre-school teachers will be required to have at least an associate degree in child care development. “We’re in a new era of childhood education,” said state Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, one of two state legislators serving on an early childhood education task force.
Early childhood development advocates have reason to rejoice throughout Alaska. Rep. Paul Seaton answered a cry for help with a funding option well-received among people present at a legislative open house at Head Start on Oct. 25.
In July of this year, Rep. Seaton put forth an effort amending Alaska’s Education Tax Credit program; legislation that opens the door for both businesses and individuals to receive tax credits for donations to programs such as Head Start, SPROUT, and Homer Early Childhood Coalition (formerly Best Beginnings).
A lack of childcare was also heavily discussed, with affordability being an aspect garnering much frustration. Parents make “incremental amounts” after paying for services needed for children, and the general lack of options and staffing locally. Seaton admitted that, “though the need is great,” a solution might be found by re-evaluating standards individuals in child care in the state are required to meet.
“Remember that activity when we all get in the closet and pretend we’re not even there, so our principal can’t find us?” I choose my words carefully as I prep my pre-kindergarten students for the lockdown drill scheduled for that afternoon. These drills have become routine at Arlington elementary schools, and at schools across the country. After the latest school shooting, on Oct. 24 in Washington state, schools will no doubt be running through drills yet again. What can we do about all these shootings?, teachers ask each other. Lock the doors, we’re told, and assume the worst is coming.
The Preschool Development Grants competition supports States to (1) build or enhance a preschool program infrastructure that would enable the delivery of high-quality preschool services to children, and (2) expand high-quality preschool programs in targeted communities that would serve as models for expanding preschool to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. These grants would lay the groundwork to ensure that more States are ready to participate in the Preschool for All formula grant initiative proposed by the Administration.
To identify the states slashing education spending the most, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the CBPP’s 2014 report, “Most States Funding Schools Less Than Before the Recession,” which analyzed state level general formula funding between fiscal 2008 and the current fiscal year. State formulas typically fund the majority of state-level education expenditures, but do not include all state sources of funding. Frequently, most state fund preschool and teacher retirements outside of these formulas.
Kindergartners, Avina says, learn best when they're fully engaged. "They need more than just paper and pencil and sitting at a desk. They need movement, they need music, they need drama, they need an experience."
So two years ago, he picked up a video camera.
The first big effort — kindergartners performing Madonna's "Vogue" — got more than 280,000 hits on his YouTube channel. He's since videotaped kids acting out children's books and performing music videos, including "Downtown" and the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated."
Research efforts are also advancing our knowledge of just how different DLLs’ linguistic and academic paths are. Whatever your preconceived notions, this research should inform the policies that govern DLLs’ educational experiences. The most recent edition of Early Childhood Research Quarterly(ECRQ) has several useful reviews of recent research on dual language learners.
For the first time since the state enacted kindergarten legislation in 1891, California children have to be 5 years old by Sept. 1 to enroll in kindergarten.
The new cutoff date follows years of efforts in the state Legislature to move the date students were eligible for kindergarten to be in line with at least 20 other states with a Sept. 1 cutoff date. The others have earlier or later cutoff dates, or leave it up to local school districts to decide. Blunting the impact of the new deadline is California’s additional kindergarten year, called “transitional kindergarten,” for children whose 5th birthday falls somewhere between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2. These are children who were previously eligible to enroll in regular kindergarten even though they had not yet turned 5. They can now attend transitional kindergarten, and then enroll in regular kindergarten the following year.
Parenthood should be affordable in this country, but the cost of raising a child from birth to adulthood is now a quarter of a million dollars and projected to double by the time today’s toddlers reach their teens. Will having kids soon be out of reach economically for many American families? A recent report from the Center for American Progress found that middle-class families are feeling an unprecedented economic squeeze — caught between stagnating wages and the exploding cost of basics such as housing, health care and children’s education. Most families, it seems, are getting by on less and living closer to the financial edge to help their kids grow up healthy and get ahead. The most striking growth in costs to families has been in child care, where expenses have climbed about $200 annually in each of the past dozen years, with nearly tenfold growth since the 1960s. Child care, on average, consumes $1 of every $5 in a family’s budget and exceeds the typical rent in every state.
The debate about constitutional Amendment 4, which Hawaii voters began casting ballots on this week, doesn’t focus on whether 4-year-olds should be in preschool. Both the Hawaii State Teachers Association, which opposes the proposed amendment, and folks like Deborah Zysman of Good Beginnings Alliance, which is leading the charge for it, say they see a need for children to enroll in preschool. The real question comes down to who should be providing the instruction. . .
But Hawaii is the only state in the country that explicitly prohibits using state money for private early childhood education. The state has some Headstart programs, which are federally funded, but because of the way the state’s constitution is written, the state can’t enforce any educational standards for those programs, Zysman said. Amendment 4 would allow the state Legislature to set aside some amount of money to bolster the state’s preschools, many of which already have waiting lists.
Early childhood education is a very doable solution to breaking the cycle of poverty. It helps children who are at home with family by including them in a Parents As Teachers home visitation program or Reach Out and Read, or some similar program. It helps those in family home child care if they use a curriculum like BEECH, and it supports early childhood centers who have such a small profit margin in general that initiatives can make a huge impact, such as the Texas School Ready program or the No Excuses No Limits program or our excellent Head Start options.
The point to make is we know early childhood is crucial to success, and we know there are proven interventions for breaking the cycle — we just need these things to reach all the children and families. Couldn’t we as a community join with the early childhood programs and with our families to support high quality beginnings for our children?
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan challenged California to stand up as the model of what a high-quality early child care and education system should look like. Speaking at the “Children: LA’s Greatest Investment” forum, co-hosted by Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP), Duncan said that the case has been made for the economic and social benefits of not only high-quality preschool, but the broader early care and education spectrum. “We’re talking about a 0-5 continuum here,” Duncan told reporters after his keynote address at the forum. “I continue to believe this is the best investment we can make in families and children…if we want to have a strong economy,” Duncan said.
Lt. Gov. Angela McLean stopped in Butte Thursday to explain the governor’s mission to make early childhood education open to all kids. No matter the family’s income level or town, any child will be able to access pre-kindergarten through high-quality, half-day, voluntary preschool programs for 4-year-olds. The Early Edge Montana proposal links public with private partnerships throughout Montana, one of eight states lacking publicly funded, free education for younger kids, said McLean.
California's momentum on early learning was in the spotlight this week, when the White House came to town for "Children: The Bay Area's Greatest Investment," a Town Hall in San Francisco that celebrated the state's recent successes and reenergized participants to recommit to doing more for our youngest learners. Early Edge California was honored to join the White House in hosting this event. The Administration has played a significant role in building momentum for early childhood education, both by placing it at the top of President Obama's list of domestic priorities, and through investments in birth through age 8, including Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, Preschool Development Grants, home visiting and more. San Francisco was chosen to host the Town Hall because First 5 San Francisco's innovative Preschool for All program has provided such a model of what is possible. Yet, we still fall so far short in serving our youngest learners and their families effectively, in a way that recognizes the important intersection of health and early education.
Though the nation increasingly recognizes the importance of early childhood education, young African Americans and other children of color continue to trail their White counterparts on key measurements, according to a report by the Center for American Progress (CAP), an independent nonpartisan educational institute dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action.
The report, titled, “Investing in Infants and Toddlers to Combat Inequality,” shows that despite being the majority, children of color are generally faring poorly on a number of social and educational metrics. One-in-three toddlers of color lives in poverty. By 5 years old, children from low-income homes have heard millions fewer words than their more affluent peers, a vocabulary deficit known as the word gap. According to an earlier CAP report, even among middle and upper class families, 25 percent of all kindergarteners are not school-ready – they may not know any letters, numbers, or colors, for example.
While losses in family income predict increases in behavior problems for many children, attending high-quality early childhood education and care centers offers some protection against families' economic declines, according to a new study out of Norway. In Norway, publicly subsidized high-quality early childhood education and care is available to all children, from low-income to affluent, starting at age 1. The study found that children who don't take part in such programs have more early behavior problems when their families' income drops.
The study was conducted by researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the Norwegian Center for Child Behavioral Development, and Boston College. It appears in the journal Child Development.