Early Education in the News
Between 1970 and 2010, the number of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in both public and private preschool increased nearly four-fold, underscoring a growing awareness about the academic, social and emotional benefits of early childhood education. Studies have shown that low-income children who attend high-quality preschool are more successful academically, more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in postsecondary education, and experience lower rates of negative outcomes such as incarceration and teen pregnancy. While some states have cut funding for public pre-K in recent years, early childhood education continues to be a priority for most states and enjoys bipartisan support. But we must do more to ensure all children have access to high-quality early childhood education regardless of where they are born.
Several school districts in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties will be among dozens in New York state to receive state funding as part of an ongoing initiative to build a full-day Universal pre-Kindergarten program.
About $340 million will go out to 81 school districts and community-based organizations, opening 37,000 pre-K slots in the state, according to a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. The money was included in the 2014-2015 budget and is the first installment of $1.5 billion committed by the state to the project over five years.
Michigan’s big investment in a state-funded preschool program will give thousands of additional children a shot at a better start to their education this coming school year. That opportunity is coming via the second year of a two-year, $130-million increase in funding for the state’s Great Start Readiness Program — one of Gov. Rick Snyder’s big priorities. The program takes kids who are poor or at risk and puts them through classes and activities that help prepare them for kindergarten.
State education officials are looking to expand preschool services to Kentucky families. Kentucky is among 35 states that qualify for the expansion grants, said Terry Floyd, the education department’s chief of staff. But only a few of the 35 states will be selected to participate in the $160 million expansion grant program.
As the lifelong impacts of high-quality early childhood education have become better known, the early years of a child’s life have become a matter of education policy. It’s also important to remember the importance of publicly supported child care and early childhood education as a way of supporting working families.
People who are most skeptical of the program point to the infamous “fade out” effect. Head Start does provide an academic boost to participating children as they go into kindergarten, but their advantage fades away by third grade. This is sometimes held up as an example of the program’s failure, although others argue that strong early childhood education — whether provided by Head Start or another program — is more like a vaccine. The more children who enter kindergarten well prepared, the less time and energy teachers have to devote to helping kids who are behind catch up to the kids with, well, the head start.
Alabama's Pre-K program is ranked one of the highest in the nation, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. This year, more Pre-K classes are open than ever before, and more than 1,800 additional children are enrolled, thanks to the expansion of the state's "First Class" grant program.
The skills of reading, writing and basic math are attained by some children who attend preschool. This can provide preschoolers with a significant head start over children with no pre-kindergarten education. Studies have shown the gap between the two groups grows as their schooling progresses. The benefits of preschool are especially important for children deemed “at risk.” These advantages of have led many parents and politicians, including civic leaders in Pittsburgh and across the state of Pennsylvania, to call for state-funded preschool.
After years of budget cuts, enrollment in state-funded preschool programs in Illinois has fallen to levels not seen in nearly a decade – before the state rolled out its ambitious Preschool for All initiative, according to a new report by Voices for Illinois Children. . .
While state funds are limited, Hawley’s office has successfully pursued other federal grant opportunities, including millions of dollars in Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grants, to expand early childhood education opportunities in the state. She said Illinois will also be preparing an application for a new $250 million preschool development grant competition that was announced earlier this week.
But despite the advances, there has been a recent uptick in the single most important factor for predicting a child’s school readiness and life outcomes generally: whether or not he or she lives in poverty. After recessions end, the child poverty rate tends to continue climbing, and current circumstances appear no different. Even with different ways to measure it and different conclusions, KIDS COUNT shows a reversal of some of the gains made earlier in the past quarter-century, with approximately 16.4 million kids officially living in poverty in 2012. The number of children in single-parent homes was up, too: 35 percent, versus 25 percent in 1990. . .
What that means in practical terms is a great need for high quality early childhood education to help prevent the achievement gap that so often is already entrenched for poor children before kindergarten. But many states have been cutting back just as the need intensifies.
The mayor’s office is working with the City-County Council, United Way of Central Indiana and a collaboration of business, government, schools, philanthropic, corporate and other organizations to take full advantage of the funding available from the state for qualifying low-income families. Is it affordable? All the available studies, data and just plain common sense suggest we need to reframe the question: How can we afford not to invest in helping our children define a path to self-sufficient adulthood, while also safeguarding the long-term well-being of Indianapolis?
Kindergartners may not have to do literary analysis, but academic expectations for the new students are definitely rising in public schools. Experts call this shift toward higher academic expectations a push-down effect. Policymakers across the nation are increasingly concerned about how American students rank on international comparisons, and education reformers often point to third-grade test scores as an indicator for later academic success. With that focus, the pressure on earlier grades has heated up.
And somewhat amazingly, a baby’s level of level of anticipatory smiling—her interest in sharing positive experiences—seems to predict future social behavior. . .
This interest led me to the work of James Heckman, the Nobel-winning economist who’s one of the most prominent advocates for investment in early-childhood education. it’s about an intensive, small-scale early-childhood programs that took place in the past. But this one took place in a developing country—in Kingston, Jamaica. And it dealt with extremely young and extremely poor children, from nine to 24 months who were “growth-retarded": stunted from malnutrition. Heckman and his colleagues found that these extremely disadvantaged children, developmentally behind their peers just a handful of months into their life, saw immense benefits decades after the program.
Now, more than half of Matthew’s Hope’s clients are women and young children, making the need for a preschool even greater. He hopes the preschool will solve some of those issues so parents can concentrate on their job search knowing their children are in a safe environment. What Billue doesn’t want to do is provide a simple babysitting service.
Like increasing numbers of low-income mothers and fathers, Ms. Navarro is at the center of a new collision that pits sophisticated workplace technology against some fundamental requirements of parenting, with particularly harsh consequences for poor single mothers . . . . Scheduling is now a powerful tool to bolster profits, allowing businesses to cut labor costs with a few keystrokes. “It’s like magic,” said Charles DeWitt, vice president for business development at Kronos, which supplies the software for Starbucks and many other chains.
Yet those advances are injecting turbulence into parents’ routines and personal relationships, undermining efforts to expand preschool access, driving some mothers out of the work force and redistributing some of the uncertainty of doing business from corporations to families, say parents, child care providers and policy experts.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell has announced a $1,000,000 fiscal year 2014 grant award to Delaware as part of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program established by the Affordable Care Act. These funds will allow Delaware home visiting programs to continue and expand voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services to women during pregnancy and to parents with young children up to age 5.
“The Home Visiting Program helps to ensure that young families have the option to participate in a program that promotes their children’s healthy growth and development,” Burwell said.
Head Start, of course, is much more than child care. It is full-on early childhood education. The educators who work with children and families are not simply supervising kids to make sure they have a safe place to be. They are using curriculum and instruction to give students that well-documented boost as they go into kindergarten.
As with most areas of education, it’s important for Head Start to be well-funded and to invite democratic participation from families and educators. The state and local early childhood and family education programs the serve a similar function deserve the same. Public understanding of the significance of high-quality opportunities for very young children has been growing clearer, and public programs like Head Start have a critical role to play in ensuring we have a robust system to guarantee those opportunities.
Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia, which have already won federal grants to bolster their early-learning systems—or have robust early-childhood programs in place—could tap into even more money to improve preschool programs, under a new, $250 million "preschool development" grant competition announced by the Obama administration Wednesday.
And 15 states and Puerto Rico, which are just getting started on their early-learning programs would be able to compete, on a somewhat separate track, for a portion of those funds.
Up to $20 million is up for grabs for Pennsylvania, under a new grant competition announced in Pittsburgh. The funds are to be used for expanding access to early-childhood learning programs. Ensuring all children have access to high-quality pre-K programs, Duncan said, is a critical investment into the future.
After a year's worth of work carefully researching and crafting a policy, the city council and the mayor this spring proposed a pilot preschool program they'd send to the fall ballot. If voters approve it, it'll be paid for by a four-year, $58 million property tax levy, costing average homeowners a little more than $3.50 a month. (Research shows that quality pre-K programs, among many benefits, can increase graduation rates and reduce incarceration rates; they offer generous returns on the public investment.) Starting in the 2015 school year, 280 of Seattle's 3- and 4-year-olds will have access to publicly funded preschool with sliding scale tuition, with free tuition for low-income families. That will ramp up annually until it serves 2,000 preschoolers in the 2018 school year. (There are approximately 12,000 3- and 4-year-olds in the city.) The plan is to expand enrollment even further if all goes well. Mayor Ed Murray's proposal cites an eventual "goal of serving all eligible and interested children within 20 years."
While that limited scale and slow ramp-up is deliberate to keep quality standards high as the program grows, according to city council president Tim Burgess, not everyone's thrilled.
A preschool director and a Rutgers University researcher will be honored by Preschool Advantage at its 11th Annual Turning Leaves Gala.
Preschool Advantage provides tuition for preschool education in Morris County and the surrounding communities for children of families in need.
This year's celebration will honor W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. Barnett is being recognized for his work in the field of economics of early education, including the long-term effects of preschool programs on children's learning and development, according to a news release from Preschool Advantage.