Volume 12, Issue 10

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hot Topics

Today NIEER released data from The State of Preschool 2012: State Preschool Yearbook at a press conference at the National Press Club in the Washington, D.C. The State Preschool Yearbook series has tracked state-funded prekindergarten on measures of access, spending, and quality since 2002. This year’s report indicates that drastic funding cuts at the state level resulted in a 10-year low point in support for high-quality preschool education. In the 2011-2012 school year, state funding for pre-K decreased by over half a billion dollars, adjusted for inflation, the largest one-year drop ever. Spending per child dropped below $4,000 for the first time in a decade. In response to these steep cuts, access to preschool has stalled and provisions for quality have declined.

In the wake of President Obama putting pre-K on the national agenda in his State of the Union address and budget proposal, The State of Preschool 2012 shows that even as states emerge from the recession, pre-K continues to suffer despite decades of evidence showing high-quality pre-K produces substantial gains in school readiness, achievement and educational attainment, higher productivity in the labor force, and decreases in social problems like crime and delinquency. “The state of preschool is a state of emergency,” remarked NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett.

At today’s press conference, Dr. Barnett joined a panel that included  U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Vanguard Chairman Emeritus Jack Brennan, and AFT President Randi Weingarten. Moderated by Los Angeles Universal Preschool CEO Cecilia Ayala, panelists answered questions regarding the importance of early childhood education.  For those unable to travel to today’s press conference, video of the event is now available.  Dr. Barnett’s remarks and presentation are also available.

In a press release regarding The State of Preschool 2012, Dr. Barnett noted that “Even though the nation is emerging from the Great Recession, it is clear that the nation’s youngest learners are still bearing the brunt of the budget cuts.” To help remedy this situation, the authors of the report provide five policy recommendations for bolstering state-funded prekindergarten, including that every state should offer pre-K access to a majority of children in a decade from now. These recommendations can be read in the report’s executive summary.

As the media and others discuss the latest State Preschool Yearbook findings, feel free to pipe up on our social media channels. NIEER will be posting updates on The State of Preschool 2012 and other issues concerning early childhood education and care on our Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter pages. Feel free to leave us a comment or engage in conversation, using the hashtag #prekYB on Pinterest or Twitter.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

Policy Research Coordinator Megan Carolan writes about The State of Preschool 2012: State Preschool Yearbook, NIEER's annual report ranking all 50 states on preschool access, funding, and quality standards, in today's blog post.

New on nieer.org

The latest update in the State Preschool Yearbook series provides data on state-funded pre-K programs during the 2011-2012 school year as well as providing the context of a decade’s worth of research on state prekindergarten. Nationwide, The State of Preschool 2012 shows that enrollment stagnated while spending plunged and quality standards took a hit. However, state-specific and regional data indicates wide variability in the access, funding, and quality of preschool program based on location. Video from the press conference and charts from the report are also available.

NIEER Activities

In addition to today’s press conference, The State of Preschool 2012 findings were also discussed in the context of advancing preschool for all when NIEER Associate Director for Research Milagros Nores presented on the economics of investing in pre-K at an early childhood symposium in Trumbull, Connecticut. Sponsored by Cooperative Education Services (C.E.S.), the symposium also featured NIEER Scientific Advisory Board Member Barbara Bowman and Connecticut Director of Early Childhood Planning Myra Jones-Taylor as speakers. In addition, panel of four Connecticut school superintendents expounded on the importance of preschool education.

Tomorrow, NIEER and First Focus are proud to sponsor a briefing for Hill staffers on the latest findings on state-funded pre-K from The State of Preschool 2012 and their implications for federal policy. The event will feature a panel made up of NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett, Brookings Senior Fellow Ron Haskins, and White House Special Assistant to the President for Education Roberto Rodriguez. The panel will be moderated by First Focus President Bruce Lesley.

On May 16, NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett, along with NAEYC’s Deputy Executive Director Adele Robinson, will moderate a panel for a separate Congressional briefing. Sponsored by LAUP, NIEER, and NAEYC, the briefing will examine local models of quality early childhood education and care services and the role the federal government plays in bolstering such programs. Panelists at the event include Celia Ayala of LAUP, Philip Acord of Children’s Home, and Ronelle Nathaniel of Acelero Learning. A live broadcast of the event will be available on LAUP’s web site.

Early Education News Roundup

Monday, April 29, 2013
(The Washington Post)

State funding for preschool across the country dropped last school year after a decade of growth, tapping the brakes on the quality and reach of programs as President Obama has called for a massive expansion of early childhood education, according to a national survey scheduled for release Monday.

Monday, April 29, 2013
(The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC)

North Carolina had one of the best pre-kindergarten programs in the country in 2011-12, but it also experienced one of the nation’s biggest drops in enrollment, according to a report released Monday.

Monday, April 29, 2013
(Fox News)

State funding for pre-kindergarten programs had its largest drop ever last year and states are now spending less per child than they did a decade ago, according to a report released Monday.  The report also found that more than a half million of those preschool students are in programs that don't even meet standards suggested by industry experts that would qualify for federal dollars.

Friday, April 26, 2013
(Carlsbad Current-Argus, Carlsbad, NM)

Gov. Susana Martinez says the state education department will be able to expand pre-kindergarten education next year and fund all 40 programs across the state that applied for funding.  Martinez says that thanks to a $4.5 million increase in the budget approved by lawmakers for the 2013-2014 school year, the education department can fund 12 new PreK programs in areas including Roswell, Silver City and Taos.

Thursday, April 25, 2013
(WCAX TV, Burlington, VT)

Vermont legislators hope to decrease cost and increase academic achievement by expanding access to early education.  About 84 percent of Vermont towns already publicly fund pre-K, with about 38 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in those towns enrolled in those programs.

Monday, April 22, 2013
(Education Week)

Despite the announcement earlier this month that dozens of low-performing Head Start centers would lose grants after recompeting for the federal preschool funds, the Office of Head Start still refuses to specify which—leaving advocates to scrutinize the agency’s statements for details as the process grinds forward.