Volume 13, Issue 18

Friday, September 5, 2014

Hot Topics

This week brought the first day of school for 50,000 preschoolers in New York City’s newly expanded preschool program. Universal preschool was a key part of Mayor de Blasio’s election campaign and is one of the highest-profile accomplishments of his first year in office; a New York Times editorial went so far as to call it “a milestone of education reform.” Rapid implementation has presented some challenges, including concerns about contracts being executed in time; of the 1,100 private centers participating in the expansion, 9 will not open next week and 36 will not open this year. NIEER Director Steve Barnett appeared on Al Jazeera America’s Inside Story to discuss the importance of pre-K in light of New York’s program beginning this week. A recap of the panel discussion, which also featured Conor Williams of the New America Foundation and Robert Pondiscio of the Fordham Institute, can be seen here. Barnett also spoke with Marketplace on the economic benefits for New York City families, noting that New Yorkers paid the highest early education costs at age four of any state in the country. While city officials are focused on implementing this first year smoothly, their eyes are also on the future as they plan for an outside firm to evaluate the program. Putting an effective continuous improvement system in place that ensures all the city’s new classrooms provide a good to excellent education within a few years of start up is the next big hurdle.

NIEER and CEELO participated in a PBS Newshour Twitter Chat addressing questions including: How important is early childhood education? Could its impact last into adulthood? CEELO and NIEER provide numerous resources on exactly these topics, including a FastFact on Fadeout; a presentation on new research and the payoff to preschool; information on access to high quality care in the US--and details on where there are gaps; and information about state policies and programs in the annual NIEER Yearbook.  See the CEELO publications page, and NIEER’s research and publications pages. Highlights of the chat have been compiled by NewsHour here along with a summary of NIEER and CEELO’s roles.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

It’s back-to-school time. This week, guest blogger Lindy Buch, Ph.D., discusses transitions. She retired in June as the director of early childhood education and family services, after almost two decades with the Michigan Department of Education.  

Resources

CLASP has released updated fact sheets on participation in the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, using 2012 data. Fact sheets are available for both infants and toddlers as well as school-age children.

A new article by Elizabeth Adamson and Deborah Brennan from the International Journal of Early Childhood uses examples from Australia and England to "question the compatibility of social investment and private investment in ECEC."

A recent report from the Migration Policy Institute explores the unique early childhood needs of recent immigrant families and the barriers to accessing existing appropriate programs.

CEELO Update

A new FastFact from Steve Barnett and Megan Carolan explores what research says on fadeout of preschool positive impacts and the long-term benefits of preschool. 

Calendar

Monday, September 8, 2014 -
1:30pm to 2:30pm

This webinar on the Family and Provider/Teacher Relationship Quality (FPTRQ) Measurement Development project, which has developed measures of provider/teacher practices that facilitate a positive family and provider or teacher relationships, is for state and local administrators/policymakers and federal staff.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 -
10:00am to 11:00am

This webinar on the Family and Provider/Teacher Relationship Quality (FPTRQ) Measurement Development project, which has developed measures of provider/teacher practices that facilitate a positive family and provider or teacher relationships, is for researchers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 -
1:00pm to 2:00pm

This webinar on the Family and Provider/Teacher Relationship Quality (FPTRQ) Measurement Development project, which has developed measures of provider/teacher practices that facilitate a positive family and provider or teacher relationships, is for practitioners, providers, and PD communities.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 -
12:30pm to 4:30pm

The National Center for Children in Poverty is celebrating its 25th anniversary with an afternoon celebrating progress made and the path ahead. Panel discussions will also be streamed online, available here

Friday, October 10, 2014 -
7:30am to 4:30pm

The Center for Early Education Evaluation at HighScope will hold its Third Annual Conference for Early Childhood Research and Evaluation on the theme "Measuring Program Quality: Translating Research Into Policy and Practice." Registration is now open.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 6:30pm

This forum will explore the benefits of early childhood education and a discussion of how tax resources are allocated in the education system.

Friday, October 17, 2014 -
7:30am to 4:30pm

The South Carolina Early Childhood Research Symposium is a forum for the exchange of ideas among early childhood researchers representing the health, education, safety, policy, economic, and other sectors. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 6:30pm

NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett will be honored at the annual Preschool Advantage Turning Leaves Gala. Every $4,000 raised from sponsors will cover the tuition for a New Jersey child to attend preschool. There are a variety of sponsorship and advertising opportunities, available here

Friday, November 14, 2014 - 8:30am to Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 1:00pm

The conference will focus on "The Power of the Teacher-Child Relationship: Encouraging, Inspiring, Transforming"

Friday, November 21, 2014 - 8:00am to Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 5:00pm

The conference will focus on exploring identities in a changing world (including but not limited to gender, culture, religion, linguistics, ability and environment) as well as supporting equity in research, practice, and policy. 

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, September 4, 2014
(The Roanoke Times)

As children head back to school, a new campaign aims to shine a light on quality child care and preschool programs.

“Back to School with Q – School Readiness Starts with Quality” will highlight area programs participating in the Virginia Star Quality Initiative and Smart Beginnings initiatives that are affecting school readiness.

Thursday, September 4, 2014
(NPR)

Glenn Peters knew he would be in the minority when he started training to teach preschool as part of New York City's rollout of universal pre-K, the largest such initiative in the country. But he didn't realize just how rare men are in the profession until he attended a resume-building workshop for aspiring pre-K teachers.

Thursday, September 4, 2014
(The Hechinger Report)

A new report by the research and advocacy group Voices for Illinois Children provides insight into the extent of the disparities in that state, along racial and economic lines. The findings are particularly stark for Latino children, only 40 percent of whom attended preschool in Illinois at most recent measure, compared with 58 percent of white children and 55 percent of black children. In Chicago, preschool enrollment was lowest on the northwest and southwest sides, both predominantly Latino, and highest on the affluent north side. Also in the important-but-not-surprising camp: Forty-four percent of young children in low-income Illinois homes attended preschool in 2012, compared with 60 percent in wealthier households. When the authors looked at different geographic regions, the gap extended across the entire state. And that’s just access. Quality is another matter entirely, one much harder to measure, and not quantified specifically in the new report. But a national rating scale estimates that only about a third of preschool programs anywhere, public as well as private, qualify as “good.”Once again, look at class and race, and children from wealthier homes are more likely to attend good programs. African-American children are least likely to attend quality programs.

Thursday, September 4, 2014
(The New York Times)

Under the stewardship of Carmen Fariña, the schools chancellor, who has spoken frequently about her commitment to joyful learning, more and more poor children will theoretically be taught as the city’s affluent children are, which is to say according to the principles of immersive, play-based, often self-directed and project-driven learning. Different corners of the classroom will be devoted to various kinds of play — blocks, for instance, or dramatic play. Certain subjects will be taught intensely for one to three weeks at a time. If a teacher is doing a segment on botany, a child may choose to open a flower shop in the area devoted to dramatic play, as Sophia Pappas, the city’s director of early education, explained to me. If a group of children spontaneously decide one day to open a restaurant, she said, a teacher might suggest to them that the way to remember what their friends have ordered is to write the orders down. The hope is that the child will then begin to try and sound out the spelling of a word like “pizza. . .”

A long-term study by the HighScope Foundation, an educational research group, compared the outcomes for at-risk, economically disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-olds randomly assigned to different preschool groups deploying different types of curriculum. By age 15, those who had more progressive preschool instruction reported half as much delinquency as those who had received more conventionally rigorous academic training. By 23, those who had been taught according to a more child-centric paradigm demonstrated fewer felony arrests, less emotional impairment and more aspiration to higher learning.
 

Thursday, September 4, 2014
(The New York Times)

It was the first day of prekindergarten for 36 children there and more than 51,000 of their tiny peers across New York City, the start of a vast and ambitious expansion of prekindergarten in the nation’s largest school system. Mayor Bill de Blasio, elected on promises of fighting income inequality, trumpeted the expansion of prekindergarten as a crucial step in leveling the playing field among children and declared it his first priority. His push to expand the system so rapidly, more than doubling it in eight months, is seen as a crucial test for his young administration.

For the city’s 1.1 million public school students, Thursday was the start of a school year with a variety of shifts and challenges, like the continued adoption of the Common Core standards and significant modifications to the teachers’ union contract. But all eyes were on the prekindergarten programs, spread across the city at 600 public schools and 1,100 community-based organizations and religious schools that pledge secular instruction during city-funded prekindergarten time.

Thursday, September 4, 2014
(The Wall Street Journal)

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina kicked off the school year at a Brooklyn preschool Thursday morning to highlight their ambitious push to provide free full-day early education for more than 50,000 4-year-olds citywide. Mr. de Blasio said preschool would give children a strong start for the academic careers, noting that “when you’re building a house, the most important thing is to build a strong foundation.”

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
(Marketplace)

On Thursday, more than 50,000 4-year-olds in New York City get to go to full-day kindergarten. The best part? It's free, in a place where early education is the most expensive in the nation, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, says many working low-income families previously had to rely on family or neighbors for childcare, which can be unreliable. He says for middle class families, universal pre-K frees up money for them to buy more stuff, take more vacations, and spend more on a mortgage. "You could maybe do some more saving for college," he says.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
(FindLaw)

The state has retooled its kindergarten readiness assessment this year to measure students' social skills and whether they can perform fine-motor tasks, like hold a pencil properly. As all kindergarten teachers will do this year, Hilbert will spend as much time teaching in the first few weeks as she will observing student behavior. "Without some of those core social pieces, it's going to be really hard for them to learn what we're expected to teach because we do a lot of working together and taking turns, sharing supplies and material," she said. "So that maturity is required." A new report card, the Transition Skills Summary or TSS, documents Summit County preschoolers' academic, social and physical abilities. The information is relayed to parents, who work with kids over the summer, and kindergarten teachers, who might otherwise not know their incoming class. "Our goal by 2016: we'd like every child who leaves preschool to get the TSS and for the parent to get this report, which details what you can do tomorrow to help prepare your child for kindergarten," said Matt Deevers, a researcher with the Summit Education Initiative.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
(Daily News)

Mayor de Blasio will ring the morning bell Thursday on his signature program to deliver full-day pre-K to more than 50,000 3- and 4-year-olds. They said it couldn’t be done. In an Op-Ed alongside this column, First Lady Chirlane McCray expresses understandable pride in the administration’s accomplishment — and optimism that the launch of pre-K will be a “game-changer” for early childhood education.

If it truly becomes that, and if the stubborn achievement gap between poor and minority students and their generally better-off white and Asian counterparts shrinks, greatly accelerating learning in all public schools in the process, the de Blasio administration will have accomplished a near-unprecedented feat. Two overarching factors will be key to determining whether de Blasio’s pre-K push produces lasting gains: the quality of the full-day program and a seamless transition from the first year of schooling to those that follow.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
(Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel)

As thousands of children swarmed back to public schools Tuesday in Wisconsin, the smallest of the bunch headed somewhere equally important: Early education centers. In Milwaukee, that included Next Door, a longtime provider of federally financed Head Start programs for low-income families with infants as young as 6 weeks, to 3-, 4- and 5-year-old children in preschool. Because of a major shake-up recently in how the federal government awards Head Start grants, Next Door welcomed 420 additional 3- and 4-year-old children Tuesday at its new building at N. 53rd St. and W. Capitol Drive. Milwaukee Public Schools and other urban districts are often criticized for the overall low reading and math achievement of their children, particularly those from low-income and/or minority backgrounds. . .

But the gap in achievement between these students and their white peers often starts long before they have contact with a traditional school district. Next Door is trying to bridge that birth-to-preschool gap.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
(The Doctor Will See You Now)

The saying, “Everything I really need to know I learned in kindergarten” may be truer than you think. Adding to the long list of reasons why good nutrition is important during the preschool years, a new study finds that little kids’ brains need massive amounts of glucose during those pre-K years to develop properly; and that's one big reason why childhood lasts as long as it does.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
(Wall Street Journal)

New schedules are just one of many changes ahead for the nation's largest school system this year, the first to be kicked off by Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Chancellor Carmen Fariña. They have expanded free preschool, given some schools more freedom to experiment and promised a spirit of collaboration with the United Federation of Teachers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
(Aspen Institute)

As students across the US begin a new school year, education topics from the Common Core to charter schools are prominent in the news. New York City’s public schools are no exception. After a period of activity aimed at reforming New York’s schools under the leadership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, many wondered how the transition to Mayor Bill de Blasio would affect the city’s students. Would de Blasio be able to implement his campaign promises in education, most notably his commitment to send all New York City children to Pre-kindergarten (Pre-K)?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
(Capital)

The de Blasio administration is in the process of hiring an independent research firm at a cost of about $2 million to conduct two studies on the implementation and results of its signature pre-kindergarten plan, Capital has learned. The study looking at the programs' implementation will use a random sample of 200 pre-K sites around the city. Education officials also told Capital that the firm will use two national standards for early childhood evaluation, the CLASS system and theEnvironment Rating Scale, for its data collection on pre-K quality. The firm will conduct interviews and convene focus groups with pre-K employees; review attendance and demographic data; and eventually compare performance for pre-K and non-pre-K students for the first two years of the expanded program.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
(Marketplace)

On Thursday, more than 50,000 4-year-olds in New York City get to go to full-day kindergarten. The best part? It's free, in a place where early education is the most expensive in the nation, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, says many working low-income families previously had to rely on family or neighbors for childcare, which can be unreliable. He says for middle class families, universal pre-K frees up money for them to buy more stuff, take more vacations, and spend more on a mortgage. "You could maybe do some more saving for college," he says.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
(Chron)

The inaugural Seattle Times LiveWire event, “The Case for Early Learning,” will bring together brain scientists with expertise in learning that occurs from birth through age five, political leaders who are advocating voluntary, tax-supported universal preschool for all, and others with great expertise on the topic.

The forum, moderated by Seattle Times education reporter John Higgins, will explore: 

  • The benefits of early childhood education for children
  • The implications for improving educational outcomes as children progress through school
  • Thoughtful dialogue on how limited public tax resources are allocated across the entire education system
  • Choices citizens and elected officials may be forced to make with regard to those public tax resources
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
(OregonLive)

Millions of 3- and 4-year-olds will begin preschool this week, but millions of others will not have the same opportunity to benefit from early education. Long-term studies have found that children who attend preschool are more likely to graduate from high school, attend a four-year college, and earn a higher salary. Preschool helps to fulfill education's greatest ideal: All students, whether low-income or affluent, deserve the same chance to build a productive, fulfilling life. . .

In Oregon, roughly half of our children are born poor, and many of them begin kindergarten behind their classmates. As we work to build the economy, we need to create an integrated system that helps families develop healthy, stable households where parents are able to nurture, support and contribute to the education of their children.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
(NJ.com)

Seeking to improve the quality and availability of child care in Mercer County, a city group has launched a program called the “Steps to Quality.”

Child Care Connection will work with 12 child care providers in the county, offering professional development, on-site coaching, mentoring and technical assistance.

“It is our goal to show that intensive intervention with child care providers would make a difference in the quality of the early education opportunities offered to children,” said Nancy Thomson, Child Care Connection’s executive director. “The most critical period of development for a child is the first three years, a time when many children are in child care. As children from low-income families are especially vulnerable, we are focusing on improving the quality of care provided in their communities.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
(Star Tribune)

Most studies show that all-day kindergarten gives students an academic boost through first grade. After that, there’s less consensus.

Full-day kindergarten provides the most long-lasting benefits for poor students, studies show, particularly those learning to speak English and those with special needs.

State education leaders say all-day kindergarten might be the key to reversing the state’s achievement gap between white and minority students.

“When you factor in the work we’ve done with the 0 to 3 population and our work with early learning scholarships for preschool, we feel like all-day kindergarten could really be a game changer,” said Bobbie Burnham, director of early learning services for the state Department of Education.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
(Seattle.gov)

For the last several months, the Murray Administration has been working to shape the new department responsible for supporting early learning, K-12 and higher education in Seattle. Most of the positions in the new department would be filled by existing city employees moving from Seattle’s Human Services Department, Office for Education and other organizations. Existing functions consolidated into DEEL will include: Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, Comprehensive Child Care Program and other early learning services and initiatives Elementary, Middle School, and High School academic and social support programs School-based health services operated by the city Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative All Families and Education Levy programs.

Monday, September 1, 2014
(New York Times (Opinion))

The start of public school on Thursday in New York City should be the usual merry scramble of chattering children and stressed (or relieved) parents. There will also be something new: a fresh crop of 4-year-olds, more than 50,000, embarking on the first day of free, full-day, citywide, city-run prekindergarten.

It’s worth pausing to note what an accomplishment this is. Fifty thousand is a small city’s worth of children, each getting a head start on a lifetime of learning. It is so many families saving the cost of day care or private prekindergarten. It is a milestone of education reform.

Monday, September 1, 2014
(Bangor Daily News (ME))

The earliest years of childhood are crucial. It is when the brain is the most active, forming connections and building a foundation that will have profound implications for a child’s future. This is a critical period that shapes a child’s chances for success in school, the workplace and in other areas of life. It not only is a time that sets the course for the development of language skills and higher cognitive functions, but it also is a time where investment provides significant returns for both the child and community.

Quality early learning helps children thrive. Research shows that early education makes a significant difference in rates of high school graduation, labor force participation and earnings.

Monday, September 1, 2014
(Palm Beach Post (Commentary))

When children experience a holistic environment which supports their learning at home and at school, they are more likely to graduate, obtain meaningful jobs and do well over time. In these many ways, they have an opportunity to experience social and economic mobility that may not otherwise be possible.

Prioritizing investment in early childhood education is one of the best things Florida can do to improve education, health and economic outcomes. Recognizing the importance of early childhood education, in 2004 PNC launched Grow Up Great — a $350 million multiyear, multilingual program that has impacted more than 2 million children from birth to age 5.

Monday, September 1, 2014
(Times-Post)

Dayton and House Democrats hope voters will appreciate investments in education, from preschool through college, even if it took tax increases to get there. Universal all-day kindergarten is the signature piece. Increased state funding is meant to get rid of a patchwork where some schools offered the full-day to kindergartners at district expense while others didn't bother or had parents pay as much as $2,500 to get their children more than half-day.

Monday, September 1, 2014
(Harvard Political Review)

“If public policy were based just on what we know works, universal pre-kindergarten education would already be the law of the land,” a Seattle Times editorial put it. “But such a utopia is not to be found. The Washington legislature is moving, slowly, in that direction; Congress, less so. Cities have begun to redefine the public duty to the tiniest of students.”

Friday, August 29, 2014
(Wall Street Journal)

On a day when Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to showcase news that the city's full-day preschool program had signed up 30,000 children more than last year, he fielded questions on Thursday about why hundreds of contracts for centers hadn't been delivered to the comptroller for review. . . . The mayor brought top aides to a news conference to help address Comptroller Scott M. Stringer's complaint on Wednesday that he had received only 141 of roughly 500 center contracts he should have gotten from the education department for vetting.

The mayor said the delay in delivering contracts had "zero impact" on safety, and that his staff had been working to inspect sites and ensure they were ready to welcome more than 50,000 students. His administration said only five sites had health violations outstanding that needed to be addressed immediately, and any centers with unresolved problems wouldn't open.

Friday, August 29, 2014
(Al Jazeera America)

The mayor aims to get at least 53,000 youngsters in classrooms for the inaugural year. So far, just over 50,000 kids have signed up.

On this edition of “Inside Story,” we ask whether New York’s emphasis on universal pre-K is a worthwhile priority and if it is possible to measure the payback.

Thursday, August 28, 2014
(New York Times)

Expanding free full-day prekindergarten to all 4-year-olds was one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature campaign proposals, and his administration has invested heavily in it, training thousands of teachers and hiring close to 200 fire and health inspectors, teaching coaches and “enrollment specialists” like Ms. Jones to make sure the first phase of the effort, involving 53,000 seats, rolls out next week without major problems.

On Thursday, Mr. de Blasio announced that the city was close to reaching its enrollment goal, with 50,407 children signed up so far.

“Parents get what this means for their kids,” the mayor said. “They understand the difference between their child getting a strong start and not getting it.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
(ABC7Chicago)

The Chicago Teachers Union is calling for the city to adopt a universal preschool system that provides a full day of early care and education for children under the age of 5. They say that under the current system, children are at risk of losing access to educational programs that would "foster cognitive learning, academic achievement, social skills and emotional development."

The Teacher's Union noted that state funding for early childhood education has fallen 25 percent since 2009, and said preschool enrollment rates among minorities, in particular, continue to slide. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
(Newsworks)

Parents searching for high-quality pre-kindergarten options for their children can be overwhelmed trying to find a school they can trust. On Tuesday, a coalition of nonprofit education advocacy organizations announced it will give parents a huge helping hand.

At the lead of the Philadelphia School Partnership, a new website is allowing parents to easily search and compare high quality pre-K options. It can be accessed through GreatPhillySchools.org, an existing site that evaluates K-12 options.

"High-quality early childhood education is the best strategy to break the cycle of poverty and to help our schools be more successful," said Sharon Easterling, executive director of the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young People, one of the initiative's key collaborators.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
(Wall Street Journal)

With the official start of school on Sept. 4, it is up to Ms. Fariña, a 71-year-old grandmother who began her 49-year career as a teacher, to deliver on MayorBill de Blasio's promise to provide free full-day preschool for 53,000 children.

She also faces space shortages, a large group of children who arrive speaking little English and many schools with dismal achievement records. A report released Monday by StudentsFirstNY found 75 district schools where no child in an entire grade level passed a state test in math or language arts.

Despite challenges, Ms. Fariña expressed optimism in an interview about her plans for overseeing 1.1 million students. September "is the month when all is possible," she said.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
(Chicago Sun Times)

We know that the early years are the most important for learning. For the first time in history, approximately 30,000 CPS kindergarten students are attending school for a full day. And to make sure that all children start school ready to learn, 75 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in Chicago whose families live below the poverty level now have access to quality preschool programs. We have committed the City of Chicago to achieving universal preschool access for all of its children in poverty.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
(Al Jazeera America)

If you want the best for your daughter, consider moving north. Where girls live in America matters to their overall comfort, health and prosperity, according to a report ranking every U.S. state and the District of Columbia. The latest in a series of reports on girls’ health and well-being by the Girl Scouts Research Institute shows that girls generally fare better in the Midwest, Northeast and mid-Atlantic.

“It has to do partly with strong education,” said Mark Mather, the report’s lead researcher and a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a research organization in Washington, D.C. . . . States that offer preschool education and have lower high school dropout rates almost always ranked higher. “It tells the story of the importance of education for girls,” Mather said. “A lot of states are moving towards universal preschool. Getting a good start makes a difference for low-income families.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
(IndyStar [Op-Ed])

The debate over Mayor Greg Ballard’s preschool proposal comes down to one question: Do at-risk children have a better chance of succeeding in kindergarten if they have spent a year or two in a high-quality preschool?. . .

But to me, it all goes back to that fundamental question: Does a solid year in preschool give a child — a child who perhaps has not been given all of the advantages that many others receive — a better chance at succeeding when they walk into kindergarten. Because that is preschool’s most important job: to give kids a better chance of succeeding on Day One of a 13-year journey. Just as kindergarten’s most important job is to prepare students to succeed in first grade, and education’s ultimate goal is to prepare young people to succeed in life.
 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Mayor Bill Peduto has named a 20-member “Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Early Childhood Education” to try to help secure a federal grant for preschool education. In a news release, Mr. Peduto said, “Pittsburgh must keep developing as a city of learning — a city committed to exemplary education of its citizens from birth to career and from career to lifelong learning — and providing early childhood education is essential to that development.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
(New York Times)

With less than two weeks before the public school year begins, the last-minute addition of more than 100 prekindergarten seats in a crowded Brooklyn district brought parents out in droves on Tuesday.

By midmorning, on the first of at least five days that children in District 15 could be entered in a lottery for the new slots, the auditorium at Public School 10 in South Slope was thrumming with the sounds of restless children and their anxious chaperones. And there were already about 90 names on the list for 126 seats.

Monday, August 25, 2014
(Fox4KC.com)

Leaders from the U.S. Department of Education were in town Monday to discuss how children can learn more at a younger age. The conference, which took place at the Kauffman Foundation, was focused on closing the word gap.

Research shows that children in poor families hear about 30 million fewer words by the time they turn three, than similar kids from more well-to-do households. And that word gap often results in an achievement gap for those kids, both in school and throughout their lives.

Monday, August 25, 2014
(Daily News)

A new summary of 12 years of study on North Carolina's pre-kindergarten plan for at-threat 4-year-olds shows that "dual-language learners" make the greatest academic progress in the plan. According to the report from the Frank Porter Graham Kid Development Institute (FPG), when students in NC Pre-K advance across all spheres of studying, the plan is especially beneficial for the state's dual-language learners.

Sunday, August 24, 2014
(The Kansas City Star)

It doesn’t matter, with Kansas City pushing a citywide campaign, whether the financing cavalry of federal grants, state funding or local levies is coming. Families and communities need to help children overcome the word deficit described by researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley as the “30 million word gap.” That’s the cumulative difference in the number of words children hear in typical lower-income homes compared with the number typically heard in more-affluent homes. . . 
 

The district took in about 500 4-year-olds the first day and is expecting to get close to 600 when enrollment fills out in the next couple of weeks. Kansas City Public Schools, while still working with many partners on how to get the community to universal pre-K, is expanding from 866 to about 1,200 children in its programs this year, racing its own construction deadlines to open a second center, said Jerry Kitzi, director of early education.

Sunday, August 24, 2014
(cleveland.com)

Daycare has been pretty educational from the start. But this is pre-K, a construct that seems like a magic potion for success. Studies show that regular, high-quality preschool — with low teacher-to-child ratios and thoughtful curriculum — make children more likely to graduate from high school and go to college, own a home and stay out of prison. Preschool-prepared children score higher on standardized tests and earn higher average salaries.

Saturday, August 23, 2014
(Times Herald)

“Kindergarten today is what first grade was a few years ago,” said Karen Paciorek, early childhood professor at Eastern Michigan University and former elementary school teacher. Expectations for kindergartners have increased in the past decade as the state moved toward the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and more children came into kindergarten with more knowledge from preschool, Paciorek said. In 2012, the state mandated schools make the move to full-day kindergarten starting in the 2013-14 school year if they hadn’t already. Schools that did not make the change would lose half of their per-pupil funding  for each kindergartner. More time at school meant more time for learning.

Saturday, August 23, 2014
(All Africa)

The importance of education is indisputable. The problem is that the international community's credibility in promising universal education has been compromised; it has pledged to achieve this goal in at least 12 UN-sponsored declarations since 1950. For example, UNESCO promised in 1961 that, by 1980, primary education in Africa would be "universal, compulsory, and free." Yet, when the time came, about half of primary-school-aged children in Africa were still not attending school. As the economist George Psacharopoulos recommended in a recent paper, the highest priority should be what works best: early education, especially preschool. The most obvious reasons why earlier education makes for a better starting point is that people are most receptive to knowledge when they are young. Moreover, at younger ages, there are fewer cultural barriers to education for girls, and there is less pressure for children to contribute labor. Finally, preschool education is less expensive to deliver than higher-level schooling.