Volume 13, Issue 21

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hot Topics

This year has seen a rise of pre-K as a ballot issue, so it perhaps not a surprise that it would come under some attack in the weeks leading up to Election Day. Preschool critics don’t level any new charges, but rather repeat the litany of familiar talking points NIEER and others have disproven over the years. Research clearly demonstrates long-term benefits of quality pre-K, as highlighted in a recent CEELO FastFact; in a report from the Washington Institute for Public Policy; and in a myth-busting working paper NIEER released last year. Focusing narrowly on test scores or specific cognitive outcomes misses the multi-faceted goal of pre-K; research clearly shows reductions in grade retentions and special education that could potentially save millions of tax dollars, for example, and there are social and life-quality benefits beyond academic outcomes. Dismissing the findings of long-term studies of AbecedarianHigh/Scope Perry, and Chicago simply because they were small programs is short-sighted; these studies do not provide the final say in early childhood, but rather were stepping stones to bringing the field to where it is today. Ignoring other landmark studies, such as that by Deutsch and colleagues, several follow-up studies of state pre-K, and entire literatures that compare the effects of alternative curricula and other differences in approach to preschool is just turning a blind eye to much of the evidence. Economist Tim Bartik even has a new book breaking down the scholarly and economic evidence on preschool, and responded to some of the top myths and misconceptions on his blog. Indeed, the conversation on preschool has moved beyond whether it works, to increasing accessibility nationwide, how to use ongoing assessment meaningfully, integrating early childhood into teacher evaluation systems, meeting the needs of dual language learners, and closing access gaps. Long-term studies of the highest quality are essential to knowing how to best serve children, but refusing to act on what the research tells us now while waiting silently for someone else to do the research is a cost our children shouldn’t have to pay. There’s a reason Democrats and Republicans alike support preschool: it saves dollars and it makes sense.

Early childhood assessment has become a major focus in the field after they were required for recipients of the Race to the Top--Early Learning Challenge grants; a presentation from the  Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance center tracks the progress states have made in implementing these systems. A recent article in Education Week addressed concerns about whether tests were too academically focused for young children and raised questions about how they were used, holding up one Maryland classroom teacher as an example: “She draws her information from many moments of the day, including whole-group activities, small-group work, and time she spends one-on-one with the children. Some observations are spontaneous; most flow from carefully planned and scripted activities.” NAEYC’s position statement on assessment highlights best practices.  NIEER/CEELO Assistant Research Professor Shannon-Riley Ayers also addressed the “do’s” and “don’ts” of early childhood assessment in a recent blog, highlighting potential ways to avoid pitfalls. The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes has several resources on assessment in early childhood, summarized in this annotated bibliography.


The Build Initiative and Pennsylvania's Office of Child Development and Early Learning have released some guidelines on Enterovirus D68, and ways to prevent exposure and infection in early childhood programs.

This report, from Children at Risk, reports information from a survey of Texas Prekindergarten programs and particularly calls attention to the hard choices programs have made in the wake of state funding cuts.

A new brief from Third Way calls for instilling a “mobility mentality” in pre-K education by increasing the focus on social-emotional skills and “grit” that can serve children well across academic and non-academic undertakings.

In this new report, the Center for Great Teachers & Leaders explores how states can support paraprofessionals to improve student achievement.

This video from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard describes a theory of change for preparing caregivers and communities to improve environments to strengthen children’s learning, health, and behavior for lifelong positive change.

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) is looking for a new Co-Director with a strong early childhood TA background and experience in administration.  They are seeking a leader who can help with coordination across our multi-site project, and someone who understands the importance of being client-centered, as well as working collaboratively with TA partners. More information here

This report from The Education Commission of the States compiles the most commonly requested topics from preschool to third grade and responses to those questions from policymakers.

NIEER Activities

NIEER Associate Research Professor Kimberly Brenneman presented on a webinar The Importance of Early Childhood Education in Creating the STEM Workforce hosted by the ACCP and ReadyNation on October 16.

NIEER Director Steve Barnett presented at annual meeting of the National Association of State Boards of Education, “Leaders Learning from Leaders.” Barnett was joined by Harriet Dichter, early childhood consultant, and Clayton Burch of the West Virginia Department of Education to discuss “Building a Stronger Nation by Investing in Early Learning.”

CEELO Update

This new FastFact from NIEER/CEELO Assistant Research Professor Shannon-Riley Ayers and Vincent Constanza, Executive Director, of New Jersey's Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, reflects on The Early Childhood Academy, a professional learning community developed collaboratively in response to the need to support LEAs in effectively implementing new policies in early childhood

This new annotated bibliography by Diane Schilder focuses on Professional Development Systems and provides resources across three areas: professional development and planning, coaching and mentoring, and competency development. 

CEELO, in partnership with the BUILD Initiative, hosted a Think Tank on State Policy to Promote Effective Teaching and Learning for Young Children in Seattle on October 14, 2014. The Think Tank brought together 25 national and state experts to discuss best practice and policy recommendations to improve the quality of teaching at a sufficient scale and depth to improve outcomes for all children in all settings. The Think Tank preceded the annual meeting of the Alliance for Early Success.

The CEELO Advisory Board convened in Washington, DC, on October 7th and 8th, to discuss local, state, and national perspectives on early education, implications for state education agencies, and recommendations to CEELO leaders for strengthening technical assistance to state agencies and others. The diverse membership, representing research, higher education, philanthropy, and administration of local and state education agencies, contributed to rich discussion about school readiness, teacher quality and effectiveness, program evaluation and improvement, access, collaboration, and enhancing state capacity to promote sustainable P–3rd grade reform. The meeting  included a session with Libby Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Education Department/Office of Early Learning and Janelle Leonard, Director of School Support and Rural Programs/US Education Department, for Advisory Board members to share their observations of the evolving state of early education. CEELO’s leadership team  and staff will incorporate recommendations into its technical assistance plan for the upcoming year.


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. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 -
1:30pm to 6:30pm

The White House, in collaboration with LAUP and other Los Angeles County organizations, is hosting this forum, which is part of a multi-city tour focused on early learning. In addition to Secretary Duncan’s address, the day will include panels examining quality and public policy in early learning. Experts in education, philanthropy, government, and the business community will discuss the President’s early learning agenda and efforts in the local community to support early learning. (10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Pacific time)

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, October 24, 2014 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm

This webinar will preview the QRIS Online Compendium (qriscompendium.org) which is a catalog and comparison of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) to promote thoughtful design, analysis and ongoing improvement in early care and education systems building. This website demonstration will walk participants through the three main data tools from qriscompendium.org: 1) detailed profiles on a number of dimensions of QRIS for all of the systems operating in the US, 2) top ten facts about QRIS from 2014, and 3) the functionality to create customizable data reports about QRIS. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 8:00am to Saturday, November 8, 2014 - 5:00pm

Several NIEER researchers will be presenting at the 2014 NAEYC Conference, "Delivering on the Promise of Early Learning":

  • NIEER Researchers Alissa Lange, Kimberly Brenneman, and Jorie Quinn will present "Incorporating language into early math instruction using research-based, developmentally appropriate strategies and activities" (Omni Dallas Hotel, Dallas Ballroom F. 11/6/14, 10AM)
  • Kimberly Brenneman will also be contributing to the sessions "C4L (Connect4Learning): Interdisciplinary early childhood education including mathematics, science, literacy, and social-emotional development" (Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Ballroom C2. 11/5/2014, 8:30AM)  and "Integrating science, technology, and engineering in pre-K: Step up your practice by transforming common 'good start' preschool activities into intellectually rigorous, developmentally appropriate experiences" (Hutchison Convention Center, Room D166. 11/6/2014, 3PM)
  • NIEER Fellow Dorothy Strickland will be presenting at the sessions "Linking literacy standards, instruction, and assessment across the pre- to grade 2 continuum" (Convention Center. 11/6/2014, 10AM) and "Revelations and recommendations: Working on behalf of black children" (Omni Dallas Hotel. 11/6/2014, 7PM). 
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 -
11:45am to 1:00pm

NIEER's Associate DIrector of Research Milagros Nores will be speaking as part of the Rutgers GSE "Brown Bag Series." This presentation will focus on up cognitive, linguistic, socio-emotional, nutritional and social effects of this comprehensive educational and nutritional 0-5 intervention in north eastern Colombia. The event will be held in Room 124 of the Rutgers Graduate School of Education.

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. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 8:00am to Friday, December 12, 2014 - 5:00pm

The NTI is carefully developed to meet the learning and networking needs of those working with infants and toddlers in Early Childhood Education, Early Intervention, Mental Health, Early Head Start, Child Welfare, Parent Education, and Pediatrics.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015 -
4:00pm to 5:30pm

This event is part of the New York City Wonder of Learning Serioes. 

Early Education News Roundup

Friday, October 17, 2014
(IndyStar [Op-Ed])

It's been a year of long-overdue momentum for preschool in Indiana, with the state's first investment in it and major pushes from the city of Indianapolis as well as corporate and philanthropic organizations. Then came Thursday, and word that Gov. Mike Pence's administration had made the surprise, last-minute and largely unexplained decision not to apply for a federal education grant that could have brought Indiana up to $80 million more to spend on preschool programs for low-income students. That would have been several times more money than the state has committed to spending under a Pence-led pilot program.

Thursday, October 16, 2014
(Alaska Dispatch News)

The Oct. 14 deadline for the state of Alaska to apply for federal funds under the U.S. Department of Education's Preschool Development Grants program has come and gone. Alaska would have been eligible to apply for $10 million but did not submit an application. Unfortunately, this is just the latest example of Alaska choosing not to reclaim some of the federal tax dollars we pay and use them to increase early childhood opportunities in our state. Alaska is falling further and further behind when it comes to early childhood investments. According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, in the 2002-2003 school year, Alaska served 22 percent of its 4-year-old children in either Head Start or special education or state pre-kindergarten programs. A decade later, in the 2012-2013 school year, the picture remained the same -- 22 percent of Alaska’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in one of these three programs.

Thursday, October 16, 2014
(The Tennessean)

Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration wants nearly $70 million in federal funding for Nashville and Shelby County to expand early childhood education, but it won’t go toward expanding the state’s current prekindergarten program. If awarded the full amount requested, Metro Nashville Public Schools plans to add 1,600 pre-K seats by 2018. The Shelby County Consortium would add 3,580 seats over the same time period. With matching local public and private funding, there will be $109 million committed to opening 2,230 new preschool programs and improving a total of nearly 3,000 existing seats, according to the grant application.“We would welcome any extra funding for pre-K,” said Joe Bass, a spokesman for Metro Schools. “Pre-K is one of the biggest things you can do to help student achievement.”

Thursday, October 16, 2014
(U.S. News & World Report)

The White House on Thursday will announce a new initiative to encourage technological and research support to combat the word gap, a learning curve many low-income children face in their early years before entering school. Research has shown that children from lower income families on average hear 30 million fewer words in the first three years of their lives than those from wealthier families. Proponents of closing the gap say it’s important for parents to talk, read and sing with their children, but that low-income parents often don’t have the time or the resources to do so. The Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Institute of Museum and Library Services will partner to encourage more organizations to develop technologies and research that can help better spread information to the communities that need it, the White House will announce.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Science and politics shared the stage Wednesday night as two nationally known researchers discussed how a baby's brain is primed for learning from the moment of birth, and politicians underscored the need for a greater state commitment to early-childhood education.

"The Case for Early Learning," a panel discussion at Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, drew hundreds of parents, policymakers and education advocates interested in furthering state and local commitment to preschool education.

University of Washington brain scientists Patricia Kuhl and Andrew Meltzoff, co-directors of the UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) described how the timing and quality of play, stimulation and interactions with adults can help mold the developing mind, for better and for worse.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray explained why one of the most important initiatives of his administration is the passage of a pre-K pilot program to bring early-childhood education to low-income children.

"In a city that's so committed to issues of equality," said Murray, "I don't know anything else that is more important for us to do."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
(King5 News Seattle)

Seattle voters have a big decision to make next month regarding universal preschool for families in the city.

Voters must choose between two competing preschool propositions. Prop 1A, which is supported by a number of unions and Prop 1B, which is backed by Seattle's mayor and city council.

Voters will have two questions to answer. First, should either universal preschool measures be enacted into law? Second, regardless of whether you voted yes or no, if one of these measures is enacted, which should it be? Prop 1A or Prop 1B?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
(KRTV News)

Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT) unveiled his new early childhood education proposal this week; he says it could eliminate the wait lists for preschools across the state.

The governor visited the Early Family Learning Center at Skyline in Great Falls on Tuesday, where he read to pre-K students. Afterwards, he spoke with parents, teachers, and administrators about Early Edge Montana, his proposal to publicly fund early childhood education.

Bullock plans to ask the legislature for $37 million over two years to fund the program: "We're proposing that we end up giving block grants to the school district that can go through and both either have classes in the district, work with head start or community-based providers."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
(Saporta Report)

Likely voters in Georgia were asked whether the state should hold the line on taxes and spending or make sure that there is sufficient funding for needs such as education. More than two-thirds (68 percent) said it was more important to ensure adequate funding while 28 percent prefer holding the line on taxes. Majority support to fund education held true for every party affiliation.

Asked if they would support using a portion of lottery funds to provide voluntary Pre-K programs for 4-year olds, 87 percent were supportive compared to 83 percent four years ago. At the national level, Georgia voters were asked if they favored a Congressional plan to expand access to early childhood programs. There was 74 percent support for the Congressional plan to improve early childhood education.

Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, gave Georgia an aspirational goal–to reach every child with a high quality program.

“Georgia does better than most states,” Barnett said. “But its not in the top tier. With a few small changes, Georgia could move in the top tier states–reducing class size like North Carolina and Alabama." . . .  “Georgia can do better,” Barnett said. “It could once again be the national leader in Pre-K–make high quality the norm; make sure every classroom is high quality; and make sure there’s a reliability of state funding. All of these things could be done by 2020. Georgia could once again be the national leader in pre-K. Georgia needs to do this for its children, and Georgia needed to do this for its future.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
(Sun Herald)

Early childhood education -- both kindergarten and prekindergarten -- should be mandatory in Mississippi. Until then, this state will continue to struggle to educate children who are simply not ready to learn when they do have to start school...

Children without the benefit of pre-K and kindergarten instruction are entering the primary grades without the most basic of learning skills and comprehension. "We have got to have kids in kindergarten. It can't be an option," she told the Sun Herald. "To me, if we're going to improve education in this state -- and we are -- we have got to get children into high-quality learning as quickly as we can. And then have them prepared."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
(Chicago Tribune)

 In the fight against childhood obesity, there is bad news and good. There are a variety of reasons that preschoolers do not show the higher rates of obesity that older children exhibit, according to medical experts. "Because they're much younger, preschoolers haven't had as much time to become obese," said Dr. Garry Sigman, medical director of Loyola University Health System's Pediatric Weight Management Program in Maywood, Ill. "The energy imbalance that causes obesity doesn't happen right away, it takes weeks and weeks and years and years." Furthermore, Sigman said that a number of positive health messages have been disseminated over the past 10 years that are helping to get preschoolers on the right path and avoid becoming obese as they grow older.

Monday, October 13, 2014
(Montana Public Radio)

Governor Steve Bullock says it is time to give every four-year old Montana child access to a high-quality, early childhood education.

It is one of the priorities of the Bullock Administration going into the 2015 Montana Legislative session.

Bullock kicked off the "Early Edge Montana” initiative with stops today in Hardin and Billings. He'll be in Helena and Great Falls to talk about the program Tuesday, in Missoula on Wednesday, and Bozeman on Thursday. Lieutenant Governor Angela McLean will visit Browning to talk about it on Thursday. 

At the Billings YWCA, he told school officials pre-kindergarten is a voluntary program where communities and parents would retain control.

Monday, October 13, 2014
(The Beacon News (IL))

East Aurora School District is seeking a $1.1 million annual grant that would allow the district to offer full-day preschool to five classes of 4-year-olds starting next year — significantly expanding its preschool offerings.

“It would serve a lot of kids well,” Superintendent Michael Popp recently told the school board. “We’re really hopeful on this one.”

As of last month, East Aurora had 672 children in pre-kindergarten, though the district was still enrolling preschool students when that count was taken.

Monday, October 13, 2014
(Chalkbeat Indiana)

Mayor Greg Ballard’s plan to provide preschool to 1,300 low-income Indianapolis children next year may not be dead after all.

The Indianapolis City-County Council tonight voted to approve a $1 billion 2015 budget, and in it was a last-minute amendment that could put $1.7 million toward the mayor’s plan to cut crime and expand access to preschool.

Monday, October 13, 2014
(The Times (Shreveport))

A dispute over the Common Core education standards won’t sideline Louisiana’s application for up to $15 million in federal grant money for pre-kindergarten programs.

With a Tuesday deadline looming, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office announced that the Republican governor will agree to support Louisiana’s grant application for the money.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Statewide, kindergarteners have the lowest average daily attendance rate of any K-8 grade; just 94.5 percent during the 2012-13 school year, according to a Hechinger Report analysis of state education data. That means, on any given day, more than 2,300 Mississippi kindergarteners are out of school. The absences are leading to both academic and financial consequences in a state where students already lag behind their peers throughout the country, consistently posting some of the lowest test scores in the U.S. The absences also are leading to students falling behind just as they start their education. One in 14 Mississippi kindergarten students had to repeat their grade in 2008 because they weren’t prepared to move on, according to the Southern Education Foundation. In addition, when students don’t show up, schools lose money, as state aid is determined by average daily attendance. Plott was forced to let go of four teachers in kindergarten through second grade last year. With fewer instructors in the classroom, class sizes at Neshoba Central have increased; kindergarten class sizes grew from about 18 or 19 students last year to an average of 24 or 25 this year.

Sunday, October 12, 2014
(The Gazette)

At about $13,000, the average annual cost for full-time infant care in Colorado exceeds the price of most in-state college tuition and fees. Not far behind is the average price for preschool-age care in Colorado, at nearly $10,000 a year. Beyond the money parents hand over for the early care and education of their children are the impacts to businesses. Child care issues can result in lost productivity, absenteeism, decreased focus and a reduction in qualified workers because it's cost-prohibitive for some women to return to work after having a baby, said Gloria Higgins, president of Denver-based Executives Partnering to Invest in Children, or EPIC. Research shows that safe, stable and stimulating early childhood experiences are crucial to success as youngsters progress in school and on with their lives, she said. According to her organization, children who do not attend preschool are 50 percent more likely to require special education and 71 percent less likely to graduate high school. . .

Organizers are urging business leaders to start a grass-roots effort to help promote quality early childhood care and education. "I don't know that this community doesn't understand, but it hasn't coalesced on the issue and embraced it," Higgins said.

Saturday, October 11, 2014
(Desert News)

What are we to believe when Gov. Gary Herbert says he supports children and education but then turns down the opportunity to apply for a federal grant of up to $15 million for preschool programs for Utah’s poor kids? The money was available from the Department of Education to help states expand preschool to 4-year-olds from families with low to moderate incomes.

Saturday, October 11, 2014
(Yahoo Finance)

As the economy continues to grow, the middle class is shrinking rapidly. The disparity between the rich and the poor is becoming more and more obvious and The American Dream is quickly becoming a dream of the past. Is inequality inevitable or is there something we, as a nation, could do to create liberty and justice for all? In a recent policy brief, The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of Berkeley suggested invaluable recommendations to create a sustainable society where more than just the rich can thrive. We need to invest more in education. Studies show that areas with higher average test scores and lower rates of high school dropouts have the highest rates of economic mobility. Attendance of preschool programs, like Head Start, correlate to higher earnings in adults. These programs, and effective teachers, should be made available to all children, regardless of their neighborhoods, race, or SES.

Friday, October 10, 2014

This year, New York City will join New Jersey and Connecticut in requiring that children receive flu shots before attending licensed day-cares and preschools. Rhode Island is also expected to implement a similar measure. The New York City law is expected to reach about 150,000 children. Although experts say that similar mandates have definitely had a positive effect on infection rates, some say that large-scale study is “urgently needed” if immunization is becoming a part of public health policy. With flu seasons worsening across the country, New York City will require young children, 6- months to 5-years-old, to receive flu vaccinations to attend preschools and day-care centers. Parents will be expected to get the flu shots on their own, but if cost is a problem, medicaid will pay. The majority of New York City’s young children attend preschool, allowing policy makers a chance to get at a sizable population.

Thursday, October 9, 2014
(Federal Register)

The notices established October 14, 2014, as the deadline date for eligible applicants to apply for funding under the programs. However, the Departments have been informed that the Grants.gov Web site will be unavailable to applicants on October 11-12, 2014, due to a scheduled maintenance outage. To allow applicants additional time to complete their applications as a result of this outage, we are extending the deadline date for transmittal of applications to October 15, 2014.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Missouri education officials say they are seeking more than $17 million annually of federal grant funding for early childhood education efforts. The state agency says Missouri has been falling behind in early childhood education funding. It cites a study by the National Institute for Early Education Research which ranks Missouri’s funding 38th out of 41 states that have preschool programs.

Thursday, October 9, 2014
(The Times Herald)

During a Pre-K for PA campaign workshop Thursday morning at the Play and Learn Collegeville early childhood education center, local law enforcements officials, legislators and education specialists unanimously voiced their support for increased funding to early childhood education. . . 

Clash noted that a little more than seven percent, or approximately $2 billion, of Pennsylvania’s state budget is spent on the Department of Correction to house more than 50,000 inmates a year, which equates to approximately $40,000 per inmate per year. This pales in comparison to the $165.4 million Pennsylvania allocated for Pre-K in 2012-2013, which was approximately .6 percent of the budget, Clash said. Extra funding for education has the potential to reverse the current trends across Pennsylvania that Pre-K for PA hopes to combat. According to their reports, 70 percent of Pennsylvanians three-and four-year-olds do not have access to high-quality pre-K and 66 percent of Montgomery County’s children do not have that access. Of the county’s 19,320 children ages three and four, 5,973 live in families that are 300 percent below poverty.

Thursday, October 9, 2014
(The Huffington Post)

President Barack Obama's new goal of enrolling 6 million children in high-quality preschools by the end of the decade includes 3-year-olds, in addition to the 4-year-olds who are part of his earlier Preschool For All initiative, according to a White House official. Obama’s Northwestern speech marked the first time he had put a hard number on how many children he would like to see enrolled in early education programs in upcoming years, according to Education Week. “The president’s proposed Preschool for All plan would put a significant amount of money behind helping states expand access and improve the quality of their publicly funded pre-K programs,” wrote McCann. “But with an intractable Congress -- one that seems increasingly likely to be under Republican control in both chambers after the November midterm elections -- more money probably isn’t in the cards anytime soon.”

Thursday, October 9, 2014

 A new bipartisan North Carolina poll finds that North Carolina voters view early childhood education as a critical issue in the state and across the nation. Majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents support investments in early childhood programs in the state – including expanding access to Smart Start, Pre-K, teacher training and home visiting programs. More than four in five (83%) of North Carolina voters believe that investments in early childhood programs will benefit North Carolina’s economy in the short and long term. Voters ranked ensuring children get a strong start as a top priority for policymakers, second only to jobs and the economy and well ahead of reducing the tax burden on families. The poll was conducted by the bipartisan team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research for the First Five Years Fund and the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
(The Washington Post)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to provide universal preschool to the city’s 4-year-olds has so far disproportionately benefited children from middle- and upper-income families, according to a report released Wednesday that the mayor’s office is disputing. The report questions whether the new slots are being allocated fairly and whether the imbalance could exacerbate the inequalities and achievement gap that the program seeks to address. . .

W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University who has seen the report, also questioned the geographically based analysis and said it could be misleading, since it does not reflect the actual number of low-income studnets that are served in each place. The report suggests that the imbalance is tied to the greater availability of classroom space in more affluent neighborhoods and a stronger demand expressed by more economically secure families.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Federal and state policymakers can pursue ten effective policies immediately to help parents and children break out of the cycle of poverty, according to a new report by Ascend at the Aspen Institute. . . . The report, Top 10 for 2-Genoutlines six principles and ten specific policies to guide the design and use of two-generation approaches. The recommendations span early education, post-secondary education, economic assets and health and well-being. Informed by a growing field of innovative practitioners and policymakers, the policies work within the existing legislative and funding landscape rather than seeking new funding or legislation.

The recommendations include:

  • strengthening family and parent supports in the Head Start and Early Head Start programs;
  • increasing support for economic security outcomes in home visiting programs;
  • reforming financial aid programs to better help enrolled student parents; and
  • redesigning Temporary Assistance for Needy Families for 21st century families; and
  • leveraging provisions in the Affordable Care Act for family health and economic security.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lawmakers should act quickly to expand a preschool pilot program – one that’s not even yet underway – when they meet for their budget-writing session next year, business and nonprofit leaders said Monday.

“We simply can’t afford to let this session be one of inaction,” said Connie Bond Stuart, a regional president at PNC Bank, which has pledged $500,000 to a pre-kindergarten program in Central Indiana. Stuart told the Education Study Committee that “some will advise you to wait” until experts can study the impact of the five-county pilot, which is expected to begin early next year. But she said the business and philanthropic communities are enthusiastic about moving forward now.

“I urge you to use the upcoming budget session to continue the momentum,” Stuart said.

Indiana is one of just a handful of states that – until this year – didn’t use state money to fund pre-kindergarten programs. Even, now the state has earmarked just $10 million for programs in Allen, Jackson, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh counties. Those counties were chosen from among 19 that applied to participate.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Governor Tom Corbett today announced that more than $9.8 million has been awarded to 32 early education providers in 27 counties across the state through the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts program. In July, Corbett signed into law the state budget that increased state funding for Pre-K Counts by $10 million to $97.3 million – a 12 percent increase. Pre-K Counts provides half-day and full-day pre-kindergarten services to Pennsylvania children who are: between age three and the beginning age of kindergarten; at risk of facing challenges in school; living in families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($67,050 for a family of four); and who may be English language learners or have disabilities or developmental delays.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014
(Chicago Tribune)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration plans to use an emerging form of financing, one that links payback to lenders on the success of the initiatives being funded, to expand early childhood education programs in Chicago. The mayor's office said Tuesday that it will use close to $17 million of what are known as "social impact bonds," in addition to $4.5 million in state funds and about $10 million in capital improvement money from next year's budget, to enroll more low-income children in pre-kindergarten over the next four years.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In North Carolina public schools, formal assessments do not begin until third grade, but many students develop learning problems long before then. That’s why education leaders say they are rolling out a statewide plan to begin assessing students in the earlier years. Now, that does not mean five- and six-year-olds will have more paper and pencil tests. Instead, the responsibility will fall on teachers to track the development of their students. . .

Russolese and almost 250 kindergarten teachers are part of a state pilot program that’s encouraging them to do more of this hands-on formative assessment – to be more intentional about recording work samples, conversations and activities. The hope is that they’ll be able to gain a better understanding of how their students develop.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014
(New America EdCentral)

Last week, President Obama took the stage at Northwestern University and announced a mission to improve the workforce with universal pre-K, saying, “By the end of this decade, let’s enroll 6 million children in high-quality preschool.” The line was buried in a speech rich with rhetoric on a whole range of policy areas, but the president was light on details. (For more reporting on the speech, check out Education Week’s Lillian Mongeau.) The details, though, are actually pretty important, because providing high-quality pre-K to 6 million children by 2020 will be no light lift. . .

It’s hard to say how many children are enrolled in pre-K that would meet even most, if not all of those quality standards. According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, of the 53 state-funded pre-K programs in 40 states plus Washington, D.C., most meet only a few of those requirements. All 53 are aligned with state early learning standards; but just 30 require bachelor’s degrees for teachers, and only 36 provide onsite screening and support services.

Monday, October 6, 2014
(Wall Street Journal)

This year New York City joins the states of New Jersey and Connecticut in requiring children in licensed day-care centers and preschools to receive the influenza vaccination. Rhode Island expects to implement a similar requirement next year.

The moves follow mandates by medical facilities and a number of states to make sure health-care workers are immunized against the flu. Mandatory flu vaccines generally have exemptions for medical, religious and sometimes loosely defined “personal” reasons.

“School entry requirements have proven to be the best way to vaccinate children,” said Alexandra Stewart, an associate professor at Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, who has studied immunizations. “It’s a good way to catch people.”

Monday, October 6, 2014

Like a lot of other people in Indiana these days, the General Assembly is taking a close look at pre-k and early childhood education this session.

The legislature’s Interim Study Committee on Education met Monday, charged with studying a host of topics described in HEA 1004, the legislation that established, among other things, Indiana’s first state-funded pre-k pilot program. Many of the remarks at that meeting reiterated the need for pre-k in Indiana, as well as funding to support it – along with a few recommendations for the committee to consider.

Monday, October 6, 2014
(The Hill)

 . . .75 percent of the 17-24 year olds in this country are unable to serve in the military due to three main problems: they don’t meet the educational requirements; they have criminal records; or they are too overweight. Nearly one in four high school graduates in America who want to join the Army are unable to because their scores are too low to pass the military’s basic entry exam. And another one-fourth of our young people don’t even make it through high school in time to enlist.

Research shows that early childhood education is the best way to address this national security issue. But no matter what career path our children choose, it is clear that the learning that occurs from cradle to kindergarten will affect their ability to succeed later on.

Unfortunately, too many children today are not receiving the necessary development skills to set them up for success, either because their parents don’t have the resources, the time, the education, etc.

Monday, October 6, 2014
(Seattle Times)

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.

Monday, October 6, 2014
(Yakima Herald)

Not everyone can afford to be a preschool teacher. A college degree, in any major, significantly increases your lifetime earning potential, the study found. Some do more than others. But all do more than Calfee’s.The Hamilton Project researchers analyzed career earnings for 80 undergraduate majors from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and found that, at every career stage, college graduates as a group fare better than workers whose educations didn’t continue after high school. What’s less obvious, and perhaps more useful when picking a major: Median lifetime pay for college graduates varies greatly, depending on what they studied.