Volume 13, Issue 23

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hot Topics

One problem in communicating research to the public is that media coverage tends to present pros and cons on any issue with rough equivalence even when the vast majority of scientists agree on an issue. That is one reason it is noteworthy that more than 600 researchers and scholars have signed a consensus letter urging policymakers on all levels of government to support greater investments in high-quality early childhood education. The letter, released in conjunction with the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) and the First Five Years Fund (FFYF), includes far too many distinguished signatories to list here, among them Hiro Yoshikawa, Deborah Phillips, Jeffrey Sachs, Linda Darling-Hammond, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, T. Berry Brazelton, Marta Tienda, Jack Shonkoff, Barbara Bowman, David Kirp, Sharon Lynn Kagan, Susan B. Neuman, Lew Lipsett, Susan Landry, and James Heckman.

In brief, the letter identifies the scientific agreement on five points:

  • Quality early childhood education can reduce the achievement gap, producing more important impacts on long-term life outcomes than on test scores.
  • Many low- and moderate-income families cannot obtain high quality early education on their own, which may increase inequality in child development and life outcomes.
  • Quality programs address the needs of the whole child, stimulating language and cognitive growth while nurturing social and emotional development.  They use evidence-based curricula, coach teachers to high levels of practice, and include health and parent engagement activities.
  • Quality early education can be brought to scale; examples are available across the country.
  • Such programs can benefit children from middle-income families, as well as those in poverty, and everyone benefits from the economic returns to society.

The letter documents an overwhelming body of research in human development, psychology, education, and economics, which details how high-quality early childhood education programs for children from birth to age five yield solid economic returns. Some of our country’s costliest fiscal challenges–grade repetition, special education, high school dropout, crime, and health costs–all are found to be positively influenced by evidence-based investments in early education. 

Several states and cities voted on issues relating to early childhood education on November 4. Apparently, many voters already understand the relevant science. The New America Foundation put the results in context on their blog, including Seattle voters overwhelmingly approving a ballot initiative for $58 million in pre-K funding through an increase in property taxes. Denver voters approved increasing their sales tax (which pays for preschool) by .03 percent, and extended the tax through 2026. San Francisco voters expanded their existing Public Education Enrichment Fund, a designated portion of which funds the city’s preschool program, providing an annual $27 million for the next 24 years.

A new paper in Teachers College Record (paywall) explores how kindergarten has changed in the last decade given the impact of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The report found that kindergarteners have been taught more rigorous content since NCLB was implemented, and been judged to be more proficient by their teachers. On the other hand, children are found to spend less time on pretend play, art, and child-led exploration. Similarly, a working paper earlier this year from the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education found that kindergarten had taken on a heightened academic focus between 1998 and 2006. Time spent on literacy increased by 25 percent while time spent on social studies, music, science, art, and physical education all decreased. Despite this academic focus, many students still do not have access to full-day kindergarten. A new paper also from UVA found that randomly assigned full-day placement had a substantial positive effect compared to the impact for children in part-day programming in the same school, and students entering kindergarten with low literacy skills had particularly large gains from full-day placement. Both material covered and time actually in the classroom are crucial to ensuring children succeed in kindergarten.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

This recent blog addresses the growing public interest in providing public preschool, and how some states and cities are considering ways to provide it.


This new brief from CLASP explores the role of childcare and early education programs in connecting children to developmental screening, as well as provides state policy examples and recommendations.

A recent study using Head Start Impact Study data found that parents of 3-year-olds attending Head Start had steeper increases in their own educational attainment by the time their children were age 6 than parents in the control group. The study discusses implications for early childhood education as a ‘platform for improving both child and parent outcomes.’

An educational approach in kindergarten focused on the development of executive functions in children improved academic learning in and beyond kindergarten, helping to overcome deficits in school readiness associated with poverty, according to neuroscientists at New York University. The results suggest that executive function skills––the ability to avoid distractions, focus attention, hold relevant details in working memory, and regulate impulsive behavior––should be a key focus of early childhood education.

The Safe to Sleep campaign, led by the Eunice Kennedy Shiver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), promotes ways to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant death. The campaign’s messages are based on recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics and can be used by parents and caregivers.

NIEER Activities

NIEER Director Steve Barnett participated in a Google Hangout sponsored by the Caring Economy Campaign, a coalition of over 100 organizations led by Riane Eisler, JD. The event launched a new measure, “Social Wealth Economic Indicators” (SWEIs), which examine how countries compare on investing in care for people and building the human capital needed for economic competitiveness.

This presentation given by Alissa Lange and Kimberly Brenneman at the NAEYC 2014 Annual Conference & Expo in Dallas, Texas, discusses the value of incorporating language - both teacher and student - in early mathematics learning experiences.

CEELO Update

CEELO, in collaboration with the Great Lakes and Midwest Comprehensive Centers, sponsored a webinar, Tools to Support Principals as Evaluators of Early Childhood Teachers, on November 10, 2014 for state and local leaders in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  Participants heard from Kristy Feden, Early Childhood Supervisor, Papillion-La Vista (NE) School District and Jean R. Ubbelohde, Coordinator of Early Childhood Special Education, Millard (NE) Public Schools about tools they have developed to support principals as instructional leaders for teachers of children birth through age 5, in school and community based settings. 

Superintendent Julia Espe of the Princeton, MN school district, and Lisa Hood, Illinois State University shared additional information and resources to support principals as effective evaluators of early childhood teachers (PK-Grade 3). Materials and recording are here.  

Steven Barnett, PhD, Principal Investigator of CEELO and Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) and Milagros Nores, PhD, Associate Director of Research at NIEER, presented data that looks at how children from various language and immigrant backgrounds participate in pre-K programs and at how these children perform relative to their White peers at Kindergarten entry. Webinar materials are 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"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 10:00am

This event hosted by New America will be a discussion on how our nation supports and rewards early childhood teachers and feature the findings of Marcy Whitebook, Deborah Phillips, and Carollee Howes's “Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Early Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study.”  

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 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. 

Friday, November 21, 2014 -
8:30am to 10:30am

The NYU Steinhardt Education Policy Breakfast Serie will look at key issues in early childhood education: accessibility, quality, and affordability.  The fist episode, Early Childhood Education and Closing the Achievement Gap, begins the series with a broad look at the role early childhood education plays in improving student success.

Guest speakers:

  • Ajay Chaudry, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy, US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Steven Dow, Executive Director, CAP Tulsa

Moderator: Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Courtney Sale Ross University Professor of Globalization and Education, NYU Steinhardt

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. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015 - 8:00am to Sunday, March 15, 2015 - 12:30pm

The American Montessori Society will be having their annual conference in Philadephia. Find more information here

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, November 13, 2014
(WABE Atlanta (NPR))

U.S. lawmakers are pretty polarized these days, but they seem to agree investing in early education pays off. Studies show kids who go to school early have a better chance of graduating from high school and are less likely to commit crimes. So hundreds of education researchers wrote an open letter to policymakers urging them to prioritize early education.

Steve Barnett signed the letter. He’s the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.  He’s optimistic Congress will increase access to classroom instruction for children under the age of five.

“I’m hopeful because the public is highly supportive, because it isn’t a partisan issue, and because there is substantial consensus in the scientific community about the importance of good early childhood programs,” he says.

Thursday, November 13, 2014
(Nebraska's PBS & NPR Stations)

Like many states, Nebraska has greatly expanded early childhood education in recent years. The idea is to make sure kids are ready for kindergarten. But there are different perspectives on the benefits – and costs -- of the expansion. . .
This program in Auburn is one of 20 starting up across Nebraska this year, after the Legislature approved spending another $3.5 million targeted at kids the Nebraska Department of Education considers “at risk.”  That includes children born with low birth-weight or who have disabilities, such as speech problems. It also includes those from low-income families or born to teenage mothers. The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University estimates just over one quarter of Nebraska four-year-olds are in an early childhood education program. Expanding that to cover all four-year-olds in the state could cost well over an additional $100 million a year.

Thursday, November 13, 2014
(Lakeshore Public Media)

Low-income families in five pilot counties could begin enrolling their children in state-funded preschool next month with classes starting in January, state officials said Wednesday. In addition, organizations that want to provide preschool in those counties – Allen, Jackson, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh – can now apply to be part of the state’s newly named On My Way Pre-K program. The counties were chosen earlier this year to be the first to try state-funded preschool. The program will award grants to 4-year-olds from low-income families, who can then use the money to attend the approved preschool of the parents’ choice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Canada's support system for early childhood lags far behind other countries and action is urgently needed, said the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canadain a new position statement issued today. To address this crisis, the Royal College and its partners have issued 15 recommendations to improve the health and wellness of Canada'schildren, including calls for increased government funding and enhanced support for parents.

"Early childhood is the most important development phase and our current approach is inadequate," says Dr. Andrew Padmos, Royal College CEO. "Canadacan, and should, be a world leader in supporting its children."

Currently, Canada's system of childhood care and education lags behind other developed countries – tied for last out of 25 states according to key OECD indicators. Currently, Canada also spends below the OECD standard 1% of GDP on early childhood care and learning — with the majority of this spending occurring inQuebec.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

If President Obama has his way, over 6 million children will be enrolled in high quality pre-school programs by the end of 2020. In order to reach that goal, we would have to triple the number in just six years. Is that even possible? Should that be a national goal? What’s wrong with private pre-school or home care situations?

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, there are currently only 2.1 million 3 and 4 year olds enrolled in state-funded or Head Start programs (comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition and family involvement programs for low income families operated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services). The 2010 U.S. Census indicates that there are approximately 8 million 3 and 4 year olds living in the U.S., which means that the other 6 million kids are either in private, day-care facilities or cared for in the home. Among industrialized nations, the United States ranks last when it comes to supporting and funding early childhood programs and among low income families it is even worse, one study finding that less than 50 percent of low-income children are enrolled in a preschool program.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
(Montana Standard)

When it comes to prioritizing the investment of our state’s resources, 4- year-olds might seem like an odd place to start to some folks. But there is no question that providing our children with an early opportunity to thrive benefits both children and our communities. Support for pre-kindergarten education has proven to be one of the best investments a state can make, with both immediate and long-term benefits for children, families, businesses and the state’s economy. As other states across the country have already found, every dollar spent on pre-K results in a $7 return. Montana does not have to wait to realize these benefits to our economy. State funding for pre-K will strengthen Montana’s economy immediately in two ways – by helping working families and by creating good-paying jobs in childcare and early education.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
(The CT Mirror)

Connecticut leaders are asking the federal government for $47.6 million so hundreds of foster and homeless children can attend a high-quality preschool. Though children from all families in poverty will be eligible for the expanded preschool program, the state says it will give priority to children who are homeless or in foster care. “Particular focus will be on ensuring that these children have access to high-quality preschool,” the application states.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
(Deseret News)

Barnett argues that a low-income pre-K program would never be taken seriously by the education establishment or by legislators. It would be chronically underfunded, he said, and would likely suffer from sub-par teacher qualifications and curriculum standards.

“There is good research that shows the public will not support in either quality and quantity a program that is just for poor people,” Barnett said. . . . Barnett also says logistics would hamper means-tested preschool, in part because income levels at the margins are constantly sliding up and down and defining eligibility would be problematic.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Local education advocates are pushing for the re-authorization of a bill that they say will improve early child care opportunities for working families across Pennsylvania.

Senator Bob Casey visited the Hansel and Gretel Early Learning Center in Harrisburg on Wednesday to talk about the Child Care and Development Block Grant. The program currently helps 55,000 families in PA pay for child care each month. If it fails to pass by the end of the year, all the work already in motion helping those families will be lost and the push for the bill will have to start over.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
(Medical Daily)

Science is beginning to show more than ever that a child’s performance in school is largely dependent by how much they know prior to beginning kindergarten. According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute, children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds score 60 percent lower in cognitive tests than kids with richer parents. When it comes to math scores, poor black kids score an average of 21 percent lower than whites, while Hispanics score 19 percent lower. Pre-K and kindergarten classes are meant to balance these disparities, but curriculums and resources often vary between poorer and richer schools.

A new curriculum from Tools of the Mind, a research-based education program, could bring these gaps to the same level, according to a recent study, by teaching kids “self-regulation.” Instead of rewarding kids for only following teachers’ instructions, this approach also encourages kids to work together on projects (no matter their economic background), encourage each other’s learning, and provide constructive feedback.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014
(Lancaster Online)

On this Veterans Day, we honor the fewer than 1 percent of Americans who are ready, willing and able to serve our nation in the Armed Forces. This figure may be surprising to some, but it is better understood when you consider that 72 percent of today's young Pennsylvanians are not eligible for military service because they lack adequate education, are medically or physically unfit, or have disqualifying criminal records.

This shocking reality is concerning because it undermines the military's efforts to recruit high-quality individuals. We must strategically invest to help young Americans grow up to be educated, healthy and fit to do the work of our nation either as soldiers or civilians. While trends in education reform come and go, decades of research have shown that high-quality pre-K programs can help to better prepare our children by boosting graduation rates, deterring youth from crime, and even reducing obesity rates, all while providing a significant return on investment.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Recently, The PNC Financial Services Group hosted the Guinness World Records attempt for largest vocabulary lesson as part of Grow Up Great, our early childhood education program. More than 4,000 pre- kindergarten children in 37 cities across 15 states and the District of Columbia participated. Locally, students from the Millcreek Children’s Center in Youngstown took part in the lesson created by our education partners. The event raised awareness of the critical role of vocabulary in a child’s development.

One of the earliest indicators of a child’s future success is the number of words he or she hears prior to kindergarten. Language development begins with the interplay of words between the parent and child and helps nurture vocabulary, which is considered the building block of education. The frequency and richness of natural conversation in a child’s first years plays a key role in development.

Monday, November 10, 2014
(New York Times)

The Obama administration is directing states to show how they will ensure that all students have equal access to high-quality teachers, with a sharp focus on schools with a high proportion of the poor and racial minorities.

In a letter to state superintendents released Monday, Deborah S. Delisle, an assistant secretary at the Department of Education, said states must develop plans by next June that make sure that public schools comply with existing federal law requiring that “poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified or out-of-field teachers.”

States last submitted plans to address such inequities in 2006, but data shows that large disparities persist.

Monday, November 10, 2014
(Montana Associated Technology Roundtables)

The state's Board of Public Education will hold a hearing this week on adopting preschool standards.

Governor Steve Bullock's Early Edge proposal http://earlyedge.mt.gov/would make available, voluntary and high-quality early childhood education to every Montana four-year-old.

Monday, November 10, 2014
(Valdosta Daily Times)

Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) has commissioned the University of Georgia and Georgia State University to study the impact of the child care industry on the economy of Georgia. The most recent such study, conducted in 2007, showed that child care programs in Georgia created over $4.1 billion in revenues annually, while creating over 61,000 jobs.

“It has been seven years since our last economic impact study, and we know conditions have changed since then,” said Interim Commissioner Amy Jacobs.  “The previous study revealed the significant impact the child care industry has on Georgia’s economy. Now it is time to gather current data and to gauge the impact of the Great Recession on the industry. As Governor Deal continues to emphasize job creation in our state, it is important to understand the economic impact of the child care industry in Georgia and to recognize that it is a viable economic engine across the state.”

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Indianapolis City-County Council was scheduled to introduce a five-year pre-K pilot program Monday night. After months of discussion, council Republicans and Democrats have struck a deal to fund a preschool program for low-income families.

Rachel Harrison has already started thinking about her 15-month-old daughter Sophia’s education, but she didn’t know preschool would be an option until now. "It'll open up the doors for a lot of kids and definitely my kid because I believe that they should be in school," Harrison said

A bipartisan group of councillors was introducing a plan to help the area’s neediest families. A family of four with an annual income of about $30,000 or less would be eligible to send their 3-year-old or 4-year-old child to preschool.

Monday, November 10, 2014
(Ravalli Republic)

Positive early experiences forge the foundations for lifelong learning and behavior. And, to optimize the development of each child, a rich nurturing environment is required (Diamond & Hopson, 1998; Fischer & Rose, 1998). Study after study validates the “need for” and the “benefits of” Early Childhood Education.

Evaluations of quality pre-kindergarten (pre-k) programs have found that children exposed to high-quality early education were less likely to drop out of school, repeat grades, or need special education, compared with similar children who did not have such exposure. (www.nieer.org)

Monday, November 10, 2014
(Star Advertiser)

Even though Hawaii voters rejected allowing public money to be spent on private preschool programs, supporters of the ballot measure say they're glad the campaign raised public awareness of early childhood education. "More people are talking about early education than ever before," said Deborah Zysman, executive director of the Good Beginnings Alliance, which pushed for a yes vote on the question posed in Tuesday's general election.

Supporters contend a public-private partnership is a cost-effective way to help children in a state where nearly half enter kindergarten without any preschool. The Hawaii State Teachers Association objected, saying it would lead to vouchers to attend expensive private preschools. Now both sides say they want to see how the other devotes resources toward finding a way to achieve public preschool without relying on a network of private providers.

Monday, November 10, 2014
(The Advocate)

While Louisiana is launching an ambitious overhaul of its pre-K system, how to pay for it is a recurring problem. The issue flared last week during a lengthy meeting of a 30-member advisory panel that is making recommendations to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Alan Young, former president of the Child Care Association of Louisiana and a panel member, charged that some of the new rules for pre-K centers are so costly and rigorous that they could be forced to close. Another worry is that charges generally assessed to parents could rise so sharply that they would pull their children out of the centers. State aid is badly needed, Young said, but no easy options are available.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The state's Board of Public Education will hold a hearing this week on adopting preschool standards. Governor Steve Bullock's Early Edge proposal would make available, voluntary, high-quality early childhood education to every Montana four-year-old. On the Governor's website, he states that he will request a $37-million dollar biennial appropriation from the legislature. That money would go to the school districts in non-competitive grants.

Saturday, November 8, 2014
(The Advertiser)

Imagine 100 children performing better than their peers and above the national average in every area of school readiness. Now imagine that most of those children are living in low-income, at-risk households. This success is really happening at United Way of Acadiana’s Early Head Start.

How can we provide more at-risk children access to this same opportunity? The answer is clear — to invest the scarce resources we do have in the area of education that yields the largest return on investment: early childhood education that provides universal pre-K for at-risk 4-year-olds.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A $600,000 grant awarded to the University of Texas Health Science Center will help expand health services to potentially thousands of children from birth to age 3 and increase the kinds of screenings available to those participating in an Early Head Start program, officials have announced.

Friday, November 7, 2014
(89.3 KPCC)

When San Francisco voters overwhelmingly reauthorized the city's universal preschool program on Tuesday, ensuring an annual $27 million for the next 24 years, other California cities may well have sat up. The Obama administration's call for universal preschool has cities nationwide thinking about how to implement such programs. New York's mayor swept in a pilot project this year that offers preschool to four-year-olds and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia wants to do the same. But a model for funding and implementing a global program for preschool may be just up the I-5. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Gov. Steve Bullock seeks federal funds to better educate Montana 4-year-olds, and here’s why. Positive early experiences forge the foundations for lifelong learning and behavior. And, to optimize the development of each child, a rich, nurturing environment is required (Diamond & Hopson, 1998; Fischer & Rose, 1998). Study after study validates the “need for” and the “benefits of” early childhood education.

Evaluations of quality pre-kindergarten programs have found that children exposed to high-quality early education were less likely to drop out of school, repeat grades or need special education, compared with similar children who did not have such exposure. (www.nieer.org)

Thursday, November 6, 2014
(The Huffington Post [Op-Ed])

Over the last 20 years or so neuroscientific research has demonstrated the importance of the early years of life to human development. More recently, University of Chicago economist James Heckman has persuasively argued that intervention in the lives of our youngest children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, is one of the wisest investments we can make to ensure America's future prosperity. The Obama White House has proposed that high-quality pre-school be extended to every child in America and has been convening meetings around the country with a broad group of stakeholders dedicated to his early learning agenda. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says government funded universal preschool is a “social movement” and compared it to civil rights and gay marriage during a speech in Los Angeles last month. “At the end of the day for me this is really a social movement,” Duncan said when discussing federally subsidized preschool at the LA Universal Preschool (LAUP) forum on Oct. 21.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
(All Africa)

Provost, Michael Otedola College of Primary Education (MOCPED), Noforija, Epe, Professor Olu Akeusola has called on the Federal Government to show more interest and commitments to the smooth operation of early childhood education for all children in the country. According to him, "Looking at ways advanced countries or even growing economies in the world practice early childhood education, it is found out that the Federal Government of Nigeria has shown total neglect in terms of applying their own policy and strategies for the Nigerian child at that level of education,"

He also said most pre-schools annexed to the already existing primary schools are not manned by qualified hands, lack the experience and know-how for capacity building in the classroom, stressing that Nigerian experience in early childhood development is synonymous to total neglect, corruption and ill funded public pre-school. He lamented on the illegal operation of many sub-standard private pre-schools in form of kindergarten, and nursery institutions scattered all over urban, suburban areas and some rural areas in the country.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
(The Washington Post)

There is a place where progressives rule, where voters want government to increase support for the poor, where the idea of taxing the rich to do that doesn't come off like class warfare. It's Seattle.

And last night residents there voted to tax themselves to fund a $58 million pilot program providing city-subsidized high-quality childcare to low-income families. What's more, the measure won with 67 percent of the vote. And the main dispute wasn't over whether or not to invest in universal preschool — but which proposal to choose.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

On a typical day in the preschool department at Church Street United Methodist, you can find children learning colors, numbers and days of the week. Director Beth Cooper-Libby says that level of care and education is expected today. "The days of the nursery worker on the couch with children in front of a TV set are way gone." Cooper-Libby says more and more parents want to make sure their child is ready to head to kindergarten, an endeavor that starts years before the first day of school. . .

The latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show about 71 percent of all mothers are working, which means there's a lot of mothers out there looking for quality childcare. The high demand and limited space leads to long wait lists; Church Street United Methodist only takes 38 children at a time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
(Bennington Banner)

The access and quality gap in Vermont's Child Care System

Most people agree that "choice" is a good thing. But when it comes to choosing a child care provider, many Vermont parents may not feel like they have much choice available to them. And that's something we need to change.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A plan to provide early education to kids in Marion County is getting new life. City County leaders say changes were made from the original proposal Mayor Greg Ballard talked about four months ago.  They say the new bi-partisan plan focuses on families who need help the most and expands access to 3-year-olds.

“There are kids who don’t get to go to pre-school, and they come to kindergarten 2 or 3 years behind, and it’s very hard to catch up,” Republican City County Council Member Jeff Miller said. Miller says that’s why he’s passionate about helping all families afford high-quality pre-school programs.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
(Chicago Sun-Times)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to use $17 million from private investors to provide half-day early childhood education for 2,618 students sailed through the City Council Wednesday, despite concern about the “very high rate of return” for investors. The Chicago Teachers Union and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Illinois and its City Council allies have likened the arrangement to the much-vilified parking meter deal. That’s because the so-called “social impact bonds” will actually come in the form of a $17 million loan from the Goldman Sachs Social Impact Fund and Northern Trust as senior lenders. Subordinate lenders are the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation. The annual interest rate of 6.3 percent will allow lenders to more than double their $17 million investment over an 18-year period. But, they will be repaid only if students realize "positive academic results."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
(South Bend Tribune)

In the weeks since Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s perplexing decision not to pursue federal funding  for preschool for low-income children, a few things have been clarified. Chiefly, it’s clearer how bad this decision was for the state’s low-income children. Projections from state agencies indicate that the $80 million in federal money over four years would have tripled the number of children in the state’s pre-kindergarten pilot program. Locally, those involved in early education count the costs of Pence’s decision in the hundreds of 4-year-olds preapproved for Head Start who won’t be able to enroll this year because the slots are taken, the classrooms full.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
(Education Week)

As the Obama administration effectively enters its twilight years in the wake of the midterm elections this week, some prominent U.S. Department of Education officials who were originally in charge of its splashy initiatives—including the stimulus-born Race to the Top program, the No Child Left Behind Act waivers, and the multibillion-dollar School Improvement Grant expansion—have left the building. Such churn is typical when a presidential administration is nearly three-quarters over. But losing big names that helped birth major programs—and bringing in new people to replace them—can have an impact on both policy direction and implementation as the department works to ensure its ideas remain rooted at the state and local levels.

"It feels like there is a greater weight and more demands on this team than your typical end of the administration," said Andy Smarick, who served as a deputy assistant secretary in the Education Department toward the end of President George W. Bush's tenure. "They need to make sure they land this plane."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014
(The Seattle Times)

A Seattle ballot measure raising property taxes to pay for city-subsidized preschool spanked an alternative proposal Tuesday night. Seattle Proposition No. 1B surged ahead with 67 percent approval in the first-day vote count.Backed by the city’s elected officials, 1B will authorize a $58 million property-tax levy to fund a four-year pilot program of preschool subsidized on a sliding scale, while setting academic standards and raising preschool teacher pay.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In the view of business executives, educators and a bipartisan group of political leaders, that future for 3- and 4-year-olds should include universal access to high-quality early childhood education programs. "Statistics show that the earlier you can introduce children to structured learning, the more successful they'll be later in life," said Vickie Lampe, PNC Bank's director of client and community relations for northwestern Pennsylvania. "Vocabulary is central to a child's development," added Eva Tansky Blum, president of the PNC Foundation.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

As New York City officials signed up private preschool providers for this fall’s pre-kindergarten expansion, they negotiated reimbursement rates with each program individually. They were tough negotiators who left many private pre-k providers operating beyond their means, without a plan for how to make ends meet.

Programs in vastly different circumstances and neighborhoods are mostly getting a similar rate—around $10,000 per child. School directors told WNYC this rate translates into very different capacity, as some have plenty to spend on extra perks and others are barely scraping by.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014
(Record Searchlight)

Education is supposed to help bridge the gap between the wealthiest people and everyone else. Ask the experts, and they'll count the ways: Preschool can lift children from poverty. Top high schools prepare students for college. A college degree boosts pay over a lifetime. And the U.S. economy would grow faster if more people stayed in school longer.
Plenty of data back them up. But the data also show something else: Wealthier parents have been stepping up education spending so aggressively that they're widening the nation's wealth gap. When the Great Recession struck in late 2007 and squeezed most family budgets, the top 10 percent of earners — with incomes averaging $253,146 — went in a different direction: They doubled down on their kids' futures. . .

Wealthier parents can also afford high-quality day care, which better prepares children for kindergarten, said Steven Barnett, director at the National Institute for Early Education Research.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014
(Star Advertiser)

Hawaii voters rejected the idea of using public funds for private preschool programs, defeating a proposed amendment that pitted early learning advo-cates against the public teachers union. The amendment had proposed lifting the prohibition on public funds being used to support or benefit private educational institutions. It would have given the state the ability to use a combination of preschool classrooms at public schools and state-funded slots in private preschools to eventually serve all of the state's 17,200 4-year-olds with a publicly funded preschool education.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

With kindergarten requiring children to be ready for academics sooner than in years past, parents feel increased pressure to find “the right” preschool program that will promote future academic success, preschool admission directors say. Gone are the days when preschool was seen as optional, with some kids starting kindergarten as their first experience in a classroom setting. “Most parents are looking for the school to inspire a passion for learning,” Pan said. This zealous preschool climate is not unique to San Francisco. “It varies city by city,” said Molly Tafoya, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit Early Edge California, a preschool advocacy group. “Anecdotally we hear it’s a difficult process. Private preschool enrollment can be like college enrollment.”

In Orange County, a densely populated area with a high cost of living, the preschool application process can be overwhelming for parents, said Amy Fotheringham, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Private Schools Association, which is hosting a January preschool-t0-12th-grade fair for parents to learn about different options.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

As New York City officials signed up private preschool providers for this fall’s pre-kindergarten expansion, they negotiated reimbursement rates with each program individually. They were tough negotiators who left many private pre-k providers operating beyond their means, without a plan for how to make ends meet.

Programs in vastly different circumstances and neighborhoods are mostly getting a similar rate—around $10,000 per child. School directors told WNYC this rate translates into very different capacity, as some have plenty to spend on extra perks and others are barely scraping by.

Monday, November 3, 2014

In homes with both a mother and a father, moms did most of the talking to the infants, pediatrician Betty Vohr of Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, R.I., and colleagues report November 3 in Pediatrics. Recorders strapped into a little vest captured all speech for at least a 10-hour stretch when babies were just born, at around 1 month of age, and again around 7 months. (About half of the 33 babies were born a little early, so the researchers used the date of conception to “correct” their age.)

Overall, the team found that mothers talked to their babies about three times as much as fathers did, even though the recordings were done when both parents were around.

Monday, November 3, 2014
(Chicago Tribune)

A proposed expansion of a CPS preschool program drew praise from aldermen Monday for its aims but also was criticized because the city could end up paying investors in the program roughly double its $17 million cost. Chief Financial Officer Lois Scott told aldermen at a City Council Finance Committee meeting that borrowing through so-called social impact bonds, which link payback to lenders on the success of the initiatives being funded, could provide a rate of return of about 6.3 percent to investors. That translates to $34.5 million in repayments over the next 18 years, she said. "We should be able to find the money, reprioritize what we already have and put it into this program without having to pay such a high rate of return and basically double the investment money," said Ald. Scott Waguespack, 32nd, one of four alderman at Monday's meeting who voted against the proposal.

Sunday, November 2, 2014
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

I was disappointed that neither candidate addressed one of the most important issues facing our commonwealth: access to high-quality pre-kindergarten education. The reality is that when kids don’t have access to high-quality pre-K, many ultimately face a life of constantly being left behind. This is a critical issue for our commonwealth and our next governor.

Sunday, November 2, 2014
(South Bend Tribune)

The waiting list of 4-year-olds preapproved for Head Start in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties now stands at 750. The chances of many of those children being able to enroll this school year are slim. There is a set number of slots. And classrooms are filled. 

“It’s so disheartening when you know a family wants their child to go to pre-k and we just don’t have capacity,” Kathy Guajardo, director of Head Start’s Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties Consortium, said. The need for an expansion of preschool offerings for low-income children here, Guajardo said, is enormous.

Saturday, November 1, 2014
(The Seattle Times)

The early learning measures on Seattle’s Nov. 4 ballot are two opposing propositions that ask voters two questions, leaving plenty of room for confusion.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hawaii is the only state with a constitution that bars public money from going to private preschool programs, but voters on Nov. 4 will get a chance to change that distinction.

Until a handful of preschool classrooms opened up at some public schools this year, Hawaii was one of 10 states without publicly funded preschool. In an effort to expand the number of children who have access to preschool, voters are being asked to amend the state constitution. Supporters say it will help children in a state where 42 percent start kindergarten without any early learning opportunities.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A few years ago, those overseeing the local Head Start program urged teachers to get a bachelor’s degree with the goal of upgrading the program.

Now, Stark County Community Action Agency officials find themselves facing staffing challenges. Consequently, they are looking at temporarily setting aside the requirement that all teachers obtain bachelor’s degrees. “We are currently short four teachers,” Reasonover said. “We have kids to fill four classrooms. We just don’t have teachers. I have a challenge finding qualified teachers.”