Volume 13, Issue 5

Friday, March 7, 2014

Hot Topics

President Obama released his budget request for Fiscal Year 2015 this week, calling for a $68.6 billion increase in education spending generally. Early education received particular attention in the budget requests for both the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. The President’s budget proposes $500 million—double last year's funding—for Preschool Development Grants plus another $250 million through the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, for a total investment of $750 million.  These grants will be available to states, local education agencies, and local governments and can be used to build the foundations of a high-quality preschool education system or to expand systems that are already well developed. Details are available from the Office of Early Learning. The budget also reintroduces the Preschool for All initiative, with an initial $1.3 billion investment; the 10-year plan, introduced in last year’s budget request, would be funded by an increase in the federal tobacco tax.

The HHS budget includes a slight increase of $120 million for Head Start and notes that Head Start grantee recompetition will continue in FY 2015. It also calls for increasing funding for  Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships from $500 to $650 million (plus another $800 million in the Opportunity Fund), which would provide access to high-quality infant and toddler care. Other investments in early childhood include an additional $200 million in discretionary funds, which would be available for improving child care quality, as well as a 10 year, $15 billion, mandatory investment in home-visiting programs.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services will hold a briefing on early learning investments in the President's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request on Wednesday, March 12, starting at 2:00 PM ET. The event will be livestreamed here.

Director Steve Barnett’s article on where critics are getting the facts wrong on preschool ran in the Washington Post February 28th, and is available on the Preschool Matters . . Today! blog now. 

For the past two weeks we’ve been covering play in preschool on NIEER’s Preschool Matters Today! blog. Reflections on Play in Preschool includes articles from experts including

Members of the National Governors Association Education and Workforce Committee discussed early childhood education in a session at the National Governors Association 2014 Winter Meeting, held February 21-24 in Washington, DC. Governor Steven Beshear (D-KY) chaired the session, Education Secretary Arne Duncan discussed how the federal government and states can work together to expand early childhood education, and state education officials reviewed factors in the success of early education programs in Alabama and Maryland. Investment in early childhood education continues to be an important topic in state legislatures, as Idaho debates a bill to start a pilot preschool program and California considers expanding transitional kindergarten to all 4-year-olds.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

See Hot Topics (above) for a summary and links to our most recent blog posts.


Penn’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy, with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has developed a web-based toolkit to help donors identify investments that will truly make a difference in early childhood. The toolkit provides:

  • Strategies for investing in early childhood, including profiles of effective programs;
  • Facts, background, and resources for those who want to learn more about early childhood development,

Key stakeholders and organizations that a donor interested in early childhood should know.

The National Conference of State Legislatures’ Early Care and Education database tracks and updates early care and education legislation from the 2008-2014 legislative sessions for 50 states and the territories. Legislation can be searched by state, topic, status, primary sponsor, bill number or keyword.

A new brief from the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation examines the status of full-day kindergarten across the country and provides recommendations to create state policies to promote kindergarten.

The FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill has released phase two of its study of the effectiveness of Georgia’s Pre-K Program, commissioned by the state. Reports and summaries from the first two years of the study are now available.

CEELO Update

CEELO has posted a new Formative Assessment web page with resources related to formative assessment and registration links for upcoming Peer Learning Community calls.

Inclusion of Pre-Kindergarten and Other Early Childhood Staff in State Teacher Evaluation Systems provides a snapshot of the number of states that include pre-kindergarten teachers in state teacher evaluation systems. It also provides information related to infant/toddler and other early childhood staff. 

Evidence of Effective Approaches to Early Numeracy Models reviews key research on effective approaches to early math education and provides available resources that can be used to support districts’ use of evidence-based models and approaches.


Friday, March 14, 2014 - 8:00am to Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 5:00pm

T&L 2014 is where the profession meets to secure the future of PreK-12 education. From the Common Core State Standards to education technology to advancing issues of equity in the classroom, educators from all types of classroom settings will have unique opportunities to share their stories, gain new tools, learn from the nation’s top innovators and get inspired to achieve greatness in their classrooms and communities.

Monday, April 28, 2014 - 8:00am to Friday, May 2, 2014 - 5:00pm

NHSA’s Annual Head Start Conference and Expo is the largest national event devoted to the Head Start and Early Head Start community. The 41st Annual Conference’s theme is Driven to Make a Difference.

Monday, May 5, 2014 - 8:00am to Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 5:00pm

The National Smart Start Conference is the nation’s largest conference devoted to early education systems and strategies. The conference provides advanced professional development for early education leaders committed to improving the quality of and access to early childhood services for all children ages birth to five.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - 8:00am to Thursday, May 22, 2014 - 5:00pm

The Inclusion Institute is the premier event for people from all early childhood sectors to come together to learn, share, and problem-solve about inclusion for young children.

Monday, July 7, 2014 - 8:00am to Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - 5:00pm

The conference title for 2014 is Collaboration and Coordination: Understanding Systems Supporting Young Children and Their Families....HSRC12 will highlight research focusing on service integration, coordination and alignment, while continuing to showcase evidence-based best practices and new research surrounding child care, Head Start, home visiting, and other early childhood programs and approaches.

Early Education News Roundup

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
(Los Angeles Times)

“We’ve seen a pattern of increasing state funding for early childhood learning, even when we saw flat or declining K-12 spending,” said Mike Griffith, a school finance consultant with the Education Commission of the States, a nonpartisan group that tracks policy trends. “It’s one of those programs that the general public gets, and the general public tends to have a positive view about.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
(The Times-Picayune)

Expanding preschool access, reducing the “stigma” against career education, and raising standards through Common Core are three issues State Superintendent John White highlighted Wednesday at a Baton Rouge Rotary Club meeting, discussing how to continue to “modernize” Louisiana’s education system.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A group of local philanthropic organizations has announced a $4.5 million fund to go toward Head Start early childhood education programs in Detroit.

The group, which calls itself the Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, includes the Kresge Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, the McGregor Fund, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, The Jewish Fund and the PNC Foundation.

The group’s Detroit Head Start Early Childhood Fund will award competitive grants to Head Start sites. The fund was formed in response to a federal competition for $48 million in Head Start funding in Detroit.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
(Magicvalley.com (ID))

An Idaho Democratic lawmaker is pushing to implement a preschool pilot program in five Idaho schools. The bill won support of the House Education Committee on Monday after being introduced by Rep. Hy Kloc of Boise.

“I’ll be the first to say preschool is not a silver bullet, but it is a start,” Kloc said. “It’s similar to building a house. You have to make sure the foundation is secure and sturdy.” Idaho is one of 11 states without a state-funded preschool program. The state also doesn’t require children to go to preschool or kindergarten.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
(The Washington Post)

Obama is again seeking funding for his “Preschool for All” plan to expand early childhood education to most low and middle-income four-year-olds across the country – a 10-year, $76 billion program that would be funded with an increase in the federal tobacco tax. While there is bipartisan support for increasing access to high quality preschool, especially among governors, there has been little appetite on Capitol Hill to fund the plan, especially when it relies on a tax increase.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama pushed for at least $750 million in targeted funds in his $3.9 trillion 2015 budget to lay the foundation for universal preschool programs. Obama spoke at a D.C. elementary school that participates in a pre-kindergarten program.

"Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education," Obama wrote in his introductory budget message about his desire to expand preschool to all four-year olds. "I am again calling on the Congress to make high-quality preschool available to every four-year-old child."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Three-fourths of Iowans want to make free preschool accessible to every 4-year-old.

The state has offered preschool classes since 2007, but inadequate funding has created waiting lists and prevented some 4-year-olds from participating. A Senate proposal would ratchet up funding by several million dollars to expand school capacity and eliminate the waiting lists statewide.

Monday, March 3, 2014
(San Jose Mercury News (CA))

Making high-quality preschools like this one available to all California 4-year-olds will be one of the most hotly debated issues in Sacramento this spring as lawmakers wrangle over Gov. Jerry Brown's budget blueprint. . . . "Making this kind of investment would begin to restore California's reputation as the golden state for education," said W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. He said California would "send a signal" to other states and Congress about the importance of early childhood education if it joins Georgia, Oklahoma and West Virginia in offering rigorous classes to all 4-year-olds.

Sunday, March 2, 2014
(Press-Telegram (CA))

The path toward universal preschool for the city’s children could be started Tuesday.

A proposal by Vice Mayor Robert Garcia and Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal asks city staff to examine providing free preschool for residents and return within 120 days with a way to provide the service without a major budget impact.

Friday, February 28, 2014
(Washington Post)

Whitehurst claims that “Not one of the studies that has suggested long-term positive impacts of center-based early childhood programs has been based on a well-implemented and appropriately analyzed randomized trial.”   This claim is false based even on the studies he does cite.  His own statements in the blog regarding the Perry Preschool study and its re-analyses by Jim Heckman contradict this claim, as do older analyses demonstrating that minor departures from random assignment in the Perry study had no substantive effects on the results.

Friday, February 28, 2014
(Stateline (Pew Center on the States))

Nationwide, enrollment in publicly funded preschool has exploded over the past decade. From the 2001-2002 school year to 2011-2012, the percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled in state-funded preschool increased from 14 percent to 28 percent, according to The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, although enrollment stalled in 2011-2012.

While state spending on preschool has also increased, from $3.47 billion to $5.12 billion over the same decade, the dollars have not kept pace with enrollment, according to NIEER, causing per-child spending to drop by more than 23 percent, adjusting for inflation.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Last year, the president’s budget prioritized preschool and school security, for example — and both issues eventually fared well in the omnibus spending bill passed in January. In fact, preschool did exceptionally well. Advocates were thrilled when the bill added tens of thousands of seats to the Head Start program and set aside cash for a competitive grant program around early childhood.

“When you get down to that level, the president’s budget is important,” Packer said. “At the end of the day, the president has to sign that bill and has some leverage.”

Thursday, February 27, 2014
(Washington Post)

At Jubilee, and in pre-K programs across the city, the focus is on the whole child. We understand that “high-quality” instruction is driven by both appropriate training in child development and literacy and support to enable them, and an emphasis on developing nurturing, trusting relationships.

Thursday, February 27, 2014
(WinonaDailyNews.com (MN))

To give every child an even start has been the goal of the early-childhood education initiatives promoted by Gov. Mark Dayton, with the support of the Minnesota Legislature, Cassellius said. The 2013 session featured increased funding for early-childhood initiatives, as well as money for districts statewide to provide all-day kindergarten.

The earlier a child can be enrolled in an effective program, the better, Cassellius said.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gov. Mike Pence spent Wednesday morning highlighting the work of an Indianapolis preschool as he made a final pitch for an early education voucher plan that has foundered in the Legislature.

In a classroom of 4-year-olds at the Shepherd Community Center, Pence stressed the need for a pilot program that would use state money to help children attend preschool.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
(The Seattle Times)

For years, parents have been told that preschool provides kids with a crucial jump-start on kindergarten, but unless a family’s income is low enough to qualify for government help, they must pay for it themselves.

Now, amid growing national momentum for government-paid preschool for all, Burgess is proposing an ambitious plan to make high-quality preschool free for Seattle families earning up to twice the federal poverty level, or about $47,000 for a family of four. Others would pay on a sliding scale, giving parents a break on an annual expense that can cost as much as college tuition.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
(Healio: Endocrine Today)

“We continue to see signs that, for some children in this country, the scales are tipping. This report comes on the heels of previous CDC data that found a significant decline in obesity prevalence among low-income children aged 2 to 4 years participating in federal nutrition programs,” CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a press release. “We’ve also seen signs from communities around the country with obesity prevention programs, including Anchorage, Alaska; Philadelphia; New York City; and King County, Washington. This confirms that at least for kids, we can turn the tide and begin to reverse the obesity epidemic.” 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
(Cincinnati Business Journal)

Cincinnati's business and corporate community should get behind a universal preschool effort because it will lead to improved schools, more jobs and a better prepared workforce. That's the pitch Strive Partnership Executive Director Greg Landsman, whose group works to improve student achievement, is making as he builds support for the eventual tax increase probably needed to make it happen.

"One, more and more kids are going to show up to school prepared and they're going to be successful. Two, parents are going to be able to get back into the workforce. Three, If you make the subsidies strong enough, more and more families – talent – will stay here and move here," Landsman said. "It is a talent attraction and retention strategy."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

But early childhood supporters said Arkansas can't come from behind in salaries if they don't invest in Pre-Kindergarten programs. Funding for early childhood programs increased for sometime but have remained stagnant since 2007. Supporters said this impacts the workforce later on.

"If children don't have the opportunity for positive interacting during the first five years, they could start kindergarten three years behind their friends," said Genia Dickey of Invest Early.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
(Think Progress)

Spending on childcare assistance last year fell to the lowest level since 2002, according to a report from the policy organization CLASP. The primary source of funding for subsidies that help low-income parents afford childcare is the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), and spending on that grant was at a decade low. States can also contribute to subsidies with matching funds as well as by using federal funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. Federal TANF funds were at the lowest level since 1998. In total, $11.4 billion was spent on childcare subsidies, down from $12.9 billion the year before.

Monday, February 24, 2014
(New York Daily News)

"During the pre-K years, children are developing the foundation for language in particular and their dispositions and habits," said Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. "It's a period in which there's rapid growth and the child is more influenced by the environment."

It's not that the kids can't catch up later, Barnett said, "it's just more expensive to do that later."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Oklahoma often is held up as the national poster child for offering early childhood education to many students. But, according to state officials and educators, the system has a serious weakness: Data about each student’s academic profile is not shared between early childhood education program providers and school districts, or between providers. That prevents kindergarten teachers from being able to immediately target students’ learning needs when they arrive, officials say. It also prevents providers from doing the same when a child transfers from one program to another or is enrolled in more than one program. Oklahoma State Department of Education plans to roll out a pilot program in eight school districts this spring meant to help districts and early childhood education programs share student data with each other.

Sunday, February 23, 2014
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Opinion))

A Pittsburgh child’s access to high-quality early-childhood education should not be an accident of birth. It should be available and affordable for all Pittsburgh children. . . . There are approximately 5,700 three- and four-year-olds living in our city. If we want to see our children and our city thrive, we can’t wait for Washington or Harrisburg to act. We must work together to give every one of those children access to a free, high-quality preschool education.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Members of the National Governors Association Education and Workforce Committee chaired by Governor Steven Beshear (D-KY) discussed early childhood education. Education Secretary Arne Duncan talked about how the federal government and states can work together to expand early childhood education. Then state education officials used PowerPoint presentations to talk about the success of early education programs in Alabama and Maryland.

This was a session of the National Governors Association 2014 Winter Meeting, held February 21-24 at the J.W. Marriott in Washington, D.C. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014
(Island Packet (SC))

Several studies from the National Institute for Early Education Research indicate "strong preschool education programs can meaningfully enhance early learning and development and thereby produce long-term improvements."