Volume 14, Issue 11

Friday, May 29, 2015

Hot Topics

All eyes are on Minnesota as Governor Dayton continues his battle to enact universal preschool for all 4-year-olds. Last week, the Governor vetoed a budget, that was largely considered bipartisan, for not including any allocations towards his preschool program and called a special session to try to work out a new education spending bill. Most recently, the Governor proposed a tax cut in return for a scaled-back version of his universal preschool plan. For more on universal preschool, see NIEER’s policy report. One of the Governor’s concerns may be that the targeted approach Minnesota has followed in the past has served only about 1 percent of the state’s children going back more than a decade--even doubling or quadrupling this effort leaves behind the vast majority of the state’s children in low-income families. See how Minnesota compares to other states on access and quality.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research released a report “Status of Women in the States,” grading state by state and nationally how each state is doing on women's issues, including child care. The report talks about how quality childcare is largely unaffordable for most families, and therefore, many women are forced to make the decision between caregiving and career. Among the top five states for child care are California, DC, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. The report shows which states provide supports for work and family. In November, the new Child Care Development Block Grant was reauthorized for the first time since 1996. CCDBG not only provides services to low-income families, but also has provisions aimed at improving the quality of care. For more information, see the National Women’s Law Center and CLASP’s recent state-by-state report on CCDBG and implementation issues each state will face as they begin to phase this in. 

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

What does momentum on the national front have to do with the NIEER Yearbook and other research reports? Senior Research Fellow Jim Squires is convinced pre-K would be a footnote rather than a headline without this research tracking our progress. 

Certain practices evoke strong reactions among early educators. Kindergarten “redshirting,” academic “hothousing,” and developmentally inappropriate practice raise ire, yet pale in comparison to the issue of retaining children early in their school careers. As an increasing number of states adopt policies supporting--even requiring--retention, emotions run high among early educators, policymakers, and parents on the topic. NIEER Senior Research Fellow Jim Squires explores the issue in a NIEER blog post. 

Resources

Chronic Absenteeism

A new study published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly finds that attending a center-based preschool program is associated with less chronic absenteeism in kindergarten.  Analyses were conducted using the national ECLS-K 2010-11 data set.  

 

Massachusetts Department of Early Care and Education

Research Connections notes that The Urban Institute recently produced a series of reports as part of a review of the Massachusetts subsidized child care system: Review of Massachusetts child care subsidy eligibility policies and practices: A report for the assessment of the Massachusetts subsidized child care systemReview of budgetary policies and practices in the Massachusetts subsidized child care systemReview of child care needs of eligible families in MassachusettsBalancing quality early education and parents' workforce success: Insights from the Urban Institute's assessment of the Massachusetts subsidized child care system

Scaling up

Ensuring that Evidence Has Impact is the title of a new report from the National Implementation Research Network at Frank Porter Graham. It covers active approaches to implementing and scaling evidence-based prevention strategies.

Report and data available

The Ready at Five 2014 Annual Report has been released, and  2014-2015 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Data are now available on their website

Inequality

From Isabel Sawhill at the Brookings Institute, a blog post on why we should be worried about social inequality, and how early childhood investment can boost social mobility.

 

CCDBG

NWLC & CLASP have produced State-by-State Fact Sheets on the CCDBG Reauthorization.

Professional Development

A new review is available of European research on the impact of the working conditions and continuous professional development (CPD) of the workforce in early childhood education and care on quality of the services and outcomes for children. It contains a wealth of interesting findings and useful recommendations for policy, among the latter: CPD is best embedded in a coherent pedagogical framework or curriculum; practitioners should be actively involved in the process of improving their educational practice; CPD needs to be focused on practitioners learning in practice, in dialogue with colleagues and parents; coaches should be available during staff’s non-contact hours and CPD interventions require changes in working conditions, especially the availability of non-contact time. 

UNC Research Position

UNC is looking for a researcher, who would be a key member of a pre-k evaluation research team at a premier university-based early childhood research institute.  The investigator position involves managing ongoing projects to evaluate statewide pre-kindergarten programs. Interested candidates are invited to submit an application beginning May 18, until the position is filled.

 

FACES Data Training Webinar

Research Connections posted the following information: Join us on May 27, 2015, from 1:30-3:00 pm EDT for a free data training webinar on the Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES) 2009. Baby FACES is a descriptive study of Early Head Start programs designed to inform policy and practice at both national and local levels. The Baby FACES data are made available for secondary analysis through the Research Connections website. This webinar will: Introduce the Baby FACES data archive; Increase your understanding of the design of Baby FACES 2009 and the instruments used; Introduce you to some of the technical issues associated with analyzing the data from Baby FACES 2009; and Review the data organization and features and provide tips for working with Baby FACES data. Register today.

 

Summer Data Workshop, NSECE

Research Connections is offering a Free Summer Data Workshop: Digging into the NSECE: Exploiting the Potential of the Household and Provider Data Files from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) on July 20-23, 2015 in Ann Arbor, MI. Applications are due by June 3 and admitted graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and junior faculty/researchers are eligible for a limited number of stipends to help with travel and housing costs. Visit the Free Summer Data Workshop page to apply and learn more about the workshop.

 

Child Outcomes Summary (COS) Process Module: Collecting & Using Data to Improve Programs

Frank Porter Graham shared details of an ECTA Module available to understand using the Child Outcomes Summary Form.

CEELO Update

CEELO Senior Fellow Jim Squires participated in several presentations at the National Inclusion Institute held May 12-14 at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He presented with colleagues Mary McLean (Univ. of Florida) and Catherine Scott Little (UNC- Greensboro) on inclusionary policies and practices for comprehensive assessment systems for birth-five, and Kindergarten Entry Assessment. Jim also teamed up with former Vermont colleagues Kate Rogers (VT Agency of Education) and Jan Crowe (Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union) on Building the Next Generation of Inclusion Leaders, weaving information of CEELO's Leadership Academy throughout.

State Teacher Evaluation Systems: Fifty State Scan on Resources for Early Childhood Teachers provides a national view of how states include early childhood teachers in state educator evaluation systems. This scan was developed to follow up on the findings reported in CEELO’s policy report, How are Early Childhood Teachers Faring in State Teacher Evaluation Systems?, which analyzed 11 states’ early childhood teacher evaluation policies and practices in depth.

Discussion Guide: State Financing Strategies for Early Care and Education Systems is intended to help state policymakers make decisions about which financing strategies are needed to support early care and education (ECE) programs in their state. State and local investments are increasing in many states for early care and education programs, but in others, states are not investing sufficient dollars to ensure all children have access to high quality programs. A deep understanding of financing strategies and a willingness to engage in finance reform is necessary to ensure all children have access to high quality early care and education. 

Calendar

Monday, July 27, 2015 - 8:00am to Saturday, August 1, 2015 - 5:00pm

Join OMEP for its 67th Assembly and Conference, Early Childhood Pathways to Success. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 1:00pm to Friday, October 2, 2015 - 5:30pm

ReadyNation, a membership organization working to strengthen business and the economy through effective investments in children and youth, is hosting the first Global Business Summit on Early Childhood Investments, October 1-2, 2015 in New York City. This free event will inspire and equip executives to take actions at the community, company, or policy levels that support young children. The event is for businesspeople, policy officials/staff and funders only. Others may attend with a team of business people. For more information and registration visit www.ReadyNation.org/2015Summit.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015 - 8:00am

Participants will:
1. Examine how results of classroom quality are used to identify areas of support and describe and measure change. 
2. Analyze both quantitative and qualitative data to highlight changes in kindergarten classroom teaching practices toward developmentally appropriate practice 

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, May 28, 2015
(Washington Post)

More than one out of every five school-age children in the U.S. were living below the federal poverty line in 2013, according to new federal statistics released Thursday. That amounted to 10.9 million children — or 21 percent of the total — a six percent increase in the childhood poverty rate since 2000.

Childhood poverty rates were on the rise for every racial group, ranging from 39 percent for African Americans and 36 percent for Native Americans, 32 percent for Hispanics and 13 percent for Asians and whites. . . . This year’s report included a focus on kindergarten students and found that poor children start kindergarten with fewer “positive approaches” to learning and struggle academically compared to more affluent children.

“Positive approaches” include persistence in completing tasks, eagerness to learn new things, ability to work independently, adapting easily to changes in routine, keeping belongings organized and following classroom rules.

Thursday, May 28, 2015
(Monterey Herald)

California's state-funded pre-K program serves just 18 percent of 4-year-old children and lags on numerous quality indicators, according to a recent study by the National Institute for Early Education Research. The state spent $4,298 per child enrolled in the 2013-14 school year, an amount that has remained largely unchanged over the last decade.

"The Golden State has not made the financial commitment necessary to improve quality or serve all the children who need quality pre-K," institute director Steve Barnett concluded.

Thursday, May 28, 2015
(Lancaster Guardian)

New r​esearch shows parents across the UK are spending an average of £35,000 on their children by the time they get to five years old – and that’s not a small amount, by anyone’s calculations. On average, that works out at around £6,990 a year or £586 a month across the UK. . .

There is good news in that many of these parents with youngsters under six have made financial plans for their children’s futures, with more than half (52%) having opened a savings account in their children’s names, while 37% have opened a junior ISA or a Child Trust Fund.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015
(Brookings)

So, what can we do? We should invest in evidence-based programs, starting before birth and extending through high school and the college years. If we provided an effective home visiting program, high quality pre-k, and comprehensive school reforms in elementary and high school, it would make a difference in children’s lives, according to rigorous experimental evidence.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015
(ABC 3340)

Over 200 new grants will provide over 3,600 additional Alabama 4-year-olds with access to high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten.

“The most important part of a child's education is a good, solid foundation at a young age, and our First Class voluntary pre-k program provides that,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “All children, regardless of where they live, deserve the opportunity to excel. A high-quality, voluntary pre-k program improves their chances of success in school long-term. This is a wise investment that will benefit children and families throughout Alabama.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015
(KPBS)
California created its own early childhood education program 50 years ago. The goal was to help working families in need. However, the director of San Diego Unified School District’s early childhood education program says the income requirements to qualify for the program are so stringent that many needy families are left out.
 
Robin McCulloch, who runs the state’s preschool program for San Diego Unified, said parents are disqualified for preschool by small amounts all the time...
 
The California State Preschool Program provides three hours a day of preschool instruction for 3- to 5-year-olds, provided families meet strict income requirements. A family of three cannot earn more than $3,518 a month. One dollar over and they are excluded from the program.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
(MCall)

Since he introduced his $33.8 billion budget nearly three months ago, Gov. Tom Wolf has toured the state, visiting schools to press his plans to spend heavily on education. On Tuesday, Wolf continued that publicity tour at a different venue — a prison. The first-term Democrat was outside Camp Hill Correctional Institution near Harrisburg touting his plan to spend an additional $120 million on preschool education as a way to reduce future prison costs of adults. The money would serve 11,600 more children through the state's own PreK-Counts program and 2,400 more low-income children through the federal Head Start program. . .

Quality early childhood education is a crime-fighting tool, Wolf said, that all political parties and taxpayers should embrace as evidenced by the Republican county prosecutors who stood with him in the prison parking lot.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
(StateImpact)

When Gov. Mike Pence signed On My Way Pre-K, the state’s first preschool pilot program, into law ast year, the goal was to get more low-income children enrolled in high quality preschool programs to help their overall education over time. But another result of creating a program like this means more high-quality programming will emerge, and that’s exactly what the state is seeing happen.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
(LA Times)

Angie's mother, Maria Delfina Zuniga, said Olegine's lessons on how to develop her child's vocabulary and motor skills through daily reading and play have made a big difference. Angie has already mastered several words — far ahead of her older children when they were at that age — children she did not regularly read to before kindergarten.

Such information may be pro forma for parents who know to fill their home with music and books, frequently read to their children even before birth and pore over baby-raising bibles like "What to Expect When You're Expecting." But such practices are far less common in places like Lake Los Angeles in the greater Antelope Valley, where half the 12,000 residents are Latinos, many Spanish-speaking, and a quarter live in poverty.

Yet decades of research show that what children learn between birth and 5 years old makes a major difference in their ability to perform well academically later in life. According to the U.S. Department of Education, children's language skills by age 2 are predictive of their pre-literacy skills at age 5, and low-income students start school up to 14 months behind their more affluent peers. Children who attend high-quality preschool programs are less likely to need special education services, be retained in their grades or drop out of high school.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
(Star Herald)

Officials with the Buffett Early Childhood Institute were in the Panhandle last week to examine the picture of early childhood education in the Panhandle.

Samuel J. Meisels, director of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, and other officials with the institute visited Scottsbluff and the Panhandle last week. During the visit, they met with officials from area school districts, the Educational Service Unit and other officials who work in early childhood education.

Meisels said the intent of the visit was to come to the Panhandle and learn more about early childhood education in the Panhandle and the resources available.

 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
(Noodls)

Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday announced over 200 new grants that will provide over 3,600 additional Alabama four-year-olds with access to high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten. The grants announced by Governor Bentley will expand Alabama's First Class voluntary pre-k program to more schools, faith-based preschools, child care centers, Head Start locations, and other new and expanding pre-k sites across the state. Grants were awarded based on several criteria including local needs, local demand and assurances of high quality standards at the new and expanding pre-k sites. Local match funding of 25% will be required. Remaining grants will be allocated to additional sites based on various needs in the near future. . .

Alabama's First Class program is nationally-recognized for its quality. Alabama is currently one of only four states in the country to meet all 10 quality benchmarks established by the National Institute for Early Education Research. The benchmarks include teacher training, staff-child ratios, support services and more. First Class has now met all of these benchmarks for nine years in a row.

Monday, May 25, 2015
(Thesis Magazine)

Last week, after two months of back-and-forth, House Bill 4 won its final passage in the Texas legislature. The bill, which provides state funding for public prekindergarten programs, is now ready to be signed into law.

In its finalized form, House Bill 4 provides for $130 million in grants to public prekindergarten programs which follow state guidelines on curriculum, employ teachers who are certified in accordance with the bill’s provisions, and report to TEA on student outcomes. The grant will be parceled out in increments of up to $1,500 per student for eligible districts, which will be enough to improve existing half-day PreK programs, but not enough to convert half-day to full-day programs.

Sunday, May 24, 2015
(The Gainesville Sun)

Florida voters established free, voluntary prekindergarten for all 4-year-olds in 2002, but our elected officials failed to follow through with the proper funding and standards.

Now, like so many other issues in our state, it’s up to local communities to pick up the slack.

A new report ranked Florida third in the nation for preschool access. Nearly 80 percent of the state’s 4-year-olds are enrolled in state-funded VPK, according to the report from the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Yet Florida ranked 36th in per-child funding for pre-K programs. The state spends far below the national average, the institute found. Florida also ranked among the lowest in the nation in quality, meeting just three of 10 standards.

 

Saturday, May 23, 2015
(Star Tribune)

Gov, Mark Dayton proposed a tax cut in return for a scaled-back version of his plan for universal preschool for all 4-year-olds.

After vetoing two budget bills Saturday, Dayton offered a $260 million, one-year temporary income tax cut if lawmakers approve $250 million in additional money for public schools, including $100 million for preschool that would go only to districts that choose to apply for it.

Friday, May 22, 2015
(Delaware Online)

Recently, more than 150 business, community and philanthropic leaders, parents, early childhood professionals and policymakers gathered in Dover for Early Learning Advocacy Day... 

Providing high-quality early-learning opportunities that help each child realize his or her potential and succeed in school and life may be one of the few topics everyone can agree on in a time of restricted resources and competing priorities for state investment...

We can take pride in the headway we have made for our state's young children and their families, and still recognize that more is needed. Over 40 percent of Delaware children, birth to 5 years old, are from low-income families and are at risk to the achievement gap, which appears as early as 9 months old. Only 38 percent of Delaware's children are reading proficient at the end of fourth grade, according to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Friday, May 22, 2015
(MPR News)

Meanwhile, there’s some consensus among early learning experts that students, regardless of race and economic background, who attend high quality pre-kindergarten do better in school and in life, said Milagros Nores, who is Associate Director of Research at the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Nores added that the effects are even stronger for low-income, minority and dual language children. But Nores said learning can happen in a number of settings, not just public schools, and still be successful.

“If the experience is high-quality, then it doesn’t matter where the child learns,” she said.

Thursday, May 21, 2015
(StateImpact)

For years, Indiana lagged behind other states when it came to educating three- and four-year-olds. Up until a year ago, it was one of a handful of states not providing state run preschool, but last legislative session Governor Pence signed legislation creating On My Way Pre-K, a pilot program funding preschool for low-income four-year-olds in five counties.

Around the same time, Mayor Greg Ballard charged his administration with beginning a similar program for low-income three- and four-year-olds in Indianapolis. Jason Kloth, deputy mayor for Education at the City of Indianapolis, led this effort and says preschool became a priority after reading research that backed it as a solid investment.

“We were facing a lot of challenges in the city around public safety and the mayor really felt we needed to have a more sophisticated point of view as to how we would tackle this problem,” Kloth says. “Meaning not just more police on the streets but a focus on making sure that children have the educational opportunities available to them that over time would lead them to lead productive and healthy lives.”

Both the Indianapolis Preschool Scholarship Program and On My Way Pre-K grant scholarships for families in poverty to attend a preschool rated Level 3 or 4, the top two levels of the state’s Paths to Quality Ranking system.

Thursday, May 21, 2015
(Cincinnati Business Courier)

A tax to fund universal preschool for three- and four-year-olds is expected to be before Cincinnati-area voters in 2016, but a high-profile group of nonprofit, religious, government and business leaders have yet to decide upon which ballot to try to put it. . .

Leaders are still working out whether the Preschool Promise should be a program within the city of Cincinnati only or all of Hamilton County.
 

Thursday, May 21, 2015
(Pioneer Press)

Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the state's education budget Thursday, setting up a special session of the Legislature in the coming weeks.

Dayton had promised to veto the budget earlier this week but couldn't use his veto power until the bill was officially presented to him. That happened Wednesday night. At 3:36 p.m. the next day, Dayton put his veto stamp on the $17 billion education spending plan for 2016-17...

Dayton wrote in his veto letter. "Also unacceptable is the absence of any version of voluntary, universal pre-kindergarten which will help 47,000 4-year-olds, which has been my number one priority in this session."...

Though Dayton dropped his demand for universal preschool in final negotiations, he's not giving up on the idea.

Thursday, May 21, 2015
(US News)

While Senate education committee members are hard at work trying to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act, a bigger threat to our education system that almost no one is talking about looms large. Several weeks ago, Congress passed a budget resolution that outlines huge cuts to nondefense discretionary spending, putting our country on track to fund nondefense programs at historically low levels...

Federal per-pupil education spending will fall to levels not seen since before 2000...

Not surprisingly, these cuts hurt most those who were already behind. Funding for Title I of ESEA, which provides funding for schools serving low-income students, is $1 billion less today than it was in 2010, a decrease of seven percent. Title II of ESEA, which funds teacher quality programs, is down by 25 percent, or more than $800 million. Meanwhile, federal child care support for low-income families has barely budged since 2010. While Congress has returned Head Start to pre-sequester funding levels, those dollars do not go as far today as they did in 2010.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
(Tri-City Herald)

Pasco School District’s request for $7.5 million for its new pre-kindergarten center did not make it into the state’s capital budget. That’s disappointing, exasperating and sad considering the desperate need for preschool programs around the state.

A recent study by the National Institute for Early Education Research ranked Washington 33rd in the country for state preschool access for low-income 4-year-olds. The dismal standing means the number of children enrolled in state early childhood education programs is way too low, and not enough children are ready for school when they start kindergarten.

If the state had approved construction money for Pasco’s new pre-kindergarten center, it would have been an asset to the community and would have helped the state boost its preschool opportunities. As it is, Pasco school officials will have to figure out other ways to proceed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
(Lancaster Online)

The disturbing fact is that 72 percent of today’s young Pennsylvanians are not eligible for military service because they are too poorly educated, medically or physically unfit, or have disqualifying criminal records. These shortfalls will continue to undermine the military’s efforts to recruit high-quality individuals.

In the end, this capability gap among our youth threatens both national security and economic prosperity. For this reason, more than 500 of my fellow retired generals, admirals and other senior military leaders have become members of Mission: Readiness — Military Leaders for Kids, in order to support targeted investments to help young Americans grow up to be educated, healthy, and fit to ensure our defense and to succeed in life.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
(Wilsonville Spokesman)

Early childhood programs, though their scope is yet to be defined, are the likely winners in the scramble for $60 million that Oregon’s legislative budget writers have set aside for targeted education priorities.

It’s a scramble because the budget proposed by former Gov. John Kitzhaber for the Oregon Department of Education requested $220 million for targeted priorities.

Also pending are other proposals to spend millions more, ranging from a preschool program for children ages 3 and 4 to additional grants for career and technical education programs in middle and high schools.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
(Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

Since the inception of Head Start 50 years ago, our understanding of the importance of the early years for young children’s success has steadily grown. Now, a broad coalitionof local, state and federal policy-makers, school leaders, economists, business leaders, neurologists, and even military and police officers tout the benefits of investing in high quality preschool education. We now know that high quality preschool, often called pre-K, can be provided at large scale and still be effective at improving children’s school success.

Because pre-K is so important to creating lifelong benefits, we are passionate about expanding opportunities for young children to access high-quality, effective and affordable preschool education.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
(Washington Post)

Beyond the diapers and sleepless nights, perhaps the biggest worry for parents with young kids is that almost no state in America provides affordable child care for those under 5.

That's a conclusion reached in a new report Wednesday from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Annual payments in several states are higher than college tuition rates, eating up to a third of a working mother's income. The average annual cost of full-time daycare for a baby in New York is now about $14,500. Parents can expect to pay roughly $16,500 in Massachusetts, $11,628 in California and $12,500 in Illinois. In metropolitan regions, including some of the most competitive work centers in the country, the price soars even higher. Yearly costs in nation's capital are on average at about $22,000.

“No state," the IWPR researchers wrote wrote, "provides adequate child-care supports to a majority of children under five." The West appears to dominate the bottom third of the rankings.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
(Think Progress)

As a country, the United States is the only developed nation that doesn’t guarantee paid family leave or paid sick days, and it ranks toward the bottom for how much it spends on early childhood education. But things are even spottier at the state level.

In a new report, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research has for the first time graded each state on how well it supports working parents and, in particular, working women when it comes to paid leave, elder and child care, and the share of parents of young children who are in the labor force. Not a single state got a top grade; the highest ranked were California, New York, and Washington, D.C., which all got B grades. Three states, Indiana, Utah, and Montana, got failing grades. “It’s the outcome of very minimal federal standards on these issues,” said Ariane Hegewisch, study director at IWPR and the lead author on the report.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
(MPR News)

An irritated Gov. Mark Dayton lashed out at Republican lawmakers on Tuesday, saying he would veto a bill that funds education without providing money for his top priority of universal pre-kindergarten.

For the past week, Dayton had intensely lobbied House Republicans and Senate Democrats to add spending for his pre-K plan for four-year-olds. . .

Dayton said he was told there is no support for universal pre-K among Republican legislators.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
(CityLab)

America is waking up to child care as a major political issue. Back in January, President Obama discussed it at length for the first time in his State of the Union address. “In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever,” the president said, as parents around the country cheered (or shouted “Finally!” in exasperation).

Our child-care problem is really a cluster of them. First, there is the cost. On average, according to a 2014 report by Child Care Aware, parents of an infant in Massachusetts spend a shocking $16,549 per year for child care—that's 53 percent more than public-college tuition. And Massachusetts is not an outlier: In his speech, Obama talked about a Minnesota family who spend more on child care than on their mortgage, which is not that uncommon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
(Center for American Progress)

Access to early childhood education must play a critical role in any national agenda that seeks to reduce income inequality, fix our broken criminal justice system, and close education achievement gaps, and the Strong Start bill represents a significant step in that direction. As our country begins to engage in a discussion about its direction in 2016 and beyond, Congress should send a clear signal that investing in our youngest Americans matters by passing the Strong Start bill.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
(Washington Post)

Most taxpayer-funded preschool programs in the District scored above targets for promoting social and emotional development and maximizing student learning time, and below targets for providing instructional supports to students, according to a new report released by the Office of the State Superintendent for Education.

The report, which evaluated programs during the 2013-2014 school year, is the first to use a common tool to measure the quality of pre-kindergarten classes across the city.

Monday, May 18, 2015
(Newark Advocate)

A new report shows Ohio tops the nation in its struggles to regain preschool enrollment that took a hit during the Great Recession, but funding boosts are helping.

The National Institute for Early Education Research’s State of Preschool report also puts Ohio among the bottom in quality based on its 10 standards, but state officials say they are well on their way to improving.

“We are progressing. We are not yet where we want to be, but we’re getting there,” said Wendy Grove, Ohio’s director of early learning and school readiness.

Monday, May 18, 2015
(Bringmethenews.com)

The Minnesota House passed the education finance bill early Monday morning – a bill Gov. Mark Dayton has said he’ll veto because it doesn’t give enough money to universal pre-kindergarten programs.

The bill passed the house 71-59 around 4:30 a.m. Monday. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it is also expected to pass. It doesn’t include the funding for the pre-k program that Dayton has pushed for this session, but it does include $400 million in new spending, including an early education scholarship program and School Readiness early learning programs, the Session Daily reports.

Monday, May 18, 2015
(Houston Public Media)

A good start can go a long way in a child’s education.

But a recent report found that Texas needs to do more to ensure that early start in preschool really is a good one for its students.

Texas meets only two out of ten quality benchmark standards. That’s the lowest rating out of any state in the country, according to Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

“The teacher doesn’t have to have a college degree. In none of the classrooms is there a limit on class-size. There could be 35, 40, in theory 100 four-year-olds, in a classroom with one teacher and no assistant,” he said.

On the brighter side, Barnett said that Texas is doing a pretty good job on enrollment.

Monday, May 18, 2015
(Huffington Post (Impact))

Head Start was founded on the principles that education is the door to opportunity, and that everyone, no matter their background, deserves a shot at a productive life.

Since it was founded in the summer of 1965, Head Start, along with Early Head Start, has served more than 32 million children. This year alone, those programs will help more than one million children prepare for school and build a foundation for a healthier, happier life.

But this work doesn't just help children; it strengthens families and our entire community.

Parents are powerful partners, and as the original multi-generation program, Head Start helps them create and implement family strategies and supports their ability to work.

Sunday, May 17, 2015
(Capitol View)

With less than two days left in the legislative session and Gov. Mark Dayton threatening to veto a school funding bill, President Barack Obama’s chief education official is trying to put pressure on legislators to cut a deal that Dayton will sign.

“I am writing because of the extraordinary potential that high-quality preschool has to set children on a path to success in school and in life,” wrote U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a letter to House Education Finance Chair Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie and Senate Education Chair Charles Wiger, DFL-Maplewood.

“Extending that opportunity offers the potential to transform the lives of countless young children, in Minnesota and throughout the nation, for decades to come.”

Saturday, May 16, 2015
(Tuscaloosa News)

Alabama's First Class Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program continues to lead the nation in quality for the ninth year in a row, according to a new study released May 12. Alabama is one of only four states in the country to meet all 10 quality benchmarks established by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

“A strong economic future is grounded in high quality education, and Alabama's First Class Pre-K Program provides a great foundation for students to prepare for success in life,” Gov. Robert Bentley said in a news release.

Saturday, May 16, 2015
(The Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore is under a microscope. Our beautiful but scarred city has made national headlines for all the wrong reasons. I reject the notion that Baltimore has "passed the point of no return" ("Baltimore had a lot of warning about issues surrounding Freddie Gray," May 11). We must search for ways to accelerate change, to re-focus on proven investments. . .

According to a the State Preschool Yearbook, just published by the National Institute for Early Education Research, Maryland ranks 17th in state spending on pre-K. The same report ranks Maryland 13th in access to pre-K for four-year-olds. That doesn't sound too bad, but in what is arguably the wealthiest state in the nation, it's time to demand better.

Saturday, May 16, 2015
(New York Daily News)

Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014 with a promise to end the “tale of two cities” by fighting economic inequality. His administration’s first big policy initiative — to the tune of roughly $400 million per year — was expanding the city’s pre-kindergarten program, on the path to universal pre-K.

In providing enough free, full-day, high-quality pre-K seats for all 4-year-olds, of any income, who wish to enroll, the de Blasio administration envisioned a program that would provide something sorely lacking from public preschool initiatives targeted to low-income families: the possibility for socioeconomically (and racially) diverse classrooms. . .

But despite the massive and commendable expansion of pre-K to a predicted 70,000 4-year-olds of a variety of different backgrounds by this fall, universal pre-K is falling short of its goals for integrated classrooms, as I explain in a new report published by The Century Foundation.

Saturday, May 16, 2015
(WFPL)

A new non-profit report examining the state of preschool in the U.S. found that funding and enrollment have increased nationwide–but not in Kentucky.

The National Institute for Early Education Research reports that states have increased  funding the past two years, and in 2013-2014 that increase totaled $120 million. But Kentucky spent 5 percent less per child in that same time period.