Volume 14, Issue 12

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hot Topics

According to a new report from Shared Prosperity Philadelphia, “Thirty-nine percent of Philadelphia’s children under age six are in families below the federal poverty line ($24,250 for a family of four), while another 24 percent are in families just above poverty level (100 to 200 percent of the poverty line).” As part of a larger strategic plan to counter the detrimental effects of poverty in the city, Philadelphia has announced a plan to  implement city-wide early learning plan, A Running Start Philadelphia. The plan will focus on increasing access to high quality learning programs for children from birth through Kindergarten age, and on improving quality in existing programs. See the Executive Summary here.

Steve Barnett wrote a commentary for PNC recently, outlining why preschool is a good investment, and how we can being to help states move forward with making access to high quality pre-K for all children a real opportunity. In brief: “There is a great deal more work to be done. If we expect meaningful impact before today’s young children have their own kids, the public will have to demand that their elected officials set realistic goals and stay with them.”

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

Jim Squires blogged about Next generation leadership in early childhood education, in conjunction with CEELO’s recent Roundtable on leadership. Many additional resources on leadership from that conference are available here.



CLASP and the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) had released an implementation guide for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization earlier this year. They have also created a series of fact sheets summarizing state-specific information related to the new law’s requirements in each state as outlined in the guide.



NAECS-SDE has position papers on a range of vital issues, including the importance of play, and Natural Resources shared a new study from Stanford on the role of recess in kindergarten.



NABSE features a report from Phil Sirinides of CPRE on unintended consequences of closing the gap by increasing quality


Social-Emotional Skills

A study in the Journal of School Psychology examines the impact of early childhood programs on reducing externalizing behavior issues. They find that programs intensively targeting social and emotional development have a significant impact on externalizing behavior.


Toolkit for Investing

Pennsylvania Early Education news shared this Toolkit for Investing in Early Childhood from the University of Pennsylvania's Center for High Impact Philanthropy. The toolkit introduces and organizes existing information and resources to help donors and other funders identify investments that will truly make a difference in early childhood.

CEELO Update

CEELO and NAECS-SDE recently hosted the 2015 Roundtable, collaboratively planned with national technical assistance partners, to build the capacity of state agency early childhood specialists to provide informed leadership about research-based practices affecting the development and learning of children, from birth through grade three. The meeting provided participants with cutting edge research and innovative proven practices to enhance state policies and programs. All resources available from the meeting, including a Storify of related Tweets, and presentation slides, are available here.

Lori Connors-Tadros, Jana Martella, Debi Mathias, and Vincent Costanza presented on coherent policy development  at the recent NAEYC conference for Early Childhood Professional Development. Their presentation,  a working paper, and  guiding question page are available.

Alexandra Figueras-Daniel and Shannon Riley-Ayers presented on a reflective coaching model at the recent NAEYC conference for Early Childhood Professional Development. The presentation outlined the processes through which improved outcomes are achievable using a reflective coaching approach in Kindergarten classrooms. The presenters shared the research that demonstrates teacher and system change around a coaching initiative in a NJ district.  Participants examined how results of classroom quality were used to identify areas of support and describe and measure change.  Attendees also analyzed  both quantitative and qualitative data to highlight changes in kindergarten classroom teaching practices toward developmentally appropriate practice.  

An Executive Summary of the new policy report on eligibility for state preschool programs is now available.

The Discussion Guide: State Financing Strategies for Early Care and Education Systems, by Lori Connors-Tadros, 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. Lori Connors-Tadros presented this information at the Sustainability Peer Learning Exchange hosted by the Early Learning Challenge TA Center in Atlanta in May. Financing Early Care and Education Annotated Bibliography of Resources, by Michelle Horowitz and Lori Connors-Tadros 


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.

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, June 11, 2015
(Center for American Progress)

One of the many tools the nation has to support low-income families and their young children is the Child and Adult Care Food Program, or CACFP. Managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, and administered by states and nonprofit groups, CACFP provides snacks and meals to more than 3 million children at child care centers, family day care homes, Head Start programs, after-school programs, and homeless shelters. In 2014, the program funded nearly 2 billion meals; the vast majority of these went to children younger than 5. Subsidizing meals defrays overall child care costs for parents and contributes to children’s ability to thrive and learn. Beyond this, CACFP also has a track record of supporting healthy and safe child care environments.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Mayor's Office of New York City has shared a video of some preschool students offering their words of wisdom to future 4-year-olds. The youngsters also attempt to set the expectations of future students, should their parents decide to enroll them in the program.

According to one source, there are no monsters. This adorable video also reminds parents that “pre-K lets children develop strong math and reading skills early on.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2015
(PNC Bank)

I suggest the following as ways to improve early education. First, all states should set a goal to serve all 4-year-olds in high quality pre-K within 10 years. Many states could reach this goal more quickly, but every state can do this in a decade. Second, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that every preschool teacher have a BA degree and specialized training in early childhood education. States should set a goal to have a fully qualified pre-K teacher in every classroom within five years. Finally, the federal government should offer financial incentives for states to set and meet these goals, and it should reform its own programs - child care subsidies and Head Start – to more directly support and integrate with state funded pre-K at the same high standards.

Few public investments have the solid evidence base behind them that exists for quality pre-K.  I published my first paper on the high economic returns to public pre-K 30 years ago. The evidence has continued to pile up since. This year more than 1,200 researchers signed an open letter to the public and policy makers saying there is a broad scientific consensus that “Access to quality early childhood education is essential” and that “early learning can benefit middle-class children as well as disadvantaged children.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2015
(Washington Post)

School leaders and policymakers trying to improve academic results for disadvantaged children need to look outside the classroom at social and economic conditions that directly affect a child’s ability to learn, according to a new report released Wednesday.

The paper, written by Leila Morsy and Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, focuses on five factors that new research suggests hinder the achievement of poor children: parenting practices in low-income households, single parenthood, irregular work schedules of parents in low-wage jobs, poor access to health care and exposure to lead.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015
(MSN Daily Dot)

According to the Washington Post, a new paper by University of Maryland’s Melissa Kearney and Wellesley College’s Philip Levine finds that students who watch Sesame Streeton a regular basis are more likely to keep up with their grade level. The effects of the show were most pronounced in boys from black and other disadvantaged communities.

After Sesame Street was introduced, children living in places where the show was broadcast saw a 14 percent drop in their likelihood of being behind in school. Levine and Kearney note in their paper that a wide body of previous research has found that Head Start, the pre-kindergarten program for low-income Americans, delivers a similar benefit.

However, that doesn’t mean Sesame Street should be used as a substitute for education. Levine and Kearney argue that TV should only act as a supplement to the classroom, as Head Start offers “family support, medical and dental services, and development of emotional skills that help kids in social settings.” 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015
(EdWeek )

Reading during the rinse cycle? Singing during the spin dry? 

Why not? asks Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and Next Generation, two nonprofits that have made early-childhood education a focus of philanthropic efforts. On Tuesday, the Coin Laundry Association announced that it will be asking its members to hang posters and distribute pamphlets that encourage parents to use laundry day as an opportunity to talk, read, and sing to their children. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

At Willow Creek State Preschool in Santa Rosa last week, site supervisor Paula Schaefer and one of her teachers organized piles of books, supplies and other classroom items as a construction crew worked nearby.

The city-owned building that houses the preschool needs a new roof and other renovations to accommodate the 48 preschoolers who will attend morning and afternoon sessions when school resumes in August. Repairs are underway, thanks to a one-time building fund that Sonoma County established this year to fix up aging preschool buildings.

Also last week, in neighboring Marin County, an enthusiastic crowd of more than 100 people, including local government and school officials, parents and other supporters of early education, gathered at a movie theater in downtown San Rafael to promote plans for a countywide ballot measure that would raise Marin’s sales tax by ¼ cent to expand preschool access for children from low-income families.

The counties’ contrasting approaches to funding early education programs highlight the efforts of local governments across the state to expand access to preschools.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015
(The Hill)

The foundation of a thriving middle class relies on a great education for every child, beginning in the early years. Across the country, there’s a growing understanding that, if our nation’s children are to fulfill their potential, we must expand educational opportunity, starting with our youngest learners.

Unfortunately, millions of children in our nation — especially the most vulnerable — are cut off from quality preschool. The United States ranks 31 out of 39 among countries within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development for preschool enrollment for 4-year-olds. . .

A new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University finds that state-funded preschool programs have the potential to close opportunity gaps in early education, but the report also indicates states need help to better reach this goal. 

The NIEER finds about 1.3 million children were enrolled in state-funded preschool programs for the 2013-2014 year, representing an increase of more than 8,300 children over the previous school year. This is the largest number of children in state-funded preschool ever recorded. Despite this welcome sign of improvement after years with little or no progress, this figure represents less than 30 percent of all 4-year-olds in the country.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015
(The New York Times)

Concerned that kindergarten has become overly academic in recent years, this suburban school district south of Baltimore is introducing a new curriculum in the fall for 5-year-olds. Chief among its features is a most old-fashioned concept: play.

As American classrooms have focused on raising test scores in math and reading, an outgrowth of the federal No Child Left Behind law and interpretations of the new Common Core standards, even the youngest students have been affected, with more formal lessons and less time in sandboxes. But these days, states like Vermont, Minnesota and Washington are again embracing play as a bedrock of kindergarten.

Sunday, June 7, 2015
(Washington Post)

The most authoritative study ever done on the impact of “Sesame Street,” to be released Monday, finds that the famous show on public TV has delivered lasting educational benefits to millions of American children — benefits as powerful as the ones children get from going to preschool.

The paper from the University of Maryland’s Melissa Kearney and Wellesley College’s Phillip Levine finds that the show has left children more likely to stay at the appropriate grade level for their age, an effect that is particularly pronounced among boys, African Americans and children who grow up in disadvantaged areas. . . . 

They also raise a provocative question, at a time when many lawmakers are pushing to expand spending on early-childhood education: Do kids need preschool if a TV show works just as well?

Yes, say the economists — and the “Sesame Street” educational team. Head Start, Kearney and Levine write, was designed to provide more than an academic boost: It delivers family support, medical and dental services, and development of emotional skills that help kids in social settings.

Sunday, June 7, 2015
(NPR Ed)

Oregon has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country — just shy of 69 percent in 2013. The number has nudged up in recent years, but advocates say to make big improvements, Oregon has to start young.

Research long ago established that low-income students who attended a high-quality preschool program graduated high school 77 percent of the time, compared with 60 percent of those who did not attend preschool.

One reason is that preschool puts kids on a path toward reading by third grade.

The numbers tell a similar story in Oregon. Of high schoolers who were reading by the third grade, 77 percent graduate. But for students who struggled in those early years, the grad rate is around 53 percent, according to the state education department.

Friday, June 5, 2015
(Lehigh Valley Live)

About 7,000 public high school seniors are receiving diplomas this time of year in Northampton and Lehigh counties. But that pales in comparison to the number of even younger Lehigh Valley learners – about 13,500 in all – who are missing out on the once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity that can help them earn that diploma: publicly funded, high-quality pre-kindergarten. 

The fact is, pre-k has a ripple effect that goes far beyond the early years. Research shows kids who benefit from high-quality pre-k enter school with stronger literacy, language, math and social/emotional skills. They also are less likely to need special education services, less likely to repeat grades, and more likely to graduate high school and enroll in college. And over a lifetime, these young learners will see stronger employment opportunities and increased earning potential, and they will be less likely to end up on the wrong side of the law.

All of this adds up to benefits not only for the child, but for all of us. High-quality pre-k saves us money. The problem is, not enough children have access to it.

Thursday, June 4, 2015
 - May 20: At a press conference, the Governor reiterated his concerns and said that on the last night of session prior to adjournment, he had stepped away from his pre-k program but wanted an additional $125 million in funding. The House refused that offer.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
(New York Times (Opinion))

If these three experimental programs are further validated over time and can be successfully replicated, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about well-designed, adequately funded, carefully assessed intervention in early childhood. The modest but genuine success of the most fully conceived programs of this nature suggests that a disadvantaged class marked by test scores at the bottom of the ability distribution is not inevitable. Instead, the question of what to do becomes a political issue about the distribution of resources — both private and public — and, above all, about the will of the electorate.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015
(CBS Philly)

And in Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter says, a 17-member commission is currently being formed “to develop an implementation plan and funding proposals for high quality, universal pre-K for three- and four-year-olds in Philadelphia.  The results of the commission’s work will be delivered to the mayor and City Council by April 2016, for full consideration by city leadership.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

After more than a week of back-and-forth negotiations — and on the same day nearly 9,500 layoff notices went out to state employees — Minnesota’s political leaders found a way to break an impasse that threatened to shut down parts of state government. 

On Monday, House Republicans and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton agreed to spend $525 million more on education over the next two years. That’s about $125 million more than the Legislature initially allocated in its education budget, which Dayton vetoed, but less than the $150 million Dayton insisted on in the 2015 session’s final days. The agreement takes leaders back to where they were in the final hours of the 2015 legislative session, when that $25 million difference was the sticking point in trying to work out an 11th-hour solution. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

At a recent budget hearing, a state senator asked, "If you were to advise us as to an investment that we should be making in another agency, in another part of government, that would impact what you do, change the outcome of what you do, what would you recommend?"

My answer was easy: early-childhood education programs.

As I see it, every time we talk about corrections reform, it really must begin with the realization that improving the chances for children, especially those in our most disadvantaged communities, is not just a great investment financially, but our responsibility and the true answer to improving criminal justice in America.


Monday, June 1, 2015
(Star Tribune (Commentary))

If we want to be the Education State again, preschool (universal or scholarship) needs our attention. We have a great higher-education system in Minnesota that has served us well, spawning great jobs and leading industries. But we were late to universal kindergarten as a state. Let’s not be late to embrace the importance of preschool for all of our children.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Brian Maher walks through the hallways and classrooms he built, unnoticed by the babies, toddlers and preschoolers who are playing, singing, coloring, building and doing all the other things that kids do when they learn. Maher put up $5.5 million to build the 6,500-square-foot addition to the school, but that is just part of his commitment.

While the school extension he financed is for babies, toddlers and children up to 3 years old, Maher is also behind a drive to increase public preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-old kids statewide.

Pre-K Our Way (prekourway.org) was launched earlier this year and has enlisted former governors Tom Kean and Jim Florio, and Florio's wife, Lucinda, to open up the conversation – and, hopefully, some wallets – for statewide preschool education. "Preschool education is the one area of education that everyone agrees on," Kean said. "All the research shows that it gives children a tremendous advantage as they go through school. Brian wants to make a difference that is very important, and I'm behind it all the way."

Saturday, May 30, 2015
(Springfield News-Sun)

Expanding preschool might be key to improving the Springfield City School District’s performance, but it comes with a hefty local price tag as Ohio lags most states for early education funding. But district leaders, including incoming Superintendent Bob Hill, said the added cost now will pay dividends later in terms of better test scores and savings from reduced remediation. It’s part of a larger, nationwide movement to get more 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in quality pre-kindergarten programs as studies have repeatedly shown it improves student achievement and quality of life down the road. . .

uring the 2013-14 school year, Ohio ranked 36th out of 41 states with public programs for enrolling 4 year olds, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. That’s down from 19th in 2002 when the institute started tracking state pre-kindergarten programs. The state spent about $4,000 per student last year, ranking 21st.