Volume 14, Issue 16

Friday, August 7, 2015

Hot Topics

People are talking about the cost of child-care for parents, and the cost of care for providers. FiveThirtyEight suggests that parent costs may not have risen as much as people think.  Too often the term cost is used ambiguously in these discussions. To understand changes in the economics of early care and education, it is important to distinguish between expenditure, price, and cost changes. The primary determinants of unit costs, wages, do not seem to have risen, but this could happen at the same time that prices for quality care increased, if parents respond to higher prices by purchasing lower quality care. One notable trend is a growing gap between what higher and lower income families spend on care for their children. Why this has happened is an important question—for example: Has expansion of state pre-K led to lower expenditures by low-income families? Have lower-income families shifted to lower quality care? or Are higher-income families accessing increasingly better services?

TribLive contends that in fact, many parents are staying home, as expenditures for child care wash out any financial benefit to working. NPR weighed in on the issue, as raising the minimum wage becomes a hot topic, asking whether we really should be paying fast food workers more than we pay people caring for our children.

In the Daily Beast, Eleanor Clift asks Can This Save Early Childhood Education? in an article discussing social impact bonds (SIBs) for funding early education programs. SIBs raise some troubling questions, as well as offering new opportunities. Who really bears the risks for failure, and are the incentives for performance misaligned? Should states be paying investment banks an interest rate premium over their normal borrowing costs to fund early care and education? Do the methods used to estimate benefits overstate the impacts leading states to overpay for results?

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the William Penn Foundation released a report by the Nonprofit Finance Fund, Overcoming Financial Barriers to Expanding High-Quality Early Care & Education in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Expert speakers addressed the need for policy revisions, outlined the very real financial restrictions providers face in attempting to provide access to high quality programs, and discussed the competing interests of providing quality and keeping programs afloat in a market where the dollars follow the child--and there are never enough dollars. QRIS systems run the risk of creating incentives for providers to opt for lower quality levels in order to stay afloat. 

A Running Start Philadelphia outlines the city’s plan to raise quality and expand access to early care and education for children birth to 5. This plan highlights the challenges the city faces to provide high quality care—and issues other states and providers face as well—together with strategies to overcome those challenges.

In case you missed it, The Atlantic featured an article on young children as citizens, highlighting the work of Harvard GSE’s Project Zero. “This project is grounded in the belief that children are not just future or hypothetical citizens—rather, they are citizens of the city in the here and now, with the right to express their opinions and participate in the civic and cultural life of Washington, DC. . . .  When children grow up in a culture and begin their schooling with support for thinking, feeling, and acting in groups, they are more likely to participate in and practice democracy as informed and caring citizens.” 

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

Continuing our blog series on leadership, we have a post from Jacqueline Jones of the Foundation for Child Development on leading from within the field; from Susan E. Andersen, On Leadership and Listening, and from Eleanor J. Shirley on Leadership in Early Education.


Research Connections cited a brief: Clients' Recommendations for Improving the Child Care Subsidy Program from the Urban Institute, which examines the recommendations of child care subsidy recipients for improving subsidy program stability and child care continuity in Illinois and New York, and examines the policies in CCDBG alongside the recommendations.

CLASP and the NWLC have released a series of materials related to CCDBG as well, noting “The bipartisan passage of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 strengthens the law’s dual role as both a major early childhood education program and a work support for low-income families. For states to achieve the full potential of the CCDBG reauthorization—while avoiding trade-offs that harm children, families, and the child care providers who serve them—thoughtful implementation and new resources will be essential.” Click through for more details. Implementing the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization: A Guide for States, will “help policymakers and advocates gain a better understanding of what is entailed in fully implementing the law.”  Implementing the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization: State-by-State Fact Sheets “summarize state-specific information related to CCDBG’s requirements in each state as outlined in the implementation guide.” Child Care Assistance: A Vital Support for Working Families “provides an overview of the research showing why child care assistance is so important to low-income, vulnerable families.” The Webinar: How the New CCDBG Law Would Impact Low-Wage Workers “covered critical information about the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization law . . . looking closely at provisions of the new CCDBG law that most impact low-wage workers.”

CRRU reported on the current issue of Early Childhood Matters, which includes A good start: Advances in early childhood development,  a survey of the state of the early childhood field on various topics ranging from child development outcomes to early intervention to measurement.  

Zero to Three reported on two articles on the impact of poverty on child development: Association of Child Poverty, Brain Development, and Academic Achievement, in JAMA, concluded that “The influence of poverty on children’s learning and achievement is mediated by structural brain development. To avoid long-term costs of impaired academic functioning, households below 150% of the federal poverty level should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments.” Poverty’s Most Insidious Damage: The Developing Brain, also in JAMA, addresses that study and notes that it “showed that poor cognitive and academic performance among children living in poverty was mediated by a smaller hippocampus and frontal and temporal lobes and that the decrease in volume of the latter 2 structures explained as much as 15% to 20% of the achievement deficits found.”

CRRU reported on the current issue of Early Childhood Matters, which includes A good start: Advances in early childhood development,  a survey of the state of the early childhood field on various topics ranging from child development outcomes to early intervention to measurement.  

Zero to Three reported on two articles on the impact of poverty on child development: Association of Child Poverty, Brain Development, and Academic Achievement, in JAMA, concluded that “The influence of poverty on children’s learning and achievement is mediated by structural brain development. To avoid long-term costs of impaired academic functioning, households below 150% of the federal poverty level should be targeted for additional resources aimed at remediating early childhood environments.” Poverty’s Most Insidious Damage: The Developing Brain, also in JAMA, addresses that study and notes that it “showed that poor cognitive and academic performance among children living in poverty was mediated by a smaller hippocampus and frontal and temporal lobes and that the decrease in volume of the latter 2 structures explained as much as 15% to 20% of the achievement deficits found.”

Zero to Three also released a report, Supporting Parent Engagement in Linguistically Diverse Families to Promote Young Children's Learning: Implications for Early Care and Education Policy, outlining policy initiatives that “could strengthen the capacity of early care and education programs to support parent engagement.”

AERA Dissertation Grants. AERA provides dissertation support for advanced doctoral students to undertake doctoral dissertations using data from the large-scale national or international data sets supported by the NCES, NSF, and/or other federal agencies. The selection process is competitive. AERA Dissertation Grants are awarded for one-year for an amount of up to $20,000. The next application deadline is Thursday, September 10, 2015.

AERA Research Grants. AERA provides small grants for faculty members, postdoctoral researchers, and other doctoral-level scholars to undertake quantitative research using data from the large-scale national or international data sets supported by the NCES, NSF, and/or other federal agencies. The selection process is competitive. AERA Research Grants are awarded for one or two years, for an amount of up to $35,000. The next application deadline is Thursday, September 10, 2015.

CEELO Update

Tax Policy and Quality This annotated bibliography identifies selected resources on using tax policy, especially refundable tax credits, as a financing strategy for early childhood programs.

Retention in the Early Years: Is Early Retention an Effective, Research-Based Strategy for Improving Student Outcomes? This FastFact reviews literature on research and practice about the effects of early retention, and highlight considerations that make retention a nuanced rather than definitive research based approach to enhancing student outcomes.

2015 Roundtable Summary This summary provides a high level overview of the 2015 Roundtable (Leading for Excellence), a list of resources shared by presenters and attendees, and outlines the sessions in the meeting.

In this week’s roundup of resources, CEELO examines how states are evaluating early childhood educators, including a 50-state scan of policies, a report on how well those policies are working for teachers, and information about whether early education teachers are included in evaluation policies at all. There are also guides to designing effective evaluation systems, and resources to help states and administrators support teachers.

The 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 policy and practice in depth. 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 additional information related to infant/toddler and other early childhood staff.

 Early Childhood Teachers in State Educator Evaluation Systems is an annotated bibliography that offers resources on observations of teacher practice, student learning and growth, professional development, legislation and policy guidance, and national resources to support early childhood teachers in state teacher evaluation systems. Evaluating Early Childhood Educators: Prekindergarten through Third Grade, a Supplement to the Practical Guide to Designing Comprehensive Educator Evaluation Systems helps state and district teams to problem-solve and make design decisions to differentiate evaluation systems for early childhood teachers. Lori Connors-Tadros and Jana Martella designed this supplemental guide as an extension to the Great Teacher and Leader Center’s resource, Practical Guide to Designing Comprehensive Teacher Evaluation Systems


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.

Thursday, October 15, 2015 - 3:00pm to Friday, October 16, 2015 - 4:00pm

The Research Symposium will address a range of critically important issues and themes relating to the health and wellbeing of young children. Plenary speakers include some of the leading medical and scientific thinkers, as well as workshop presentations and a poster session.

The annual Symposium will focus on the health, education, and developmental of young children, particular in terms of: Physical Health and Wellbeing; Mental Health and Executive Function; and Epigenetics and Environment.

Friday, October 16, 2015 - 7:00am

The Center for Early Education Evaluation at HighScope will hold its 4th Annual Conference for Early Childhood Research and Evaluation on the theme "Assessing Children’s Progress in Early Education and Intervention:  Challenges and Innovations in Diverse Contexts.”
Registration is now open and the conference is seeking sponsorships

Opening Speaker: Linda Espinosa, PhD
Discussion Panel:
• Mike Lopez, PhD, Abt Associates (Discussant)
• Sherri Oden, PhD, Oakland University (Discussant)
• Richard Lower, MA, Michigan Department of Education (Moderator)
• Rachel Brady, PT, DPT, MS, Georgetown University (Panelist)
• Hiram Fitzgerald, PhD, Michigan State University  (Panelist)

• Kyle Snow, PhD, NAEYC Center for Applied Research
• Christina Weiland, EdD, University of Michigan
• Christine A. B. Maier, PhD, Oakland Schools
• Beth Marshall, MA, HighScope and Lisa Wasacz, Michigan Department of Education
• Tomoko Wakabayashi, EdD, CEEE at HighScope and Sheri Butters, Early Childhood Investment Corporation
• Maria DeVoogd Beam, LMSW, Oakland University; Lisa Sturges, PhD, Macomb Great Start Collaborative and Cynthia Schellenbach, PhD, Oakland University
• Kate McGilly, PhD, Parents as Teachers
•  Matthew Fifolt, MEd, PhD, Evaluation and Assessment Unit, Center for the Study of Community Health; Julie Preskitt, MSOT, MPH, PhD, University of Alabama, Birmingham and Tracye Strichik, EdS, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, August 6, 2015
(Think Progress)

Those who don’t have the opportunity to foster a literacy-friendly environment at home may have a chance to do so if lawmakers establish universal pre-kindergarten — an effort to make preschool available to all families, regardless of income level, location, or child’s abilities. The state-funded preschool programs would allow children from disadvantaged backgrounds to get the foundation needed to have a successful academic career.

The universal pre-K movement has gained traction around the country in recent years. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray unveiled plans for a four-year pilot program last month that would place more than 200 children in full-day preschool classes. Teachers in New York City’s universal pre-kindergarten program will receive $2,500 signing bonus and a $3,500 retention bonus as it goes into its second year.

Efforts to expand universal pre-kindergarten federally, however, have fizzled. Last year, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) introduced a proposal to fund universal early education, arguing that doing so would be an investment in America’s future. The bill, titled the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, hasn’t gone beyond introduction. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) also failed in his attempt to include an amendment to No Child Left Behind that would increase the number of children in universal pre-kindergarten programs via funds given directly to states and the closure of corporate tax inversion loopholes.

“When more children have access to pre-K, they actually can reach their full potential,” Gillibrand told NBC. “It means more working moms can stay in the workforce, providing for their children, staying on the path for their career success. And that’s good for our whole economy.”

Thursday, August 6, 2015

New research links storytelling ability among African-American preschoolers and the development of kindergarten reading skills.

“Previous research found an association between oral narratives and literacy at later stages of development,” says study leader Nicole Gardner-Neblett of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “But our findings suggest how important storytelling is for African-American children at the earliest stages.”

Gardner-Neblett explains that oral narrative skills emerge as early as age two and continue to develop as children engage in interactions with parents and others, who provide guidance and feedback. Although experts have suggested the importance of oral language skills on literacy during the preschool years, much of the research until now has focused on associations between early language and later reading outcomes in elementary school, leaving many unanswered questions.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015
(Chalkbeat Indiana)

The thousands of poor Indiana children who will attend new publicly funded preschool programs this year through Gov. Mike Pence’s state preschool pilot and an Indianapolis program sponsored by Mayor Greg Ballard all have one thing in common. They all must be legal U.S. residents.

Children who are in the country without permission aren’t welcome into either the state or Indianapolis preschool program. How can public schools be barred from excluding those kids while publicly funded preschool programs are free to do so? Indianapolis program leaders say they’re following the state’s lead. State officials say they’re following federal guidelines. And while federal law does, indeed, require schools to give all children fair and equal access to public education regardless of citizenship, the rule starts in kindergarten.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Black children represent about 18 percent of children in preschool programs, but they account for almost half of the preschoolers suspended more than once, according to a study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education.

"This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well documented among older students, but actually begin during preschool," then-Attorney General Eric Holder said upon the report's release. "Every data point represents a life impacted and a future potentially diverted or derailed."


Tuesday, August 4, 2015
(The Atlantic)

But many early-childhood teachers think about how to cultivate the next generation of “small-d democrats,” too. In my experience teaching children aged 3 through 6, I’ve found that early-childhood classrooms can serve as a natural cradle for democracy, as they’re typically where kids learn their first lessons about group membership. Young children are often fiercely curious about power and how it works: who makes the rules, and why. Qualitative evidence shows that children have the capacity to debate ideas, and to work together to solve problems that arise in the classroom (how many kids can play in the block area at a time, for example) and outside of it (how to improve a city park). What if young children had more opportunities to offer the general public some civics lessons of their own?

The country’s children continue to struggle with limited access to quality early-education opportunities: In the 2013-14 school year, just two in five 4-year-olds were in some sort of publicly funded prekindergarten, and many of those programs are considered low-quality, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Policymakers and children’s advocates have long debated the merits of pre-k, from its return on every dollar invested to whether it’s best to subsidize attendance for all kids or to just target low-income ones. But it seems that discussions in the U.S. seldom treat children as anything more than blank slates; they make little reference to these kids’ competencies and what they can offer as youngsters to society at large. For what it’s worth, the U.S. is the only United Nations country that hasn’t ratified a treaty of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which establishes that children should have the freedom of expression, among other rights, and says education should prepare children for “responsible life in a free society.”

Tuesday, August 4, 2015
(The Hechinger Report)

"It doesn't mean that Head Start is bad," or ineffective, said Michael Lopez, an early childhood expert at Abt Associates, a research firm that conducted some of the What Works Clearinghouse research as a sub-contractor. "My colleagues might shoot me. But I'm not sure everyone is in agreement that the only way to assess Head Start is through the most rigorous evaluations."

"We do know that there's a larger body of work that supports the benefits of early childhood education programs," he added, citing four other studies, including the famous Perry Preschool Study, which tracked students for 40 years after preschool. (The other three early childhood education studies were conducted in Chicago, Boston and Tulsa).

Lopez worked for the department in Health and Human Services that runs Head Start for 14 years, and he oversaw the research for Head Start. Indeed, he created and ran the 2010 Head Start Impact Study cited by the What Works Clearinghouse as the only Head Start study that met scientific rigor. "Of course, I was ecstatic that my report was recognized," he said. "But the bigger question is, what does this tell us?"

He explained that the What Works Clearinghouse seeks studies that resemble drug trials, where you randomly assign students to a treatment — in this case Head Start — and compare them to a control group that didn't get the treatment. Some researchers have refused to create a control group for ethical reasons. No one wants to ban a low-income family from giving their young children an education.

Monday, August 3, 2015
(The Seattle Times)

Preschools typically leave math for grade school, in the belief that 4- and 5-year-olds aren’t old enough to understand what 7 stands for. Decades of brain science now show that waiting is a mistake. . .

Even in the crib, research shows, infants can tell the difference between eight dots and 16 using an innate “number sense” we share with other species that helps us make some size comparisons without counting.

Monday, August 3, 2015
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

I worried about all the wrong things when my children were in preschool.
I came to this realization after spending four months observing preschool teachers toil through a difficult year with a few hard-to-manage students.

Eight years ago, my husband and I were entrenched in raising preschoolers. The 0-to-6-year-old dogma was drilled into us: This is peak brain-development time. Their physical safety and health, their general happiness and academic progress consumed much of my attention during those preschool years.

The latest research, however, suggests it’s the soft skills of social and emotional development that are strongly correlated with long-term academic and life success.

Friday, July 31, 2015
(Echo Press)

As Congress continues to work on next year’s federal spending measures, they need to remember the most valuable resource for the future of the economy and the country – children. At this time, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved their FY 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending measures. This legislation provides annual funding for essential child care and early child development programs.

Neither of the current bills would end the sequester, nor would they provide new funding to expand access to more children in need. Both chambers have also proposed big cuts to important health and education programs, and eliminated certain programs including Preschool Development Grants. These cuts impact America’s most vulnerable children, putting them at an even greater disadvantage to succeed. As it stands, many children could lose access to these programs if Congress does not restore funding before completing a final bill.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The things you do for your kids. When it comes to raising children, working parents need help. Childcare is the largest household expense for working parents of young children, with a national average annual cost of $18,000 for two children. That’s more than the $17,000 spent on housing or the $7,000 spent on food, according to the latest survey from Care.com. . .

To cover all those costs, parents are making budget cuts, taking second jobs, asking family and friends for help, or even going into debt. Nearly 1 in 4 couples fight about childcare costs. Nearly 70 percent of the of working parents said that the cost of childcare had influenced their career decisions, with 35 percent changing jobs to make more money and 24 percent taking a second job to help pay for it. Twenty six percent of respondents said they’d actually change jobs for better family benefits, and 89 percent wish their workplaces offered on-site care.

Thursday, July 30, 2015
(EdWeek )

Several charter schools in Hawaii are opening tuition-free preschool programs with the help of federal money.

Last December, the U.S. Department of Education gave Hawaii a $14.8 million preschool development grant to pay for pre-K programs for low-income children. The development grants, of which there were five total, were awarded to states with either small publicly-funded preschool programs or none at all. Thirteen additional states that have existing preschool programs were awarded expansion grants.    

Thursday, July 30, 2015
(Idaho Statesman)

The Boise School District is in its second summer of offering Kindergarten Readiness on its own, after the United Way of Treasure Valley funded a similar class for three years. The district is using $36,000 in taxpayer funds to teach 119 children at four elementary schools, said Ann Farris, district regional director for the Boise High School area The children are spending nearly four hours a day, five days a week, for four weeks ending Friday.

State law prohibits schools from spending state money on early childhood education. The Boise district gets its money through a local property tax that dates back to before Idaho was a state. Most Idaho school districts lack that taxing authority.

Thursday, July 30, 2015
(The Journal)

Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia have legislation that allows charter schools as well as state-funded preschool programs, and 32 of those jurisdictions have at least one charter school serving preschoolers, but state policies present a barrier to charter preschools in many jurisdictions, according to a new report from The Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

The report, "Charter Schools and Pre-K: Where State Policies Create Barriers to Collaboration," argues that charter preschools have the potential to improve educational outcomes for low-income students and identifies which states allow charter elementary schools to offer state-funded pre-kindergarten programs, how many charter schools serve preschoolers, and what barriers exist to prevent charter schools from offering pre-kindergarten programs.

Thursday, July 30, 2015
(CBS Moneywatch)

Interestingly, one of the first MOOCs that attempted to address the educational needs of preschoolers has hardly been studied. As economists Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine noted in recent research at the National Bureau of Economic Research: "In essence, Sesame Street was the first MOOC. Although MOOCs differ in what they entail, Sesame Street satisfies the basic feature of electronic transmission of online educational material. Both Sesame Street and MOOCs provide educational interventions at a fraction of the cost of more traditional classroom settings."

Their research attempts to do two things: examine whether MOOCs can improve educational outcomes, and assess the degree to which early intervention programs can promote student success later in life.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Day care centers offer developmental programs, and kindergarten schools provide instructive programs for specific age groups of children. The teacher-child ratio in day care centers varies depending on the age groups of the children. Most kindergarten programs have one certified teacher and one teacher assistant for each class group. In both types of programs, the teachers and other staff are required to maintain open communication with parents, and to inform parents of the progress and development of their children.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Common sense might suggest that the best early-childhood programs would do better financially. But a new study finds that providers in Southeastern Pennsylvania have little fiscal incentive to reach for high quality.

A Nonprofit Finance Fund study of nearly 150 early-care and education programs in the Philadelphia area found that all of them – no matter their quality rating – operate on razor-thin margins.

So for operators, it's more of a moral choice than a fiscal one to offer robust programming run by college-educated, certified teachers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
(National Journal)

At college career fairs around the country, eager business and finance majors don their best professional look and tote crisp copies of their resumes for a chance to be recruited by a Wall Street firm. But is Goldman Sachs leading an effort to start recruiting future analysts and stockbrokers in preschool?

Over the last several years, the investment-banking giant has thrown its weight—and millions of dollars—behind the expansion of preschool. Now, as the federal education law makes its way toward a reauthorization that for years seemed unlikely, advocates of universal preschool are hoping to convince lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that expansion of early childhood education is possible—even if it means joining forces with Wall Street.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

"There's a disconnect between our 21st century knowledge about early childhood teaching and these 20th century wages," says Phillips. "We desperately need educated young people to be working with young children, but they look at this job and say, 'It's a pathway to poverty. I can't pay my student loans if I do this.' " . . .  "Policymakers and the business community are all now turning to early childhood education as one of the best investments we can make," says Phillips. "But if you don't pay adequate wages, you undermine the very thing that produces that value."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
(New York Times (Opinion))

These findings add to a growing body of evidence — including long-term studies drawn from data in New Zealand and Britain — that have profound implications for educators. These studies suggest that if we want many more children to lead fulfilling and productive lives, it’s not enough for schools to focus exclusively on academics. Indeed, one of the most powerful and cost-effective interventions is to help children develop core social and emotional strengths like self-management, self-awareness and social awareness — strengths that are necessary for students to fully benefit from their education, and succeed in many other areas of life.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More than 11 million children under age 5 are in some form of child care in the United States, according to Child Care Aware of America's “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2014 Report.”

For those families, the average cost of center-based day care ticks in at $11,666 annually, or just short of $1,000 a month, reports the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies.

The numbers often equal or exceed other major expenses, including the cost of transportation, food and even rent or mortgage.

Monday, July 27, 2015
(The Daily Beast)

The importance of early education is not disputed. Eighty percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 3, and kids born into punishing environments, who aren’t talked to and read to, are 18 months behind their peers by age 4, “a gap that almost never is going to be made up,” says Mark Shriver, president of Save the Children Action Network, who considers access to quality preschool “the most important social justice question of the day.”

Politicians agree that quality preschool is good and perhaps even necessary. But when it comes to government picking up the tab, that’s where everyone falls silent except maybe Bernie Sanders, who would raise taxes to pay for lots of things. With Republicans controlling at least one chamber of Congress for the foreseeable future, if liberals want to see expanded preschool in their lifetime, they will have to get creative.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The latest version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, that’s before Congress more formally addresses early education and adds a competitive grant program to help states align their early education system with K-12 schools.

The U.S. Senate’s version of the bill, which passed with bipartisan support (81-17), “ensures that federal funds can be used for early education,” including support for preschool teachers and English learners. In the past, districts were able to use funds for low-income students, referred to as Title I funding under the ESEA, to provide programs for children from birth to age 5, but that ability was never formally stated in the law.