Volume 14, Issue 3

Friday, February 6, 2015

Hot Topics

In January’s State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted several initiatives meant to simplify child care for America families. The White House’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016, released on Monday, provides further insight into the costs and details of these proposed programs as well as additional areas of focus within the early childhood world. In a new blog, NIEER Policy Research Coordinator Megan Carolan highlights key proposals related to early childhood education, including expanding funding for the Preschool Development Grants, additional funding for childhood, and the expansion of the Child and Development Care Tax Credit. Presidential budgets such as this one can be viewed as a more a statement of values and priorities than a realistic legislative agenda. As CLASP responded, “The president’s budget proposal reflects up-to-date understanding of who families are today and what is holding them back. It puts child care needs, and other supports for working families, front and center—firmly grounded in the research on how to help families get ahead and what is important for young children’s success.” The Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation, looking at this budget in light of efforts to reauthorize the Education and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), offered a dose of pragmatism: “While it is far from given that Congress will be able to pass an update to ESEA that the President will actually sign, it seems equally unlikely that Congress will pass a budget by October that resembles this Budget Request for education.” Andy Smarick at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute was more blunt: “the GOP doesn’t see the wisdom in beefing up Uncle Sam’s role in early childhood programs. But this didn’t stop the administration from asking for more funding. The request for $1.5 billion more for Head Start and a $750 million increase for preschool probably won’t go very far.”  As policymakers respond to this budget proposal, two large questions loom: which of these proposals could significantly improve the quality of children’s early educational experiences? And what is the potential for bi-partisan support for such measures that would lead to their passage?

A recent report from Duke University researchers offers more evidence that investing in childhood education can increase school success, in this case reducing the likelihood of children being placed in special education in third grade. The study finds that long-term investments made in two early childhood initiatives in North Carolina significantly lowered the likelihood that children would be placed in special needs classrooms. This is consistent with a significant body of research indicating that quality pre-K can reduce special education placements and decrease grade retention, which can also significantly lower education spending for states. Of course, for some children, special education is essential for success, and state and local governments have a need to regularly evaluate and improve their systems for supporting young special needs children. The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA Center) has released their System Framework for Part C & Section 619 in order to provide states with assistance on evidence based practices for positive outcomes for children with disabilities. CEELO also has a recent paper highlighting the important role Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) can play in ensuring young children with special needs are receiving high quality, specialized support.

Governor Andrew Cuomo released his proposed budget for the 2015-2016 year this week. While the plan does include $25 million to expand enrollment for 3-year-olds in underserved communities, as the Center for Children’s Initiatives reports, “The Governor’s proposed budget includes no new funding for four-year-olds waiting for a full-day Pre-K seat.  Nor does it include any new funding for Child Care. Yet 62% of the state's four-year-olds promised a seat in full-day pre-K are still waiting for one, including 51,000 children in high need communities.” While much of the pre-K conversation in the Empire State has centered on New York City, a new report from a consortium of New York organizations makes clear that more investment is needed statewide to ensure children have access to pre-K. In 2014, Mayor de Blasio had initially proposed a City-specific tax to fund an expansion of full-day pre-K; but Governor Cuomo opposed the tax increase and instead proposed a 5-year plan with state funding. The final budget included $340 million for pre-K statewide. The budget comes as New York City prepares for a streamlined application process for the pre-K program beginning in March and as Mayor de Blasio highlights the expansion of pre-K in the city as an accomplishment in his State of the City address.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

http://preschoolmatters.org/2015/01/30/healthy-preschool-habits-can-last-a-lifetime/

In January’s State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted several initiatives meant to simplify child care for America families. The White House’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016, released on Monday, provides further insight into the costs and details of proposed programs as well as additional areas of focus within the early childhood world. In this blog, NIEER/CEELO Policy Research Coordinator Megan Carolan examines key early learning proposals in the President's budget.

By the end of January, gyms are slowly becoming less crowded, as many adults give up on their resolutions to lose weight or get in shape. But a healthy weight and staying active remain important for all ages throughout the year. In a new blog, NIEER/CEELO Policy Research Coordinator Megan Carolan highlights the importance of healthy habits for children beginning in preschool.

Resources

You can keep track of recent developments in your state by searching Early Education in the News, focusing on specific topics or within defined time periods. It's a terrific way to keep your finger on the pulse of what news media are reporting in your state.

Impact of North Carolina’s Early Childhood Initiatives on Special Education Placements in Third Grade

This study shows significant reductions in special education placements in third grade for children engaged in North Carolina’s early childhood initiatives.

 

Health and Welfare in Midlife Affected by Early Childhood

A recent study shows long-term impacts on health, income, and welfare are linked to early childhood trauma. 

Washington State Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge 2015 Evaluation Report

EDC and the BUILD Initiative released a report documenting stakeholders' perceptions of the early impact of the RTT-ELC on Washington State. The Executive Summary is also available.

 

Pre-K Our Way initiative in New Jersey

The Pre-K Our Way initiative in New Jersey highlights the importance of preschool to children and the state, and how anyone can get involved in making a difference. 

Best practices for Dual-Language Learners

California’s Best Practices for Young Dual Language Learners: Research Overview Papers was prepared under the direction of the Child Development Division, California Department of Education (CDE), for the State Advisory Council on Early Learning and Care.

Early Childhood Teacher Certification: The current state policies landscape and opportunities

New state profiles compiled by NAEYC present a snapshot of information on state certificates/licenses and endorsements in early childhood. The profiles describe the age and grade bands, but not the content of the certificates or the teacher preparation programs in the states that lead to licensure. The list and names of certificates cover “general” and “special education,” but not content-specific endorsements such as science, reading, or specific disability categories. Key findings can be viewed here.

Early childhood in ESEA letter

As Congress continues to debate the future of a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), this 2010 consensus letter (which includes First Focus Campaign for Children, the Foundation for Child Development, the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS-SDE), and the New America Foundation) highlights considerations for ensuring early childhood education is addressed in a reauthorized ESEA.

The National Institute for Early Education Research is seeking Data Collectors to train to administer standard preschool evaluation measures (child assessment as well as classroom observation instruments). Positions will be available nationwide and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. ​Pay is competitive and travel reimbursement is provided.

Requirements:

Applicants should be graduate students, have a BA, or be non-freshman undergraduate students with a focus on child development, early childhood, psychology, or a related field. Also:

  • Knowledgeable about child development and developmentally appropriate early childhood teaching practices (e.g. Teacher) preferred.
  • Experience in classroom settings and/or working with children highly preferred.
  • Must be available to work 2-3x per week during data collection period; days are flexible.
  • Must be available to attend intensive, full-day trainings that vary between 2 days and a full week.
  • The successful candidate is expected to demonstrate an excellent academic record (GPA should be 3.0 or better).
  • Must have reliable transportation.
  • Spanish speakers needed!

Details are available here. To apply please send a letter of interest, resume/curriculum vita, unofficial transcript (if currently a student), and the names of two references. Submit these to Carol Contreras, at ccontreras@nieer.org. Please include the phrase “Data Collector” in your subject line. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis.

CEELO Update

Today, at the 2015 National Title I Conference , Jana Martella of CEELO, joined Libby Doggett,  Lenay Dunn, and Carlas McCauley in presenting Early Learning as a School Improvement Intervention, an “overview as to how early learning strategies can improve achievement as a school improvement intervention. Also, key research on the impact of high quality early learning programs will be presented.” The Policy Report on Integrating Early Learning Strategies in the SIG program, a related resource, is available here

CEELO’S Directory of State Early Learning Contacts continues to be useful and relevant as a one-stop resource to connect state leaders in the birth through third grade system. Recognizing that the information in the directory isn’t static, CEELO re-verifies and re-publishes the Directory each year to ensure the information is current. In December 2014, the contacts in each state received an e-mail requesting a review of their state information. Updates were compiled and changes were entered to create this latest iteration of the Directory. If you know of changes or corrections, please forward these to info@ceelo.org

The CEELO Leadership Academy is meeting February 4-5. Those interested can view this month's agenda; see the agenda and presentations from the December meeting; and check out what the fellows are reading on leadership here

The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO), along with the Center on School Turnaround, released case studies exploring how School Improvement Grant (SIG) winners were incorporating the early grades into their efforts.

Jana Martella and Lori Connors-Tadros of CEELO participated in the National Advisory Committee for the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA Center) developing a framework to assist states in supporting implementation of practices leading to positive outcomes for children with disabilities. 

Calendar

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 1:00pm to Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - 1:00pm

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Education invite you to join this four-part webinar series on the prevention of expulsion and suspension practices in early learning settings. The series will feature key experts from across the country who have done work on different aspects of the issue, including policy, research and data, and prevention/intervention. Please RSVP for each individual webinar at its respective link. 

Basic Research, Data Trends, and the Pillars of Prevention
February 11, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. eastern time: Registration 

Establishing Federal, State, and Local Policies
February 18, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. eastern time: Registration 

Program Quality and Professional Development: A Look at Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation and Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support Systems Through Diversity-Informed Tenets
February 251:00 – 2:00 p.m. eastern time: Registration 

Using Data Systems To Track and Reduce Expulsion and Suspension
March 41:00 – 2:00 p.m. eastern time: Registration

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 -
3:00pm to 4:30pm

In this webinar, we will explore what a high-quality classroom experience should include (from a practicing teacher's perspective); understand how a focus on high-quality full-day kindergarten is enhanced by ensuring it is coordinated and connected to what comes before and after (district's perspective); review full-day kindergarten policy across the country; and critically examine the research.

Monday, March 2, 2015 - 3:00pm

This webinar presented by The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS-SDE) will focus on offering offers principals, teachers, family members, and others best practices, relevant resources, and indicators to guide new efforts to align early care and education with early elementary grades. Additional resources include a CEELO FastFact, Preparing Principals to Support Early Childhood Teachers and the NAESP Leading Learning Communities: Executive Summary.

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

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

Thursday, March 19, 2015 - 8:00am to Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 5:00pm

Join SRCD for its biennial meeting, including presentations from NIEER Researchers:

Friday, March 20

Paper Symposium: Integrated School Readiness Interventions
Paper title: C4L (Connect4Learning): Interdisciplinary early childhood education—math, science, literacy, and social-emotional development. 
Authors: 
Mary Louise Hemmeter; Doug Clements; Julie Sarama; Nell K. Duke; Kimberly Brenneman (NIEER/EC STEM Lab)
9:55am to 11:25am, Marriott, Franklin Hall 2

Poster Session
Poster Title: Preliminary validity and reliability evidence for a Spanish-language version of an early oral language tool using narrative retell 
Authors: Rita Flórez-Romero, Universidad Nacional de Colombia; Alissa Lange, NIEER/EC STEM Lab; Nicolás Arias-Velandia, Universidad Nacional de Colombia; 
5:20pm to 6:35pm, Penn CC, Exhibit Hall A on Board # 137

Saturday March 21

Paper Symposium: Comparing Effectiveness of Head Start and Pre-K Programs
Paper: Head Start and State Pre-K: How Comparable Are They with Respect to Inputs and Outputs?
Authors: W. Steven Barnett, NIEER Director; Min-Jong Youn, NIEER; Ellen Frede, Gates Foundation
8:00 to 9:30am, Penn CC, 100 Level, Room 103B

Paper Symposium: Math games: How simple math interventions interact with child and adult language to improve outcomes for young children
Chair: Alissa Lange, NIEER/EC STEM Lab
Using Number Games to Support Mathematical Learning in Preschool and Home Environments, by Alissa Lange; Kimberly Brenneman; Hebbah El-Moslimany, NIEER/EC STEM Lab
8:00am to 9:30am, Marriott, Franklin Hall 7

Poster Symposium: Innovations in early childhood STEM curriculum and professional development.  
Kimberly Brenneman will chair the symposim. She will also be part of a presentation at the symposium:
McWayne, C., Mistry, J., Greenfield, D., Brenneman, K., Zan B.  (2015, March). Partnerships for early childhood curriculum development: Readiness through Integrative Science and Engineering (RISE). 
1:55 to 3:25pm, Penn CC, 100 Level, Room 107B.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 11:30am to Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 2:30pm

Join experts and fellow school district leaders from across the country for a two-day summit on best practices and strategies for aligning education from birth through 3rd grade. The District Leadership Summit is an outgrowth of the Birth-to-College Collaborative funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, and the Foundation for Child Development.

Friday, May 15, 2015 - 8:00am

Presented by Shannon Riley-Ayers and Vincent Costanza, NIEER and New Jersey Department of Education.

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. 

Early Education News Roundup

Friday, February 6, 2015
(MPR News)

After making free all-day kindergarten available around the state, Gov. Mark Dayton wants to spend more than $100 million on preschool programs for 4-year-olds in public schools. The governor's plan is backed by the state teachers' union, Education Minnesota. But some early education groups and experts are skeptical, which may not bode well for Dayton in the Legislature. . . 

Dayton's budget preserves the scholarship program, but it doesn't increase funding for it. Instead, the state would cover half the cost for public schools that volunteer to expand or start a preschool program for four-year-olds. Schools also would be eligible for additional state money for things like transportation. And parents wouldn't pay anything for their children to attend.

Thursday, February 5, 2015
(MinnPost)

Following a dozen years of painstaking groundwork by its advocates, early childhood education is finally a marquee item on Minnesota’s political agenda. There is a surplus of at least $1 billion on the table. Gov. Mark Dayton and his Capitol partisans have declared education their top priority when it comes to spending it and preschoolers the first kids in line.

Thursday, February 5, 2015
(Chalkbeat New York)

The city’s two pre-kindergarten admissions processes will become one this year. Parents will apply to pre-K programs in district schools and in community organizations using one application with a single deadline this year, Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced Thursday. Officials said the new process would be simpler for parents, whom officials urged to apply to district and community-based pre-K programs separately last year. The change comes as the city prepares to add another 17,000 full-day pre-K seats this fall, and reflects the city’s desire to create a pre-K system that feels like a unified whole. (Most of the pre-K seats are available in community-based organizations, not district schools, and those organizations have more leeway aroundteacher pay and certification requirements and last year had later application deadlines.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
(Washington Post)

D.C. Council member David Grosso’s first bill as Education Committee chairman — seeking a partial ban on suspensions and expulsions of preschool students in public programs — got a strong response from advocates who urged him to push for more sweeping reforms of student discipline practices.

Most of the school leaders, parents and education advocates at a hearing Wednesday welcomed his effort to curb harsh discipline in students’ earliest years, when they are beginning to learn appropriate social behavior. But they said it’s a drop in the bucket.

“We must acknowledge that this is just one step to ending the school-to-prison pipeline,” said Maggie Riden, executive director of D.C. Alliance of Youth Advocates.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
(nprEd)

Attending state-funded prekindergarten substantially reduces the likelihood that students will end up in special education programs later on, according to a new study by researchers at Duke University. The study examined 13 years' worth of data from students enrolled in More at Four, a state-funded program for 4-year-olds in North Carolina. By the third grade, the researchers found, children in the program were 32 percent less likely to end up in a special education program. Children who were part of Smart Start, a health services program, saw a 10 percent drop. Combined, the two programs accounted for a 39 percent reduction.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
(Science Newsline)

Access to state-supported early childhood programs significantly reduces the likelihood that children will be placed in special education in the third grade, academically benefiting students and resulting in considerable cost savings to school districts, according to new research published today in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

The findings suggest that the programs provide direct benefits not only to participating students but also to other third graders through positive spillover effects.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
(Los Alamos Daily Post)

Today, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced that he has joined several senators in introducing legislation to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five.

The Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act helps more kids arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed by establishing a federal-state partnership that incentivizes states to improve the quality of their preschool programs and expand to serve more children in need.  

“Investing in our children’s education from a young age pays off — not just by making sure every child is ready for kindergarten, but by laying the foundation that ensures they grow up ready to succeed in the 21st-century economy,” Udall said.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015
(Washington Post)

High-quality early childhood programs can reduce the number of children diagnosed with certain learning disabilities by third grade, according to a study published Tuesday in the Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis journal.

The study, conducted by Clara G. Muschkin, Helen F. Ladd and Kenneth A. Dodge of Duke University, could have significant implications for reducing the financial burden special education services place on municipal budgets.

The researchers explored how two early childhood initiatives in North Carolina affected the likelihood that children would be placed in special education by the end of third grade. It focused on a preschool program for four-year-olds from at-risk families and a program that provides child, family, and health services for children from birth through age five. The study tracked 871,000 children who were born between 1988 and 2000 and were enrolled in third grade between 1995 and 2010.

Children who participated in the More at Four preschool program, now called NC Pre-K, were 32 percent less likely to be placed in special education by third grade, compared to peers who did not participate in the preschool program, the study found.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015
(Enquirer-Herald)

While she has promoted similar issues for years, Murray will be in prime position to try shepherd the president’s plans through Congress as the new top-ranked Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. . .
A study released in May by the National Institute For Early Education Research ranked Washington state “far below average” in access to preschool, 32nd among states for enrolling 8 percent of 4-year-olds and 20th among states for enrolling 1 percent of 3-year-olds. But Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute For Early Education Research, said preschool education has become a bipartisan issue in many states, with Republicans often leading the call for more spending. He said that how much the new Congress will spend on preschool could depend on the level of lobbying that Republicans on Capitol Hill receive from state and local leaders in their own party. “I do think they want more at the state level,” Barnett said.
 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015
(The Patriot-News)

To me, there is no doubt that an early childhood education provides students with a solid foundation for the rest of their educational career and into adulthood. There is no greater frustration for me and my fellow educators than to see young children pass through those formative years with no access to early childhood education. The first five years of a child's life are crucial with 90 percent of brain development occurring. What they learn and experience during those first five years will build the foundation of their emotional, social, and educational success for the rest of their lives. We should be doing everything we can to ensure that all children have access to a high-quality pre-k education to build that solid foundation. That's why I support Pre-K for PA.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015
(Chicago Tribune)

Universal preschool isn't a new proposal for Obama — he's has been talking about it since 2013 (related debates over universal child care in America also go back decades). Pre-K has become a rallying cry for liberals from Seattle to New York who believe that investing in young children from poor families may be the best way to narrow inequality as they grow up (it's also a good way to make it easier for their parents to work in the present). Beyond inequality, though, there are a lot of arguments for backing universal Pre-K, many of which aren't particularly lefty. Early childhood education, for starters, is one of the most efficient places we can investment public money, with broad implications for the costs of social services that have seemingly little to do with school. If you don't want to spend a lot on incarceration or welfare or Medicaid, you should spend money on preschool.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015
(Aljazeera)

More than any other president, Obama has thrown his rhetorical weight behind the unmet demands of the 1970s women’s movement such as equal pay, child care access and paid family and sick leave. His new plan includes a comprehensive but individually modest menu of benefits for children and parents — those living near the poverty line as well as households with six-figure earnings. It reflects the reality that most women, especially at lower levels of income and educational attainment, work inside and outside the home. 

The White House budget puts an unprecedented focus on parenting supports, from birth to kindergarten. It starts with the fact that the United States is alone among developed countries in providing no government-mandated paid parental, sick or family leave to workers. Obama would set aside $2 billion to reimburse five states for the costs of implementing paid leave, building on a trend of similar local programs.

Monday, February 2, 2015
(The Root)

Part of the problem: A lot of baby-boomer-age white male policymakers aren't prioritizing it. And, unlike many other hot topics, child care isn't polling. That's slowly changing, though. But a confluence of willful politician ignorance, a focus on corporate agendas and our tough-it-out, good, old-fashioned American indifference mutes any national outrage. POTUS was spot on for bringing it up—even if it was a clever pre-2016 Democratic play for lost white female voters. But let's stop acting cute about this, as if we've got Kanye-and-Kim-size wallets. Most parents, especially underserved parents of color, know how damn high the child care is. Clearly, it's a crisis: On average, 63 percent of families are spending nearly $12,000 a year on day care, according to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. And whether your child receives quality care each workday is up for debate. Day care is like a bankrupting dress rehearsal for college. 

Flabbergasted, The Take turned to several leading experts in child care policy to see if the president's proposal hit the mark ... and to find out  if we can hope to see any relief anytime soon.

Monday, February 2, 2015
(Springfield News-Leader)

Gov. Jay Nixon has repeatedly described high quality preschool programs as a great investment for the state while proposing millions in additional funding for early childhood efforts. But Nixon has short-changed his own proposals by cutting funding approved by the Legislature for such programs, because he says the state doesn't have enough revenue to do what he would like. "We don't have the money. There's a big difference between what's in a budget and what's in a bank account," Nixon said last week. "Early childhood is important, and as the economy gets moving forward we'd love nothing more than to get those dollars out there."

Monday, February 2, 2015
(Washington Post )

Beyond inequality, though, there are a lot of arguments for backing universal Pre-K, many of which aren't particularly lefty. Early childhood education, for starters, is one of the most efficient places we can investment public money, with broad implications for the costs of social services that have seemingly little to do with school. If you don't want to spend a lot on incarceration or welfare or Medicaid, you should spend money on preschool.

Monday, February 2, 2015
(Omaha World-Herald)

Six Omaha-area school districts will serve as test beds next year for a new concept in early childhood education that school superintendents hail as rare, innovative and the best hope for lifting kids out of poverty.

Details of the plan released today show that the comprehensive program of birth-to-age-8 interventions will be launched at 10 sites serving 12 schools in the Omaha, Millard, Bellevue, Douglas County West, Westside and Ralston districts. At all the schools, at least half of students are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch.

The program will combine home visits for children from birth to age 3, high-quality preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, and a consistent curriculum and support for children in kindergarten through third grade.

Monday, February 2, 2015
(Education News)

President Barack Obama’s proposal for the fiscal 2016 budget includes $70.7 billion for the Department of Education, which would be a $3.6 billion increase from the current level of funding.Obama is also asking for $750 million for preschool development grants.  Previously, the program received only $250 million.  He would like to see $1.5 billion in funding given to the federal Head Start program that offers additional support for young children. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015
(The Huffington Post)

Obama’s goal is to transform government policies for early childhood. Two weeks ago, Obama sketched out his agenda during the State of the Union address, calling for a series of programs including “universal childcare,” as well as paid family and medical leave for working parents. On Monday, Obama will translate these words into specific requests for action when the administration formally releases its budget proposal for the next 10 years. Obama’s budget will call for a set of targeted tax breaks and spending initiatives for working families that would represent a commitment of more than $200 billion over 10 years, according to sources familiar with the budget document. (The total would be even more if you include a separate tax cut for families with two working adults, although that particular break won’t be limited to families with children.)

Saturday, January 31, 2015
(Augusta Free Press)

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine introduced the Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act, legislation to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five. The PRE-K Act will help more kids enter kindergarten ready to succeed by establishing federal-state partnerships that incentivize states to both improve the quality of state preschool programs and expand those programs to serve more children in need. “Expanding access to early childhood education helps close the achievement gap and prepare students for a lifetime of learning,” said Senator Kaine, who expanded the Virginia Preschool Initiative as Governor. “To keep our economy strong, we need a long-term plan that produces the best workforce in the world. A key step in growing our talented workforce is ensuring that all children are prepared to enter school ready to learn. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015
(News-Graphic)

Last year, 49,089 kindergarten students entered Kentucky public schools. A test their teachers gave them in the first weeks of school showed that only half had the basic skills needed to learn at the kindergarten level. That’s up just 1 percentage point from the previous year. When half of Kentucky’s children are not ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, you can bet that great pressure is placed on a range of taxpayer-funded agencies. Some of these students will catch up and succeed, but many will struggle throughout school because they can never make up ground that was lost when they were infants and toddlers. 

Friday, January 30, 2015
(Courier-Post)

Short-term, children attending full-day kindergarten programs tend to do better in school than those in half day, and show stronger academic gains and social development, according to studies provided by the state Department of Education. Full-day programs result in more time devoted to reading, mathematics and social studies. Research is inconclusive on long-term impacts, the DOE indicated. . . 

Teachers have to accomplish much more today in kindergarten than in the past and this requires more time, not just in the classroom but for planning, said Dr. W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. "Also, some children will not go to kindergarten if it is only half day because their parents can't handle the mid-day transition to child care, and this creates problems, particularly for low-income and immigrant children who will be behind because they did not go to kindergarten," he added.

Thursday, January 29, 2015
(Independent Record)

Gov. Steve Bullock is urging the Montana Legislature to join 44 other states in funding preschool programs.

Bullock is giving the biennial State of the State address at the Capitol in Helena Wednesday evening.

The Democratic governor is calling on the Republican-led Legislature to back his $37 million plan to provide funding for 4-year-olds to attend preschool.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

In Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address, he stressed the importance of early childhood education, especially from the “prenatal to third grade” years, and committed his administration to focusing upon early education in his second term. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) champions efforts that put children front and center, and we applaud the governor’s support for early childhood education.

In 2013-2014, according to the Michigan Department of Education, only 61 percent of Michigan students were proficient readers in third grade. Among children of color, only 37 percent of African-American and 47 percent of Hispanic students were proficient. This reality motivates WKKF to partner with community leaders, teachers, parents, businesses and philanthropy to find the most effective, equitable and high quality approaches in response.

Thursday, January 29, 2015
(The Atlantic)

Terms such as "babysitter," "caregiver," or "daycare provider" are too often the words that pop into people’s heads when they think of an adult who teaches very young children. And their pay is too often at the bottom of the income ladder, with salaries near $10 per hour. In fact, many adults working in child-care centers and other early-childhood programs make about $1 more than fast-food cooks and less than animal caretakers, according to a recent report by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley.

This undervaluing of work is not just the case for infant and toddler teachers and assistants. Pre-k teachers, for instance, earn 40 percent less than kindergarten teachers, even though the demands of the job—and the education and training required—can be nearly identical. Research shows that these teachers matter a lot. The adults working in early-childhood programs set the foundation for future learning, developing essential knowledge in their young students as well as the skills, habits, and mindsets children need to succeed later in school and flourish in life. And the quality of interactions between teachers and children is especially important when it comes to sustaining the gains children make in pre-k programs.

Thursday, January 29, 2015
(Michigan Radio)

More than 21,000 4 year olds have been enrolled in free preschool in Michigan over the past two years, according to Ron French at Bridge Magazine. It's the result of the biggest pre-school expansion in the nation. In 2012, a Bridge investigation found that about 30,000 pre-school aged kids that qualified for free preschool were not attending due to lack of funding, logistical issues or lack of transportation services. In 2013, Michigan increased preschool funding for low to middle income families, called the Great Start Readiness Program. The program got more funding in 2014. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015
(The Huffington Post [Op-Ed])

President Obama used his penultimate State of the Union to call for a significant expansion in college access and increased investments in early childhood. This follows his administration's efforts in the last two years to increase funding and investments in high quality preschool and early learning opportunities. Given the correlation between educational achievement and a child's access to high-quality early childhood education, every sector should support better learning opportunities for our children to ensure our economic competitiveness down the road. Early education opportunities are critical to lifelong success. The first three years of childhood are a period of extraordinarily rapid brain development. Several studieshave documented significant cognitive gains for children who attend Pre-K programs. Furthermore, research has shown that students who attended Pre-K and kindergarten are more likely to have higher reading and extrapolation skills by the third grade than students who did not. This is key, considering third grade tests scores are a remarkably accurate indicator of whether or not a child will go to college.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
(FoxMontana)

Legislators anticipate Governor Bullock will tout the piece of legislation focusing on early childhood education that he introduced called Early Edge Montana. The program aims to achieve free public pre-k for four-year-old children.

Teaching experts say one of the fundamental building blocks of an education and a child's successful learning experience starts in a pre-school classroom. Developing social skills and getting a head start on education is what pre-school is for.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
(Military Times)

Military families can search for military child care availability and sign up for waiting lists online through a new Defense Department program that's gradually being rolled out worldwide.

DoD officials have launched MilitaryChildCare.com at 13 installations beyond the five previous pilot locations. It's expected to be operational worldwide by September 2016, with more installations coming online each quarter, officials said.

Monday, January 26, 2015
(Philadelphia Inquirer)

A new nonprofit, whose leaders include some state heavy-hitters, will launch a three-year campaign this week to expand New Jersey's quality preschool program to children in need throughout the state.

Pre-K Our Way will launch its initiative with an informational event Tuesday at the Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick.

Its leadership group includes former Govs. James J. Florio, a Democrat, and Thomas H. Kean, a Republican; former first lady and schoolteacher Lucinda Florio; Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey; William J. Marino, former chairman and CEO of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey; Douglas L. Kennedy, president and CEO of Peapack-Gladstone Bank; and Lynda Anderson-Towns, superintendent of the Woodbine School District.

A chief organizer of the effort and, for now, primary funder is M. Brian Maher, philanthropist and former chairman of Maher Terminals L.L.C.

Monday, January 26, 2015
(The Hill)

Clearly, providing early learning opportunities for at-risk children has become not only a focal point for lawmakers, but a shared national commitment. And Washington State is leading the way with the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), modeled on Head Start. Based on evidence that most successful early learning programs are those that replicate Head Start’s comprehensive approach to the whole child and the whole family, ECEAP works hand-in-hand with local Head Start programs to expand access to high quality early learning to Washington’s most vulnerable children.

Monday, January 26, 2015
(Washington Post)

More than 25 percent of the students enrolled in Head Start programs in D.C. Public Schools were chronically absent last school year, missing at least 10 percent or the equivalent of a month or more, according to two reports the Urban Institute plans to release Tuesday.

Seven percent of the students missed 20 percent or more of enrolled days.

Overall, less than half — 44 percent — of the school system’s Head Start students had what one report called “satisfactory attendance,” which is missing 5 percent or less of the school year.

Monday, January 26, 2015
(Chalkbeat Colorado)

The House Education Committee on Monday passed two bills intended to increase funding for both preschool and full-day kindergarten, but the discussion highlighted differences over which program should have the highest priority.

House Bill 15-1020, a measure that would increase state financial support of full-day kindergarten, passed 10-1, with only one Republican voting no. But House Bill 15-1024, which would provide more funding for the Colorado Preschool Program, only passed on a 6-5 party-line vote, with majority Democrats on the winning side.

The two issues consumed much of a hearing that lasted more than six hours.

Monday, January 26, 2015
(Michigan Live)

A former state lawmaker was honored Monday, Jan. 26, as an advocate for early childhood development programs in Michigan. . . . The former state senator, state representative and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee was chosen because he was "a tireless advocate" for early childhood education, according to local Great Start Collaborative Director Julie Kozan.