Volume 14, Issue 7

Friday, April 3, 2015

Hot Topics

In case you missed it, NIEER has started a blog forum about concerns related to Common Core State Standards in early childhood education. The first three responses have included attention to play and rich experience in early childhood programs, a question about literacy and focus on drill-and-kill teaching, and issues around the complexity of standards. The National Journal is also blogging this week about the Common Core, and qualified early indications on effectiveness showing slight upticks in math and reading scores. Next week we’ll be hearing more about the Common Core from other experts, regarding parent perspectives, teacher views on assessment, and more.

The National Head Start Conference and Expo was held this week, marking the 50th anniversary of this extensive program. Thomas Schultz from CEELO co-presented at the conference, on Linking Head Start Data with State Early Childhood Systems. The Yale News featured an article about Head Start founder Ed Zigler, including comments from Walter Gilliam, the current director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale. That article cited the comments of one of Zigler’s surgeon’s--a Head Start graduate. Brenda Casselius, Minnesota Education Commissioner, authored an article in the Minnesota Star about how Head Start has changed her life and has the potential to improve outcomes for children and families. While Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, Angel Taveras, discussed his Head Start experience often, and encouraged expansion of the program in the city and state. 

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

As part of an ongoing series of interviews with leaders in early childhood education, CEELO spoke with Vincent Costanza, Executive Director, Race to the Top--Early Learning Challenge at the New Jersey Department of Education. In this blog post he discusses the process of developing guidelines for Preschool-to-Grade 3 program implementation and best practice in New Jersey.

There’s been lots of discussion about the Common Core State Standards recently, and their impact on classroom activity and child outcomes. We're kicking off a blog forum to discuss common concerns about the CCSS, and we'll have experts address the issues over the next few weeks. Please join the discussion on the blog and @PreschoolToday on Twitter.

In the first response on our forum on Common Core State Standards, Kathleen A. Paciga, Columbia College Chicago;  Jessica L. Hoffman, Winton Woods City School District; and William H. Teale, University of Illinois at Chicago, respond to the concern that Rigorous standards may lead to reduced play and rich activity in preschool and Kindergarten classrooms, noting that "the CCSS don’t say we should exclude the play." 

Kathleen A. Paciga, Jessica L. Hoffman, and William H. Teale, offer their perspectives again on the concern that Literacy instruction may become limited to a few texts and drill-and-kill teaching.

In their final response in this series Kathleen A. Paciga, Jessica L. Hoffman, and William H. Teale, University of Illinois at Chicago, weigh in on this issue: The standards are complex and extensive, and there is little guidance for teachers to implement them in Kindergarten classrooms. There are more discussions coming, please visit the blog again next week.

Resources

Database and report on DLL policies

At New America EdCentral Conor Williams discusses a new database from ECS including state Dual Language Learner policies, along with a report examining policies in more detail.

Pre-K Children outpace expectations through Kindergarten

FPG Child Development Institute has published an evaluation of the NC Pre-K program, indicating that children who have participated show increased learning gains across all areas through the end of Kindergarten.

Developing an effective QRIS

Research Connections shared Child TrendsBlueprint for Early Care and Education Quality Initiatives, addressing issues related to developing and implementing quality initiatives for early education programs.

Research-based knowledge about transitioning to kindergarten

BUILD ECE highlighted a report by the Harvard Family Research Project outlining four important things to know about transitions to preschool.

Math skills in the early childhood workforce

NIEER Research Fellow Sharon Ryan was one author of a report from Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment on strengthening the math-related teaching practices of the early education workforce, cited in the BUILD ECE newsletter.

Transforming the B-8 workforce

April 1 marked the release by The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and The National Research Council (NRC) of the report, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth to Age Eight: A Unifying Foundation, authored by the Committee on the Science of Children Birth to Age Eight: Deepening and Broadening the Foundation for Success. View the webcast here.

PD for early childhood educators

A recent study by Rachel Schachter reviewed the research on professional development for early childhood educators. Not surprisingly most of the focus was on language and literacy, but it is remarkable that few studies focused on math and only one on science. Those interested in how professional development might be improved, beyond expanding the domains of learning and teaching addressed, should find both the studies reviewed and the conclusions regarding innovative formats for delivering professional development of interest.

CEELO Update

NIEER/CEELO Senior Fellow Jim Squires presented "Financing of State-funded Pre-K Programs: National and Regional Perspectives" to the Early Childhood Subcommittee of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal's Education Reform Commission in Atlanta on March 26. The subcommittee is working with the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) to develop recommendations for increasing access to and participation in high-quality early learning programs. Georgia's 22-year-old state-funded pre-K program has served as a model for many state-funded pre-K programs. 

This annotated bibliography identifies selected resources on best practices and policy to support effective teaching and learning for dual language learners (DLL) in early childhood programs and early elementary school.

CEELO Staff presented at the Indistar Summit last week and slides from the presentation are now available: Early Education Indicators and School Improvement Grant Implications.

Linking Head Start Data with State Early Childhood Systems provides an overview of the Early Childhood Data Collaborate issue brief and offers perspectives from two states (GA, PA) on their data linkage efforts. CEELO Senior Scientist Tom Schultz gave this presentation at the National Head Start Association Annual Conference on April 1, 2015.

Calendar

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 2:00pm

Over the past decade, public investments in early childhood education have increased, and policymakers have focused on creating high-quality, sustainable preschool programs. However, largely missing from early childhood policy discussions is consideration of classroom diversity and how it affects the equity, quality, and sustainability of preschool programs. Studies have shown that socioeconomically and racially diverse preschool classrooms offer important cognitive and social benefits for children, but few children enrolled in public preschool programs have access to these types of classrooms.

Join us on April 29 to hear what we know about racial and economic diversity in Head Start and state pre-K classrooms, how diversity and quality are linked, and what steps policymakers can take to increase diversity in preschool classrooms.

Opening Remarks:

  • Mark Zuckerman, President, The Century Foundation
  • U.S. Congressman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-VA), Ranking Democratic Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce

Panel Discussion:

  • Jeanne L. Reid, research scientist, National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University; co-author (with Sharon Lynn Kagan) of A Better Start
  • Michael Hilton, Policy Analyst, Poverty & Race Research Action Council; contributor to A Better Start
  • Halley Potter, Fellow, The Century Foundation; contributor to A Better Start
  • Philip Tegeler, Executive Director, Poverty & Race Research Action Council (moderator)

Research for A Better Start was supported by The Century Foundation and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and led by Jeanne L. Reid and Sharon Lynn Kagan of the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University.

For more information about this event, please contact events@tcf.org.

 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - 8:00am to Thursday, May 14, 2015 - 12:30pm

The Inclusion Institute, presented by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG), is the premier event for people from all early childhood sectors to come together to learn, share, and problem-solve about inclusion for young children. This year's theme is Implementing Quality Inclusion Practices:  Supporting People, Programs, and Policies.

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, April 3, 2015
(Courier-Post)

Lucinda and I share a passion for the power of education — early education in particular. As a former governor, I was always concerned about making the best possible investments in education because I saw what it could do to create opportunity for individuals and prosperity for our state. As a former preschool and elementary school teacher, Lucinda would add that we can never start too early and that too many children would be held back if we did too little too late.

Like most people in New Jersey, I was concerned about having the best possible K-12 education system. But Lucinda kept reminding me that our schools were only as good as the talent that went into them, and we had to pay more attention to — preschool to get the most out of our investments in schooling. As with most things, Lucinda was right and still is. . . 

Research by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University shows that children who have had access to high-quality preschool have a 20 to 40 percent increase in elementary school test scores and are 40 percent less likely to stay back a grade than students who did not have access to preschool. By fourth or fifth grade, these children are three-quarters of an academic year ahead of students who did not attend a quality preschool and are also less likely to require special education.

Friday, April 3, 2015
(BusinessNH)

The buzz around universal preschool and the role of early childhood education to the future workforce pipeline has never been louder. The White House has made universal preschool and improving the quality of child care programs a priority. And federal funds aimed at furthering early learning initiatives—Race to the Top: Early Learning Challenge grant and the Preschool Development Grants Program—have poured millions into all but one of the New England states in the past two years. Yes, that would be NH. . .

“Other states spend more on Head Start and invest more in early supports and services,” says Laura Milliken, director of Spark NH, an early childhood advisory council. “In New Hampshire, [Headstart] is largely funded by federal dollars, and in other states it is supplemented by state money.”

Cowell says the cut cost the state the Race to the Top grant in 2013 (NH had requested $37.5 million over four years), and the state’s failure to restore that level in the last biennium budget cost NH the Preschool Development grant.

This is a huge problem for the 42,000 children, or 6 percent of the state’s children, who lived in poverty in 2012, according to the Annie E. Casey foundation report in 2014. The foundation also found that 13,000 children in NH did not attend preschool. While there are 950 licensed child care programs in NH, only 120 have acquired the license-plus designation, and 57 have national accreditation. The state has experienced a 22 percent decline in the number of licensed programs during the last 13 years—a loss of 271 programs.

Friday, April 3, 2015
(Crosscut)

Early childhood education became a national conversation when President Obama stood before Congress in his 2013 State of the Union and proclaimed it “one of the best investments we can make.” Mayor Ed Murray recently introduced his implementation plan for Seattle’s universal pre-k program, which the Seattle  City Council’s Education and Governance Committee approved Wednesday. If the full council approves the plan next Monday, what can we expect to see come September and what issues may complicate the program? While most in Seattle’s education world support the idea of a pre-k program, some members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents family child care providers, along with some preschool workers and members of the Seattle school board, are concerned there isn’t enough space or funding, the program is too narrow in scope and it doesn’t provide enough for the poorest populations.

Thursday, April 2, 2015
(LA Times)

Latino toddlers whose language comprehension is roughly similar to white peers at 9 months old fall significantly behind by the time they are 2, according to a study released Thursday. 

The UC Berkeley study found that four-fifths of the nation's Mexican American toddlers lagged three to five months behind whites in preliteracy skills, oral language and familiarity with print materials.

Thursday, April 2, 2015
(All Africa)

The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$50 million International Development Association (IDA)* grant to increase access to pre-school and secondary education in the poorest areas of Burkina Faso. It will also go towards improving the quality of teaching and learning in the country focusing on mathematics, natural and computer sciences, as well as languages.

Today's financing supports the Burkina Faso Education Access and Quality Improvement Project that will contribute to improving education and learning as well as strengthening education institutions.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
(The Spokesman-Review)

Head Start launched in 1965, initiated by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration and considered a weapon in his war on poverty. So far, 32 million low-income children nationwide have gone through Head Start.The national program overseen by each state costs about $1 billion annually. It offers free preschool, education, nutrition, health screenings, family support services and support for children with disabilities. Families earning no more than 130 percent of the federal poverty guidelines qualify; for a family of four, that’s about $31,000 annually. “It really is to try to get these kids on a fair playing field,” said Sally Aman, a National Head Start Association spokeswoman.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
(Sentinel & Enterprise News)

Standing behind a growing movement for pre-kindergarten, local school officials advocated at the Statehouse on Tuesday for a bill that would create pre-K programs in underperforming districts throughout the state. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Alice Peisch and state Sen. Sal DiDomenico, would phase in funding for Level 3, 4 and 5 school districts throughout the state. It would use a mixed-delivery system of public and private providers. The bill also has program requirements, including a student-to-teacher ratio of 10-to-1 and a class-size limit of 20 students. Districts would have two years to adapt the pre-K program. The bill could have a substantial impact in Leominster, a Level 3 district where parents can pay for a pre-kindergarten option. Some spots are also reserved for students with special needs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“You don’t say to preschoolers, ‘What do you know?’ because then they think there’s supposed to be something already in their heads. You say, ‘What do you want to find out?’ ” said the co-director of the Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting at the University of Illinois.

“What do you know?” emphasizes academics, including the rote memorization of the alphabet, where a teacher provides a sole correct answer. “What do you want to find out?” requires a child to find his own path to one of many answers through investigation or play. How preschoolers will be taught becomes an increasingly critical question in the wake of President Barack Obama’s recently announced Preschool for All Initiative and Gov. Tom Wolf’s allocation of an additional $120 million, an 88 percent increase, to early childhood programs in his proposed state budget.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
(Lowell Sun)

Standing behind a growing movement for pre-kindergarten, Lowell school officials advocated at the Statehouse on Tuesday for a bill that would create pre-K programs in underperforming districts throughout the state.

The bill could have a substantial impact in Lowell, a Level 3 district where about 45 percent of the current kindergarten class couldn't get into a pre-K program.

"What matters to me in Lowell is a need to get more young children into our schools. There is no doubt about that," Superintendent of Schools Jean Franco told a crowded room of parents, legislators and early-childhood advocates.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Alice Peisch and state Sen. Sal DiDomenico, would phase in funding for Level 3, 4 and 5 school districts throughout the state. It would use a mixed-delivery system of public and private providers.

 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
(Science Newsline )

New research from UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) reveals high-quality early education is especially advantageous for children when they start younger and continue longer. Not only does more high-quality early education significantly boost the language skills of children from low-income families, children whose first language is not English benefit even more.

"These findings show that more high-quality early education and care can narrow the achievement gap before children reach kindergarten," said Noreen M. Yazejian, principal investigator of FPG's Educare Learning Network Implementation Study. "Children from low-income families can improve their standing relative to their middle class peers."

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
(The Bates Student)

Four-year-olds are not usually the first group of people who we think of as social activists.

As such, it often helps when there is someone to speak up for their interests, especially when that person has some type of political influence or power. That is exactly what Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton did for over 47,300 of these young children.

On March 20th, as he sat in a preschool classroom, Governor Dayton called for the state’s lawmakers to pass a measure that would use almost a fifth, or $348-million, of a $1.9-billion budget surplus on a universal preschool program, effectively making Minnesota one of only a few states to offer a universal and full-day education program of this sort. While this particular measure would work towards ensuring that every four-year-old is guaranteed the opportunity for education, the Governor has also expressed interest in funding for children of younger ages as well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
(KQDSfox21.tv)

"We have one of the best education systems in the country here in Minnesota,” said Smith. “But one of the challenges that we struggle with is not every child does the same, we have gaps."

To close the achievement gap Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's budget is proposing to pour $695 million into preK-12 education.

Nearly half of it would be used to fund free, all day pre-kindergarten programs for all children.

"We know from research that the most important thing we can do to help make sure that every single child in Minnesota is ready for school, is ready by 3rd grade is gonna be ready to graduate from high school,” said Smith. “The most important thing we can do is make sure they're ready for kindergarten."

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
(New York Times Motherlode blog)

Friends and acquaintances often ask me for the low-down on what preschool quality looks like as they make these decisions. Recently an anxious neighbor asked me for guidance and I gave her my spiel: Find a place that works for your family; teacher education is important; interactions with people are more important than stuff. I talked for a while, but then confessed that I couldn’t get my own child into a decent program. Her anxiety resurfaced and she said, “If YOU can’t get good child care, there’s no hope for any of us!”

In a way, she is not wrong. Individual parents cannot create an affordable, high-quality system of preschool, yet we’re all on our own, each of us trying to get our child the best care we can. Some of us have specialized knowledge, having spent careers researching preschool quality. Many parents have not.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
(Forbes)

“The sooner the better” is the perfect tag line for early childhood education. There is no magic bullet to ensure a lifetime of self-fulfillment in personal and career terms. But rigorous research shows that high-quality early childhood education is an extraordinarily powerful means to promote continued success in school, in the workplace, and also in social and civic realms.

It may seem surprising, but the experiences of children in their early years have disproportionately large impacts relative to experiences during their school years and beyond. If children lag in those early years, chances are that they will never catch up. Remediation of deficiencies in learning of all types is far more difficult and expensive than learning early on. The good news is that high-quality programs focused on early childhood years can have powerful long-term impacts for all racial and economic groups across the country.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
(PostBulletin.com)

It's a bold initiative by Dayton who has proposed $348 million in new state spending to provide universal preschool in every public school district. It should be no surprise that Dayton is all in for universal preschool. This initiative is reminiscent of the all-day kindergarten legislation that passed in 2013, which he frequently touted during his re-election campaign as one of the major successes of his first term.

"We have already seen the tremendous successes of all-day kindergarten, which got underway just this year," Dayton said. "But we have a lot more work to do to narrow Minnesota's achievement gap and provide excellent education for every student in Minnesota. That work has to start now, and it must begin with our youngest learners."

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
(Montgomery Advertiser)

Bulman was one of dozens of pre-K advocates that rallied at the Alabama State House during the second annual Child Advocacy Day, which was sponsored by VOICES for Alabama’s Children. Last year, the National Institute for Early Education Research recognized the state’s pre-K program as the best in the United States for the eighth year in a row. Melanie Bridgeforth, executive director of VOICES, said the day was focused on bringing education advocates to the State House so that they could express their concerns about early childhood education, giving them “a place at the table.”

Monday, March 30, 2015
(630WPRO)

Rhode Island has been awarded $3.3 million in federal funding for early childhood education programs. The congressional delegation announced the funding for Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

Monday, March 30, 2015
(Omaha.com)

Low-income parents would no longer have to turn down pay raises for fear of losing all of their child care assistance under a bill advanced by lawmakers Monday.

Legislative Bill 81, introduced by State Sen. Tanya Cook of Omaha, cleared first-round consideration on a 28-0 vote.

Cook said the bill would eliminate the subsidy “cliff effect,” under which parents who make more than 130 percent of the federal poverty level lose all child care help.

Monday, March 30, 2015
(Kansas City Star)

The clearest message researchers gained in a year of polling and listening across the state is that most Missourians want to support early childhood education.

Less clear, but still reassuring to the Raise Your Hand for Kids campaign, is that they think enough people would be inclined to vote for a 50-cent increase in Missouri’s tobacco tax to help make it happen.

But campaign organizer Erin Brower knows the fight to raise Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation tobacco tax gets complicated very quickly after that.

 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Head Start truly changed the trajectory of my life, and it changes the lives of thousands of children in Minnesota every year.

That’s why this budget matters. Along with additional provisions in the human services and health budgets, the governor’s blueprint for early success has the power to transform young lives in the same way mine was transformed. It has the power to begin breaking the cycle of poverty that has trapped families for too long, to empower parents and instill hope where before there was none. It has the power to spark our state’s next generation of innovators and thinkers: CEOs, community leaders and commissioners.

Sunday, March 29, 2015
(DL-Online)

 If Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has his way, all 4-year-olds will soon be going to school within their school districts, all day, every day. The creation of a universal pre-k system throughout the state would cost roughly $348 million and would be funded through the state’s surplus.

Although it’s questionable that the proposal would pass, given it is a Republican-controlled House right now, the goal is not likely to die even if it’s shot down this year. The idea behind this proposal would be to provide a free pre-school education to all 4-year-olds across the state, thereby attempting to even the playing field for all children heading into kindergarten, including those who currently do not receive a pre-school education.

Saturday, March 28, 2015
(WCPO Cincinnati)

Backers of universal preschool in Cincinnati are zeroing in on a plan to pay for an ambitious program they say could lift thousands out of poverty, create a more competitive workforce and result in fewer criminals crowding prisons. Four tax proposals are still under consideration, but momentum is building around a city property tax increase through a school levy or a ballot initiative in fall 2016. The program would make Cincinnati first in the nation to fund two full years of preschool for virtually all children living in the city.

Friday, March 27, 2015
(Citizensvoice.com)

Calling the federal budget “a reflection of who we are” as a nation, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey ripped a proposed Senate Republican budget on Thursday for failing children. In a conference call with reporters hours before the Senate began debate on the multitrillion-dollar spending plan, Casey blasted the budget’s cuts to the nation’s top early childhood education program, Head Start, the free or reduced price school-lunch program, food stamps, special education and Medicaid. The budget also allows tax credits that benefit the poor to lapse, he said.

Friday, March 27, 2015
(Star-Telegram)

As state legislators wrestle with how to provide money for more pre-kindergarten classes, the Fort Worth school district is moving forward with a groundbreaking decision to offer a full-day education program for all 4-year-olds.

On Friday morning, the district will break ground in a ceremony signaling the start of construction to add pre-K classrooms at 16 school sites to accommodate all 4-year-old students in the system.

The Fort Worth projects get underway while the Legislature takes up bills to add more funding — but not enough dollars — for early childhood education, an issue that Gov. Greg Abbott made a hallmark of his election campaign.

 

Friday, March 27, 2015
(Yale News)

If you believe in karma — the good kind, that is — then you’ll believe it was working for Head Start pioneer Edward Zigler two years ago. He was preparing to undergo hip surgery when he became the direct beneficiary of the educational program he helped form 50 years ago.

Zigler’s wife and colleague were at his side at Yale-New Haven Hospital when the anesthesiologist, John Paul Kim, realized that he was about to care for the man who started the program that helped educate him as a child growing up in poverty in New York.

Thursday, March 26, 2015
(Rocket News)

While the debate rages over the federal budget and how much will go to K-12 schools, states and localities supply the biggest share of education dollars – about 87 percent on average. But is that money distributed fairly to the students who need it most?

School districts that serve the most students in poverty receive an average of $1,200, or 10 percent, less per student in state and local funding than districts with few students in poverty, according to a report released Thursday by The Education Trust (Ed Trust), a group in Washington that advocates for closing economic and racial inequities in schools. The resource gap grows to $2,200 when adjusting to account for an estimated 40 percent higher cost to educate high-poverty students, the report notes.

Thursday, March 26, 2015
(Juneau Empire)

Alaska is failing its youth and failing its future by choosing not to add funds back into Alaska’s budget to fund pre-K education for youngsters.

A wealth of economic research shows that smart investments in early childhood education fight poverty by delivering strong academic, social and economic outcomes not just for children, but also for their families and their communities.

Thursday, March 26, 2015
(NewsWorks)

Other kids might soon have a chance to enter free pre-K. Gov. Tom Wolf's new budget proposes a "down payment" on early education spending, in the form of an additional $100 million to Pre-K Counts and $20 million more for Head Start next year. Pre-K, or preschool, is just one big-ticket item in a hefty $1 billion state education budget increase. While pre-K spending sometimes enjoy bipartisan support -- and has received calls to actions from the White House -- committing funds to early education is a tough sell in times of budget scarcity. But advocates hope that the long-term promise of pre-K spending will outweigh short-term budget squeamishness.

Thursday, March 26, 2015
(United States Senator Patty Murray )

 Today, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced an amendment to the Senate Republican Budget to expand access to high-quality preschool for low- and moderate-income three-and-four year olds. The proposal, which would be fully paid for by closing wasteful tax loopholes that benefit the biggest corporations, was blocked by Senate Republicans by a vote of 54-46.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
(TMCnet.com)

Waterford Institute announced today that it has invested in a six-month pilot program partnering with three preschool centers in South Carolina. Last week, 70 preschoolers began using UPSTART, Waterford's in-home school readiness program, at home. The pilot will run through August, at which time the children's learning outcomes will be assessed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
(Caller Times)

One of the best outcomes of the 2014 gubernatorial election was that both candidates made a priority issue of what's best for children too young for Kindergarten. Now the Legislature is grappling with competing pre-K plans. The upsides are that both plans would raise the state's investment in pre-K education and that passing one or the other is more likely than rejecting both. It helps that no one is disputing the value of pre-K. Research shows that it prepares children to read at their grade level at third grade. A local school administrator interviewed by Nadia Tamez-Robledo of the Caller-Times identified third grade as the turning point at which children make the jump from learning to read, to reading to learn. Gov. Greg Abbott was right to declare pre-K a top priority for the Legislature. It's the foundation for his commendably ambitious goal to make Texas the nation's leader in education.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
(Washington Square News)

In recognition of the challenges presented by a lack of funding in childhood care, leaders in early childhood care policies and Steinhardt Educational Leadership program hosted a panel to discuss child care in New York City on Monday.

Panel member Lorelei Vargas, the deputy commissioner for early care and education in the Administration for Children’s Services, said such conversations are part of a larger movement toward reform.

“It’s an exciting time because there’s a lot of commitment from the current administration to support early childhood development,” Vargas said. “It’s something new because we haven’t seen that in a long time.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
(Think Progress)

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) has proposed spending nearly a fifth of his state’s budget surplus on creating a universal preschool program for Minnesota’s 4 year olds. That would make it one of just a handful of states to offer universal, full-day pre-K.

At a visit to a preschool classroom on Friday, Dayton called on state lawmakers to pass $348 million in new spending for every public school in the state so they can create preschool programs. That would represent about a fifth of the state’s projected $1.9 billion surplus and is the biggest general fund increase he’s put forward this year. He’s currently focusing on access for all of the state’s 4 year olds, although he said he would be open to more funding for younger ages.

The governor’s administration estimates that 47,300 preschoolers would be covered in the first year of the program, which would expand to 57,000 after that. Minnesota currently ranks 50th nationally for its share of students attending full-day preschool and 40th for 4 year olds’ access to programs.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
(Star Tribune)

The House GOP bid would nearly flatline total state spending in the coming two years, compared with 2014-15. It would devote all — and then some — of a forecast $1.8 billion surplus to unspecified tax relief; divert $612 million from the state’s general fund to transportation purposes; whack a whopping $1.15 billion from forecast human services spending; and give all of education, from preschool to college, a spare $200 million increase over forecast growth. The GOP plan likely is too lean to fund universal preschool, a higher ed tuition freeze, a state spur to broadband development, pay raises for home health care aides and many other items on lobbyists’ wish lists. The separate transportation plan GOP House leaders unveiled on Monday would freeze Metro Transit operating funds for the foreseeable future and, in all likelihood, end the build out of the metro area’s light-rail system.

Monday, March 23, 2015
(ModernMom)

The social and emotional development of 3- and 4-year-olds transitioning from toddlers into school-age children is as important as her cognitive and physical development. . . 

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), problems occurring socially and emotionally during early childhood have been associated with problems later in life, including persistent physical aggression, high-school dropout rates, adolescent delinquency and antisocial behavior. Researchers believe that development of poor social and emotional skills can lead to negative interactions with teachers and rejection by peers, which causes the child to dislike school and learning in general. Encouraging appropriate social and emotional development during the preschool years can help prevent this downward spiral from forming.

 

Monday, March 23, 2015
(Sacramento Bee (Opinion))

There may be limited appetite in Sacramento for making all of these investments at once. But if we truly believe in the California dream, if we truly want to provide opportunities for all our kids, we must recognize that the real economic constraints on families means that we have a greater responsibility than ever to increase opportunities for children through investments in child care, our schools and our communities.

Monday, March 23, 2015
(San Diego Free Press)

That argument is mostly grounded in an understanding of the significance that early childhood and family environments play in predicting educational and life outcomes. A rash of data, including both a key longitudinalstudy conducted by University of Chicago economist James J. Heckman, and findings from the HighScope Perry Preschool Study, argue that parenting and home enrichment matter as much as, if not more than, what happens in the K-12 classroom, especially in forming a child’s cognitive ability and personality in the years before children start school.

“I guess the most important thing [the studies show] is that the education gaps don’t have to be there,” said Dr. Larry Schweinhart, an early education program researcher and an author of the HighScope study. “That they are at least partially controlled or influenced by public policy.”

Schweinhart, who advocates for quality childcare and universal preschool, says the preschool group he studied demonstrated dramatic decreases in crime and significant increases in all positive measures compared to a control group. That, he insists, not only makes early intervention programs a smart social investment but it makes blaming public schools similar to shortsighted attitudes he’s seen in criminology.

Monday, March 23, 2015
(Politifact Virginia)

Del. Ken Plum, D-Fairfax, recently renewed his call on Virginia to invest more money in preschool education.

During a cable television discussion in Reston, Plum said, "We’ve got 40 years of study now that show that, with a good preschool start, you’re less likely to be on public dole. You’re less likely to be in prison. You’re much more likely to be a good productive citizen.That money spent up front saves money in the long haul."

The value of a preschool education is a hot topic among early childhood education experts, gaining steam in 2013 when President Barack Obama proposed expanding publicly funded programs to include all 4-year-olds who come from low and moderate-income families. Much of the research has focused on whether preschool provides lasting gains in the thinking and social skills of low-income children.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015
(CBS Minnesota)

Gov. Mark Dayton is continuing to double down on his efforts to dramatically expand funding for early childhood education. Dayton wants to use $348 million from the budget surplus to fund  universal preschool for Minnesota’s 4-year-olds. But critics say the money would be better spent on scholarships for at risk preschoolers.

Sunday, March 22, 2015
(MySA)

We support legislative efforts to expand high quality prekindergarten in Texas, but doing it on the cheap is not adequate. It was encouraging to see Gov. Greg Abbottmake good late last month on his campaign promise to make early education one of five emergency legislative issues this session. The move means pre-K bills will be fast-tracked and likely to pass. However, HB 4, the legislation filed by Rep.Dan Huberty, R-Houston and Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, does not go far enough. It does not expand pre-K eligibility or provide funding for full-day programs.