Volume 14, Issue 9

Friday, May 1, 2015

Hot Topics

A new issue brief from NWLC, notes that this year, 27 governors referenced early care and education in their 2015 State of the State addresses, many including specific plans for enhancing access and quality. Governor Jack Dalrymple has signed a bill providing $3 million in state grants to pre-K, writes Lillian Mongeau of Education Week. In Minnesota there has been plenty of discussion, voting, and support for  funding early childhood programs as well, including a visit from Arne Duncan. Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf has proposed adding funds to support preschool, with support from local law enforcement. In Montana, law enforcement is also on board with added funding for preschool.

A new report from The National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University finds that publicly funded preschools across the country are segregated by race and income. As the field of early education grows and gains more momentum, policymakers must consider making high-quality preschool available to children of all socioeconomic statuses and races. Research shows that all children benefit from access to high-quality preschool, especially children from low-income families when in classrooms with children from more affluent families. But as co-author of the report Jeanna Reid argues “…a lot of programs are not high quality, and low-income children are most likely to be in low-quality programs.” Research shows that high-quality preschool experiences have long-term benefits such as improved future academic performance, enhanced social skills, better jobs and lower likelihood of turning to crime. Several politicians are working to implement universal preschool to benefit families from all income levels, most recently, Governor Dayton in Minnesota, President Obama, and New York Mayor Bill De Blasio

NIEER is planning to release the Yearbook, State of Preschool 2014, on May 11th this year. Please email press, advocacy, and state inquiries to kbrown@nieer.org

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

We hope you have enjoyed our blog forum on Common Core State Standards. In this post we consider the discussion, and outline future plans for this topic on the blog. We have gathered all the posts into a pdf document for your convenience. If you would be interested in an upcoming webinar on the topic, please let us know about your interests in our brief survey.

In our final week of the Common Core State Standards blog forum, Kyle Snow, Ph.D, Director, Center for Applied Research, National Association for the Education of Young Children, discusses Common Core State Standards and Developmentally Appropriate Practice. 


CLASP and the NWLC developed a document to answer questions about implementing the CCDBG reauthorization.

Research Connections has cited a study based on the ECLS-Birth Cohort data examining the relationship between center-based care and school readiness for immigrant children. 

CEELO Update

On April 23, 2015, CEELO and the Center on School Turnaround (CST) hosted an online session designed for state early learning and school improvement administrators gearing up to include the early learning model in their school improvement plans under the new rule for the SIG grants. Presenters reviewed the eight components* of the new model and discussed key requirements, including school leadership and expanding high quality prekindergarten and full-day kindergarten. 

Jim Squires from CEELO and leaders from the Southeast Regional Comprehensive Center have been working with the Mississippi Department of Education on forming a Stakeholder Group to advise on early education matters. The committee is composed of agency leaders, community and state organizations, advocates, and practitioners in education, health and social services; and will focus on developing a state definition of school readiness, creating a statewide plan for family engagement, establishing a comprehensive system of early learning assessment, and coordinating services for at-risk children and families.

Jim Squires has also been working with the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) as it supports the Early Childhood Subcommittee of Gov. Deal's Education Reform Commission. The committee has met for the past several months, first addressing issues of finance in response the the Governor's charge to expand access to high quality early education. Issues of quality and incentives will be addressed during upcoming meetings with recommendations due in August for the Governor's consideration.


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. 

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

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

Early Education News Roundup

Friday, May 1, 2015
(U.S. News & World Report)

The research is clear: The early years of a child’s life are some of the most formative for his or her cognitive and emotional development. Given the importance of early learning and the growing consensus surrounding the benefits of quality preschool programs, it’s no surprise that local, state and federal leaders nationwide, of all political stripes, have begun rallying behind efforts to expand access to high-quality early childhood programs.

That’s why last year, in order to ensure that we are doing all we can to best serve Virginia’s children, I created the Children’s Cabinet and the Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success. The council is specifically focused on those crucial early years of a child’s development, and is working to assess current programs, services and public resources so that we can develop effective programs best tailored to foster the health, growth and cognitive development of children.

But while the benefits of early childhood education programs are clear, in Virginia – as well as throughout much of the country – access to quality preschool remains financially out of reach for thousands of families. As a result, many of our nation’s youngest and most vulnerable individuals are starting their K-12 schooling a step behind their peers from more affluent families. It’s time to change that.

Friday, May 1, 2015

State senators are likely to pass Gov. Greg Abbott's "gold standard" pre-kindergarten legislation into law, but not before the chamber's far-right conservatives make clear they question its necessity. On Thursday, the Senate Public Education Committee approved House Bill 4 by Dan Huberty, R-Houston, an Abbott-backed bill that would funnel $130 million to certain pre-K programs that meet additional quality benchmarks based on teacher training levels, child improvement measures and more. HB4 does not expand existing state-sponsored pre-k, which is offered currently just to four-year-olds from homeless, military and non-native English speaking families. In the House committee, most lawmakers discussed the positive impact full-day pre-K would have in Texas, if not for insurmountable political and fiscal barriers.

Thursday, April 30, 2015
(The Century Foundation)

In the past few years, the debate surrounding child poverty has become increasingly centered around early childhood. As early as eighteen months of age, disparities arise in children’s vocabulary based on the income of their families. Neuro-imaging has shown that the repeated stress of living in poverty can have negative effects on a child’s developing brain.

The bottom line? Inequality begins at birth.

In the policy sphere, this discovery has translated into a push for pre-kindergarten education, with Mayor Bill de Blasio starting a universal pre-k program in New York City last fall and President Obama pushing for a nationwide universal preschool program of his own. And for good reason—the rate of return for early childhood education programs is estimated to be seven dollars for every one dollar invested, due to savings on down-the-line social costs, such as incarceration and health care. Preschool, like K-12 education, is increasingly being thought of as a public good, one that considers all children deserving of high-quality early education.

However, unlike K-12 education, the idea of equity in preschool has not garnered the same level of attention. That is, the limited number of preschool programs that do exist often isolate students by income and race, with impoverished and minority children having less access to high-quality programs (those with small class size, small teacher-to-child ratio, and qualified teachers). If preschool is to be used as a vehicle to help tackle child poverty, instituting equity among classrooms should be a bigger concern.

Thursday, April 30, 2015
(Washington Post)

Publicly funded preschools across the country are largely segregated by race and income, and poor children are typically enrolled in the lowest quality programs, according to a new report released Wednesday by researchers at the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University.

While states more than doubled their investments in preschool between 2003 and 2013, when 1.3 million three- and four-year-olds were enrolled at a cost of $5.4 billion, most classrooms were economically segregated, the researchers found.

“If every child could be in a high-quality program, we could all go home and not worry about it,” said Jeanne Reid, who wrote the report with Sharon Lynn Kagan. It was funded by The Century Foundation, a left-leaning think tank, and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, a civil rights organization. “But a lot of programs are not high quality, and low-income children are most likely to be in low-quality programs.”

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A popular and well-regarded preschool program in Los Angeles, which was created more than three decades ago to help children and their parents in low-income, racially and ethnically isolated neighborhoods of the city, would be shut down over the next two years under a district proposal to cut costs.

The specialized program, known as the School Readiness Language Development Program, has been in the budget-cutting crosshairs for several years. Now, Los Angeles Unified School District Interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines’ budget plan proposes to eliminate the program, which currently serves about 10,000 4-year-olds – nearly one-third of the 35,000 pre-kindergarten slots offered by the state’s largest school district. At its peak, the preschool program enrolled about 16,000 students.

Maureen Diekmann, executive director of the district’s Early Childhood Education programs, said Cortines, who returned to the district this year as interim superintendent, “has been a supporter of early education for years.” But she added, “This is not about that. This is about money.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

But Mr. de Blasio's signature issue – free universal pre-K classes for 4-year-olds – is increasingly popular. He has accomplished the largest expansion of early childhood education of any city in the nation's history.

The mayor worked hard for this achievement, an effort to boost the lives of very young New Yorkers and their families.Last year, during Mr. de Blasio's first months in office, more than 50,000 children were registered citywide to attend pre-kindergarten classes, over double the 2013 total of 20,000.

Now almost 69,000 applications have been submitted during the first round of city enrollments for pre-K seats during the 2015-16 school year. Island enrollments so far in 2015 have risen to 4,111.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
(The Times Herald)

Spending money on pre-kindergarten programs now will inevitably save the taxpayers of Pennsylvania money in the long run when they are not paying as much to lock up criminals, according to a report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.

To drive that point home on Wednesday, District Attorneys Risa Ferman, Montgomery County; Seth Williams, Philadelphia; Jack Whelan, Delaware County; and Tom Hogan, Chester County, joined each other on stage at the DoubleTree hotel in King of Prussia to introduce the report, dubbed “We’re the Guys You Pay Later.”

In short, the report states that much more money is spent on prosecuting defendants and locking them up in the county jails and state prisons than is spent on investing in education for children before kindergarten. Approximately $2 billion is spent on prisons in Pennsylvania, according to the report.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015
(Daily Globe)

Gov. Mark Dayton got some help Tuesday from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in his unwavering push to spend part of the state’s budget surplus to increase access to state-funded preschool. After visiting a preschool class at Richardson Elementary in North St. Paul, Dayton said he would not agree to a budget that didn’t include a substantial investment in early childhood education.

“With a $2 billion surplus, we are not going to settle for a pittance,” Dayton said. “We are going to insist that children be number one.”

The governor has proposed $343 million in new spending so every 4-year-old can attend public preschool if their parents want to enroll them. He also has proposed new funding to expand preschool scholarships and eliminate the waiting list for the Head Start program.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015
(Cincinnati.com )

Gov. Steve Beshear, Toyota and United Way on April 24 announced the expansion of innovative early childhood academies to 36 more schools across the state. The initiative is funded by Kentucky’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge federal grant and Toyota’s manufacturing operations in Kentucky.

Monday, April 27, 2015
(The Rural Blog)

While the number of words is important, how words are used also matters, said Barbara T. Bowman, a child-development professor and co-founder of the Chicago-based Erikson Institute. Children of professionals heard twice as many unique words and twice as many encouraging words than children in other family situations. According to the research, more than 85 percent of the "vocabulary, conversational patterns and language complexity of the 3-year-olds had come from their families," Sparks writes. The vocabularies of children of professionals were nearly twice the size of the vocabularies of children from families receiving welfare.

Monday, April 27, 2015
(Lancaster Online)

The key to that direction, Stedman said, is education, and the earlier society provides it, the better. That's why the district attorney and Lancaster County Sheriff Mark Reese are advocating for increased state funding for early childhood education.

Stedman and Reese met with Rep. Bryan Cutler at a Head Start center in Lancaster on Monday to voice their support for Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed $120 million budget increases in that area. Read more details on Wolf's proposal for early learning programs here.

In Lancaster County, 83 percent of low-income children don't have access to publicly funded high-quality pre-kindergarten, according to a 2014 analysis by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, a nonpartisan advocacy group.

Sunday, April 26, 2015
(Kitco News)

House Republicans on Saturday approved an education budget bill that increases spending by $157 million , setting up a confrontation with DFLers in the House and Senate who call the amount paltry.

The 69-61 vote, largely along party lines, occurred after about five hours of debate. Rep. Mark Uglem , R- Champlin , voted against the measure. Rep. Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, and Rep. Dave Baker , R- Willmar , did not vote. Baker was in Willmar as part of a delegation coordinating the state's bird flu response, and Davnie was excused for a family event, a DFL spokesman said.

The omnibus education bill would bring state spending on education to $16.9 billion , about 40 percent of the overall general fund budget.

Sunday, April 26, 2015
(LA Times)

The ill effects of being a couch potato kick in fast for kindergartners, a new study suggests.

Kindergarten children who watched television for more than one hour a day were 52% more likely to be overweight than their schoolmates who watched less TV, researchers said Sunday. The kids who spent at least an hour each day in front of the boob tube were also 72% more likely to be obese.

These figures are based on data from 12,650 children from around the country who started kindergarten in the fall of 2011 and were enrolled in a study run by the U.S. Department of Education. Researchers measured the height and weight of each young student (which were used to calculate their body mass index), and parents were asked how much TV time their kids got.


Saturday, April 25, 2015
(Star Tribune)

Dozens of teachers and House DFL members rallied Saturday ahead of a floor debate on a Republican-sponsored education bill that they say will result in the cutting of programs and teaching staff, among other effects.

House members are taking up the GOP-sponsored education omnibus bill, which proposes spending $1.06 billion more than the current two-year budget cycle. Of that, $157 million is new spending. Republicans are proposing an overall $16.9 billion budget for education. Gov. Mark Dayton, by comparison, has proposed $695 million in new spending, the bulk of which would be for his top priority of offering universal preschool for all four-year-olds in the state. The Senate DFL has proposed spending an additional $350 million, and House DFLers this week called for $800 million in new spending. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015
(Duluth News Tribune)

If Gov. Mark Dayton gets his way, all-day, every day preschool would be available to all Minnesota school districts.

He’s proposing to invest a large chunk of the state’s projected $1.9 billion surplus — $343 million — in universal preschool for 4-year-olds, and a total of $695 million for pre-K-12 education. Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius was in Duluth on Thursday to talk about Dayton’s education spending proposals and to hold a “listening session” with Duluthians.

“Research is so clear that kids have to have an early start in order to be ready for kindergarten and in order to not get behind,” Cassellius told the News Tribune. “Why do we have achievement gaps? Because we’ve been shortchanging kids on the front end.”

The percentage of the state’s 4-year-olds enrolled in publicly funded preschool is 15 percent, she said.

Thursday, April 23, 2015
(Billings Gazette)

The economists and Montana lawmen have looked at the facts: What happens or doesn’t happen in the first few years of life is a strong predictor of whether a person will graduate from high school, become a teen parent, go to prison, get a good job, go on welfare and own a home. . .

All children need the skills that are taught in high-quality preschool. Low-income children are less likely to learn these skills outside of school, and their parents are less able to afford private preschool. State-funded preschool would bring these 4-year-olds closer to an even start.

We call on all Montana legislators who want to prevent crime and increase workforce readiness to support pre-K. How about starting with pilot programs to serve 4-year-olds in low-income neighborhoods?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
(CBS Minnesota)

More than 100 law enforcement leaders across Minnesota are asking lawmakers for a minimum of $150 million a year for preschool programs.

They say early learning programs can help children develop a foundation for the future, reduce school behavior problems and cut back on the number of children who are held back in school.

Gov. Mark Dayton wants to send every 4-year-old to school for free and says he won’t compromise on his $343 million plan for universal preschool.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Jersey's Assembly Budget Committee will hold its hearing on education funding at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Trenton. . . . The budget proposal includes a $3.3 million increase for interdistrict school choice aid and $2.7 million for preschool education aid.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
(EdWeek )

A follow-up led by Ms. Walker, using 29 of the children, showed vocabulary gaps in preschool predicted 3rd grade gaps in language-test performance. "What I found in visiting those children from kindergarten to 3rd grade was, those who had heard the least were still at a disadvantage years later," she said. "I always knew where to find them; frequently, they were in the hallways, for behavior problems."

That doesn't surprise W. Steve Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick. Policymakers, he said, often acknowledge differences in exposure to words but not to "encouraging" language.

"I think one of the least-appreciated implications of this [study] is the problem with how we segregate low-income children in preschool programs just for them," Mr. Barnett said. "Children were already replicating these [family] patterns in their own interactions. What did we think the consequences would be of kids who get together and interact with each other largely negatively?"

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
(MPR News)

One of the biggest debates at the state Capitol this year centers around early education policy for some of the state's youngest residents.

Gov. Mark Dayton has made universal preschool for all 4-year-olds his top legislative priority. But opponents, including some of the state's largest childcare groups, say early education policy should be more focused on lower income families and parents should be allowed more choice as to where they enroll their children.

So far, both the House and the Senate have rejected Dayton's proposal.

Two guests joined MPR News' Tom Weber to discuss the issue.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
(Education News)

The President went on to say that one of the main issues pertaining to wage inequality is that there are more men than women currently taking positions in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – careers.  In order to overcome this, Obama suggested increasing access to educational opportunities.

He suggested that access to early childhood education could offer STEM opportunities to children from an earlier age.  However, he also noted that because the average childcare cost in the state is $16,000, many families cannot afford quality care.  He noted that he would like to reform the current tax code in order to offer access to such education to more families, as children who do not receive these early learning opportunities arrive to elementary school at a disadvantage.

“We know [education] is the smartest investment we can make as a society,” Obama said. “People say, well that’d be nice if we could afford it. But the truth is if we closed a few corporate tax loopholes that are not contributing to the economy right now, then we could afford it.”

He went on to discuss the importance of offering quality child care for working families, saying that doing so will help the overall economic health of the country by ensuring that children grow up to be responsible, tax-paying adults.

Monday, April 20, 2015
(Tyler Morning Telegraph (Opinion))

Early Childhood Education is one of the major issues at the forefront of conversations happening all over the United States and Texas, inside and outside the walls of Congress and even around the dinner table in our local community. The research is clear — quality early childhood education makes a lifelong difference. “Early childhood” is typically referred to as the earliest years of a child’s life between the ages of 0 to 5, before the age of traditional schooling beginning at kindergarten.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

AS A FORMER governor and a statewide child advocate, we both agree that New Jersey children cannot wait any longer for the state to make good on the promise of preschool. This early education prepares children for school and, ultimately, for success in life while leveraging the significant investment we make in K-12 education. New Jersey has built a nationally recognized preschool program but it's only available in a handful of towns. Research shows that children lucky enough to live in these towns are getting a stronger start and performing much better in school. Now there is an increasing sense of urgency. Thousands of children are missing out on high-quality preschool simply because of their ZIP code. It is time to expand New Jersey's successful preschool program. The research is there and the results are in. What's missing is the political will to put preschool to work for all of New Jersey.

Saturday, April 18, 2015
(Star Tribune)

On the day last week when tensions erupted over the Legislature’s snub of Gov. Mark Dayton’s top priority — universal preschool — Education Minnesota launched a $200,000, monthlong TV ad blitz to build support for the measure.

The stakes for the union couldn’t be higher. Fully phased in, public preschool is expected to cost $914 million in 2018-19 and require 2,849 licensed teachers, according to the Minnesota Management and Budget Office and the state Department of Education. Dayton has called for initial funding of $343 million in his budget ­recommendations.

The fight for public preschool is the latest example of the political muscle the state teachers union wields at the Capitol, where it has long been a powerhouse with an enviable win-loss ratio. This year, the union has been at the center of the action, from pushing back attempts to neuter teacher seniority protections, to arguing for more generous school funding and smaller class sizes.

Saturday, April 18, 2015
(Star Tribune)

Gov. Mark Dayton on Saturday addressed Education Minnesota delegates at their annual convention and urged them to call on legislators and tell them to support his $343-million plan to offer universal access preschool for the state's 4-year-olds. The second-term governor has pledged to spend much of the state's $1.9 billion projected surplus on education. Dayton said that his signature legislative proposal -- universal access to preschool -- is one that would help close the state's glaring achievement gap. But with four weeks left until the end of the legislative session, the plan has not gained traction with the Legislature. The GOP-led House and the DFL-led Senate did not include funding for it in the education bills they unveiled last week.