Volume 15, Issue 10

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hot Topics

The 2015 State Preschool Yearbook is the newest edition of our annual report profiling state-funded prekindergarten programs. It covers the 2014-2015 year as well as documenting more than a decade of change from as far back as 2001-2002. The 2015 Yearbook profiles 57 state-funded pre-K programs in 42 states plus the District of Columbia and also provides narrative information on early education efforts in the eight states and the U.S. territories that do not provide state-funded pre-K. Nationally, we found that enrollment inched up, while greater progress was made on spending per child and minimum quality standards. State funded pre-K served almost 1.4 million children. Spending topped $6.2 billion, an increase of over $553 million, although two-thirds of this increase can be attributed to New York. Six programs in five states met new quality standards benchmarks and two new states, West Virginia and Mississippi, joined the group of states meeting all 10 quality standards benchmarks. However, progress has been unequal and uneven with some states taking large steps forward and other states moving backward. At the recent rate of progress it will take decades to serve even 50% of 4-year-olds in state pre-K. NYC is highlighted as an example because it made progress in two years that could take the rest of the nation more than a hundred. 

 

We released the Yearbook with Mayor de Blasio and others at a wonderful early childhood center in Harlem that should be a model for the country. Video footage is available here.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

The economist John Maynard Keynes famously wrote: “The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.” In a post yesterday, Dr. W Steven Barnett reflects on this year's Annual Pre-K Report and the slow rate of growth in pre-K quality, funding, and enrollment in most states over the last year.

Last week on our blog we provided a new video guide to understanding the New Jersey First Through Third Grade Implementation Guidelines, recently developed by Dr. Shannon Riley-Ayers and Dr. Sharon Ryan. You can find the videos themselves on our videos page.

Resources

Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child has released a report that calls for a new era of research and development in early childhood policy and practice in an effort to improve outcomes for young students, especially the most disadvantaged. "Dramatic improvements for all children are not only achievable but also necessary for a thriving and sustainable society," the report says.

 

Early Education Research Quarterly released a special issue on the effects of early integrated service provision in the Toronto First Duty Project. It contains 11 papers based on data gathered using the the Canadian Early Development Instrument.

 

Research Connections will be holding a free summer data workshop on the Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on August 8-9. Baby FACES is a descriptive study of Early Head Start programs designed to inform policy and practice at both national and local levels. Baby FACES project leads from Mathematica Policy Research will instruct this two-day data training, which will introduce researchers to the study objectives, methods, instruments, key findings, and data structure. Throughout the day there will be hands-on time with the data files and structured exercises.
 
The workshop is free, but space is limited. Researchers interested in using the Baby FACES data to answer policy relevant questions in early care and education are encouraged to apply. Participants must have programming experience in one or more of the following software packages: SAS, Stata, or SPSS. In addition, participants should have experience using large, complex survey data. The application deadline is June 10, 2016.
 

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a report entitled We're the guys You Pay Later calling for increased quality and spending for New Jersey pre-K. According to the report "If New Jersey invests further in pre-kindergarten now, we could save over $1.2 billion."

 

Vermont Agency of Education is seeking public input on its early childhood comprehensive assessment system, one of its multiple RTT-ELC projects.

Voices in Urban Education, a publication by the Annenburg Institute, explores the need to facilitate the transition from prekindergarten to kindergarten to get the most out of our pre-K investments. Read a summary and the full issue here.

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) expects to hire one or more Research Professors (rank open) to help inform early childhood education policy through research and policy analysis. Fields of specialization are open. However, all applicants should have interest and knowledge in early care and education policy. All candidates are expected to have strong analytical skills. To express interest, please send a letter and curriculum vitae to jobs@nieer.org and reference the research professor position. For more information check our webpage
 
The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) also expects to be adding an experienced early childhood policy analyst to our team. Compensation will be commensurate with ability and experience. To express interest, please send a letter and curriculum vitae to jobs@nieer.org and reference the policy analyst position.
 
 
Martha Montag Brown & Associates, LLC is pleased to announce a search for a new Program Officer – Early Education with the Heising-Simons Foundation in Los Altos, California. The Program Officer will manage the Foundation’s Early Education (ages birth to eight years) grantmaking with an emphasis on children’s educational transitions and learning trajectories from preschool through third grade. The position reports to the Education Program Director. Full details can be found in this PDF.
 
Interested applicants should send a resume, cover letter and salary information by email to martha@marthamontagbrown.com.

 

CEELO Update

Jim Squires, Senior Fellow at NIEER/CEELO, joined Beth Caron (AEM ELC-TA) and Shelley deFossett (EC TA) at the 2016 National Inclusion Institute in Chapel Hill, NC on May 11 to present Quality Matters: National Initiatives to Support Inclusion. Jim described how data from the NIEER State of Preschool Yearbook serves as a gauge for measuring progress on inclusion across states and the nation, enabling federal supports, and the direction forward to advance inclusion as an accepted, preferred educational practice. You can find a copy of his presentation here.

Calendar

May 26, 2016 - 12:01pm to May 28, 2016 - 12:01pm
Registration: Early bird deadline approaching! Register before the early bird deadline (4/15 at 11:59pm EST) and receive discounted conference registration. Also save money by becoming a member of ICIS before registering and take advantage of member benefits.
 
Pre-Conferences: We are happy to announce that there are 5 groups organizing pre-conferences on Wednesday May, 25th. Follow the link for more information on the 5 pre-conferences and other special events at the ICIS conference.
 
Program: The online program is now available. Be sure to check out the 2016 Invited Program for exciting sessions at this years’ conference.
 
For more information about the meeting please visit the ICIS website.
June 6, 2016 - 8:00am
You are invited to join the First Early Childhood Education Action Congress, hosted by the Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), to be held in Paris on June 6-7th, 2016.  This event will bring together 450 leaders from many countries to discuss how to build the political and public support needed to ensure that all children of the world get a good start in life.
 
Participants will discuss how to attract new advocates for early childhood, what messages are most effective in building support, and what programs can be scaled up to reach large populations of children.  The meeting location is the OECD headquarters at the historic Chateau de la Muette.  
 
For more information and registration, visit www.eduensemble.org. 
Monday, August 8, 2016 - 9:00am to Tuesday, August 9, 2016 - 5:00pm
Research Connections will be holding a free summer data workshop on the Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (Baby FACES) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on August 8-9. Baby FACES is a descriptive study of Early Head Start programs designed to inform policy and practice at both national and local levels. Baby FACES project leads from Mathematica Policy Research will instruct this two-day data training, which will introduce researchers to the study objectives, methods, instruments, key findings, and data structure. Throughout the day there will be hands-on time with the data files and structured exercises.
 
The workshop is free, but space is limited. Researchers interested in using the Baby FACES data to answer policy relevant questions in early care and education are encouraged to apply. Participants must have programming experience in one or more of the following software packages: SAS, Stata, or SPSS. In addition, participants should have experience using large, complex survey data. The application deadline is June 10, 2016.
 
Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 4:00pm to Friday, May 20, 2016 - 1:00pm
NHSA’s 43rd annual National Head Start Conference and Expo is the largest national event devoted to the Head Start and Early Head Start community. From May 16th - 20th, more than 5,000 executive directors, directors, administrators, managers, teachers, policy council members, and parents from every state and territory will gather in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Head Start and Early Head Start community is driven like none other to provide opportunities for success in the lives of our nation’s vulnerable children. Every year the Head Start community pulls together to discuss the latest developments, innovations, and obstacles in early learning and to inspire ideas for turning challenges into opportunities.
Beginning Head Start’s 51st year, we enter a new phase in Head Start’s history - and we find ourselves in the spotlight more than ever. The 2016 national conference provides the perfect opportunity to turn our sights and our imaginations toward the future and explore ways to drive Head Start’s mission even farther!

 

Early Education News Roundup

Friday, May 13, 2016
(New America EdCentral)

Today the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) released its 2015 State of Preschool yearbook. This annual report presents helpful data on the state of pre-K programs nationally as well as breakdowns of each state’s progress in providing high-quality pre-K services to three- and four-year-olds.

The report details modest gains in pre-K access, quality, and funding across the nation. Average state spending per child enrolled in pre-K increased by $287 in 2015 to a national average of $4,489 per child. This is the third straight year in which average spending has increased, though average spending levels are still lower than they were in 2002 and 2004 (as depicted below). Nationwide, state spending on pre-K rose by about $553 million in 2015, an increase of 10 percent. It’s important to note however, that two-thirds of this funding increase is the result of New York City’s rapid expansion of full-day pre-K under the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Friday, May 13, 2016
(Huffington Post)

Slowly but steadily, states are making progress in the number of students they serve in high-quality, state-funded pre-kindergarten programs. However, this progress is uneven, and leaves out droves of impressionable learners. On Thursday, the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University released its annual report on the state of preschool across America. The group has been tracking the number of children served by public preschool programs since the 2001-2002 school year. The latest report looks at the 2014 -2015 school year and presents an uneven picture of how the country is doing when it comes to serving little learners, although there are some bright spots. . . 

“State pre-K is still far from where it needs to be to ensure that all children receive a high quality education during the year (or two) before kindergarten,” says the report. “If young children are to receive the high quality education that leaves a sustained impact, state policies will have to change. Standards must be raised. Funding should be increased and stabilized. This will happen only if policy makers recognize that high quality pre-K is a necessity, not a luxury that can be passed over when the budget gets tight.”

Friday, May 13, 2016
(KSL.com)

 A study conducted by Rutgers University's National Institute for Early Education Research ranked Rhode Island 41st out of 43 states for the number of 4-year-olds enrolled in pre-kindergarten. The New Jersey university's "State of Preschool Report" judged state-funded preschool programs on class size, student-to-teacher ratio, length of instruction and other standards. Rhode Island was one of seven states to meet all of the institute's standards.

Friday, May 13, 2016
(Times Argus)

Vermont is No. 2 in the country for access to pre-kindergarten, according to a new Rutgers University report — and quality standards, though lagging last year, are expected to improve with the implementation of Act 166 this fall. Access to high-quality preschool is growing modestly nationwide, according to the annual State of Preschool report published by Rutgers National Institute for Early Education Research. But in Vermont, enrollment is shooting up rapidly.

“What stands out for me is the very rapid progress the Vermont has made in moving from a program that a decade ago enrolled only about a third of the kids and today is nearly universal,” NIEER director and Rutgers professor Steve Barnett said Wednesday. “The challenge now is for Vermont to make sure that every child gets a high-quality education.”

Friday, May 13, 2016
(Public News Service)

Virginia isn't doing a good job on early education, according to a new report that says the state continues to lose ground, both in terms of access and funding. Steve Barnett, director for the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, is one of the authors of "The State of Preschool 2015." He says Virginia's early ed funding was cut starting in the recession and is still falling. As a result, Barnett says fewer than one in five state preschoolers can get into a program.

"There's a wall - the kindergarten door," says Barnett. "On one side of it, every child's entitled. On the other - well, it's entirely discretionary. And unfortunately, that's where the biggest inequalities are." In a time of tight budgets, many state lawmakers say they have to make tough choices. Barnett agrees it can be hard to find the resources for good preschool. But he says Virginia already ranks in the lower half of states, and its ranking continues to erode. In the last budget, Gov. Terry McAuliffe increased school funding, but that was largely for public K-through-12 education. 

Friday, May 13, 2016
(89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio)

Even though California spent $45 million more on early education last year than it did the year before, the state only managed to enroll 298 more kids in preschool. That's one of the findings that led the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University to rate the state 28th for early education in its latest annual report.

The annual report is a national snapshot of how states are doing with preschool access and quality. For California it examined the state preschool program, which is available only to low-income children. (The California Department of Education does not count any four-year-old enrolled in Transitional Kindergarten (TK) in its preschool category, as it sees this as the first of a two-year kindergarten program, so TK students were not included in this report.)

California does best when it comes to the number of 3-year-olds in early education, ranking ninth in the nation. But it’s downhill from there.

Friday, May 13, 2016
(Chalkbeat Colorado)

Colorado has sunk closer to the bottom of the pack for state preschool funding, according to an annual report card released Thursday. The state, which spends a paltry amount on preschool per pupil compared to top-scorers like Washington, DC, dropped from 35 to 41 in 2015. Only South Carolina and Mississippi spent less per child than Colorado. Eight other states with no publicly funded preschool programs weren’t ranked. On a measure of 4-year-old preschool access, Colorado’s ranking stayed exactly the same: No. 22. That’s even with a small increase in 2015 in the number of 4-year-olds participating in the Colorado Preschool Program.

The state-by-state comparisons, put out by the National Institute for Early Education Research, also revealed that Colorado meets six of 10 benchmarks designed to judge preschool quality. That number—the same as neighboring Kansas and lower than Nebraska and New Mexico —is unchanged from the previous year.

Friday, May 13, 2016
(WCPO Cincinnati)

A new national report says thousands of three- and four-year-olds are missing out on a valuable pre-K education. The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University says the country's preschools are in dire need of funding. But, at the Educare Denver School and Clayton Early Learning, students are bucking the trend.

"You may hear children using language you'd expect to hear in a science lab," said Charlotte Brantley, President and CEO of Clayton Early Learning. "Things like I'm going to do a study. I'm going to investigate something." The NIEER report includes state-by-state rankings for 2014-2015. New York made notable progress to increase enrollment and funding.

Friday, May 13, 2016
(My Statesman)

After seeing minimal academic improvement among its youngest learners, the Manor school district is pumping an additional $1.2 million into its prekindergarten program.

Beginning in August, the 4-year-olds enrolled in prekindergarten will get a full day of class, as the district does away with half-day pre-K programs and adds more one-on-one time, more science and more math. The district will end its half-day program for 3-year-olds, hoping that more class time and resources spent on the older children will pay off. A new national study published Thursday concludes that smaller class sizes, high teacher quality, analysis of results and fine-tuning of prekindergarten programs to make them work better — such as the steps Manor is taking — is the kind of quality control that’s not happening nearly enough in Texas.

As school districts across Texas look to prekindergarten as a way to help children from low-income families more quickly catch up to their more affluent peers, the study by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University has found the state is missing the mark.

Friday, May 13, 2016
(The Washington Post)

Universal quality pre-kindergarten has been gaining support around the country for years now, with solid research showing that it has real and lasting benefits for children — despite what critics argue. But, according to a new report, there is a real problem  — while states are making real progress, others are moving at a snail’s pace.

The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University just released its “The State of Preschool 2015,” which details national and state-level data on preschool access and other issues. (You can read it in full here or below.) In this post, W. Steven Barnett, a Board of Governors professor and director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, writes about the report’s findings. You can also see key findings at the bottom of the post.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The more things change, the more they stay the same. At least that's my takeaway from the National Institute for Early Education Research's annual Pre-K Yearbook, released today. For over a decade, NIEER's Yearbook has offered the most comprehensive national picture of state-funded pre-K policies, funding and access nationally. If you want to know how many states fund education for 3- and 4-year-olds, how many kids they serve, how much they spend or what kinds of entities can offer pre-K – this is the place to look.

This year's edition, which covers data from the 2014-15 school year, finds little change in national pre-K access from the previous year. A few states – most significantly New York – expanded access to pre-K in 2014-15, but cuts in other states largely counterbalanced this growth. This is becoming a pattern. After growing rapidly in the 2000s, state pre-K programs consistently served about 29 percent of 4-year-olds nationally from 2010-2015. The apparent stability in pre-K access reflects underlying instability at the state level, however. Each year some states cut funds and enrollment while others increase them, and year-to-year pre-K funding often fluctuates significantly within individual states.

Friday, May 13, 2016
(NPR)

An annual study shows Arkansas dropped from a ranking of 13 to 22 among states in the nation devoting resources to pre-kindergarten education. The National Institute for Early Education Research found that spending increased for pre-K nationwide in 2015 compared to the previous year, but Arkansas saw about a $1,255 decrease in spending per child despite having about 3,400 more kids enrolled in a pre-K program.

Steve Barnett, director of the NIEER, says the per-child funding decrease hasn’t always been the case. “Historically, Arkansas has been a leader [in offering pre-K]. Arkansas has had greater access for four-year olds and especially three-year olds. But what’s happened since 2008, really, is that the program hasn’t had substantial real increase in funding,” he says. According to the NIEER, last year the state spent $4,372 for every child enrolled in a pre-K program. That was down from a high of $6,165 in 2006.

Friday, May 13, 2016
(WTVY)

For the tenth year in a row, Alabama’s state-funded, high-quality and voluntary First Class Pre-K program was named the nation’s highest quality pre-kindergarten program. Today’s announcement was made by the National Institute for Early Childhood Education, which annually ranks state pre-k programs for quality based on ten measures. Alabama’s voluntary pre-k program is one of only ten states in the nation to meet or exceed all ten NIEER benchmarks, and only the second state to do so in ten consecutive years. Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program is managed by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.

The Alabama School Readiness Alliance and its Pre-K Task Force, which advocates for the expansion of Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program, applauded today’s announcement while pointing out that too many families who want to enroll their four-year-old in the program still lack access to a classroom in their community. “We congratulate state leaders and Alabama First Class Pre-K teachers for building and maintaining the nation's highest quality pre-k program," said Bob Powers, president of The Eufaula Agency and the co-chair of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance. "It takes a strong commitment from everyone involved to reach this milestone for ten consecutive years."

Thursday, May 12, 2016
(Education Week)

Total spending on public preschool has surpassed pre-recession levels for the first time since the 2008 downturn, adjusting for inflation, according to the latest data release from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), a think tank in New Jersey focused on early education. 

The 42 states with public preschool programs and the District of Columbia spent $6.2 billion to serve 1.4 million 3- and 4-year-olds in the 2014-15 school year. Total enrollment increased by a single percentage point, from 28 percent to 29 percent of 4-year-olds and from 4 percent to 5 percent of 3-year-olds, since 2010.

"This year's rate of progress is not enough to bring high quality pre-K to every child any time soon," the report concludes.

Some states are making big strides, though. New York City's new universal preschool programfor 4-year-olds had a notable impact on this year's findings. The city alone enrolled more than 12,000 additional children in preschool in 2014-15. Including enrollment increases outside the state capital, New York state accounted for two-thirds of the national spending increase and enrolled 5 percent more children in 2014-15 than in 2013-14.

The District of Columbia, Florida,Oklahoma, Vermont, and West Virginia lead the country in preschool access for 4-year-olds. Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming continue to not have a state preschool program, though several of these states do have local, district-based programs.

Thursday, May 12, 2016
(ABC News)

The number of 3- and 4-year-olds in state-funded classrooms rose slightly during the 2014-15 school year to almost 1.4 million, according to a national preschool report released Thursday.

The report from the National Institute for Early Education Research found a wide range in per-pupil spending and quality of programs, with New Jersey spending $12,149 for each child enrolled in pre-K compared with $2,304 in Florida and $1,981 in South Carolina.

Total enrollment in 2014-2015 increased by 37,167 from the previous year.

Enrollment in state-funded preschool dipped in several states, including Texas, Florida and Wisconsin.

"States announce that they're making some initiative and then the next year they take a couple of steps backward," said Steve Barnett, director of the early education institute, which is based at Rutgers University in New Jersey. "If states simply never went backward, the rates of progress would be much, much faster."

The institute, which advocates for early childhood education, is under contract with the National Center for Education Statistics to conduct an annual preschool survey.

The report tracks quality measures such as class sizes and teacher-training requirements. Several states including California, Florida and Texas do not require preschool teachers to have a college degree.

Thursday, May 12, 2016
(Santa Fe New Mexican)

A new report on early childhood education lauds New Mexico, a state that regularly ranks at the bottom of national surveys on child well-being, for increasing its investments in pre-kindergarten programs and increasing its pre-K enrollment.

The state moved up 10 spots in the 2015 State Preschool Yearbook, a report by the National Institute of Early Education Research at Rutgers University. New Mexico improved to 18 from 28 among states, largely because of its commitment to increasing funds for early education — one of the most divisive political issues in the state. Eight states, the report noted, weren’t included because they have no state preschool programs.

The report comes as state officials and early childhood advocates told lawmakers on the Legislative Finance Committee about plans to continue expanding the state’s pre-K programs.

The State Preschool Yearbook was released Thursday. According to an early draft obtained by The New Mexican on Wednesday, New Mexico PreK, the state’s early education program, met eight out of 10 minimum quality standards set by the institute. The report also gives the state credit for supporting dual-language programs at the pre-K level.

In 2014-15, New Mexico had 8,397 4-year-olds enrolled in pre-K programs — up 9.4 percent, or about 725 students, from the previous year. Total spending on pre-K, based on 2014-15 data, was almost $40 million.

 

Thursday, May 12, 2016
(Marketplace)

For publicly funded preschool, last year was a good year. In some schools.

The National Institute for Early Education Research has just released its annual The State of Preschool report. Spending per child is up, enrollment is up slightly and more states met the benchmarks for quality standards.

But that good report card depends on where you live.  

“Access to high-quality pre-K remains low and highly unequal,” said Steve Barnett, director of the the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Some states like New York are making major gains. "In two years, New York has achieved, in the expansion of high-quality, full-day pre-K, what the country as a whole might take 150 years to achieve," Barnett said. "And that really is a New York minute."

Oklahoma has provided universal pre-K for many years. And Washington, D.C. has moved to the head of the pack for raising its standards of quality. 

But three of the country’s largest states — California, Florida and Texas — have among the country’s weakest quality standards, the report says. And both Florida and Texas cut funding for public preschool last year and the year before. 

There are consequences for inadequate funding. “Kids who start a year, a year and a half behind, don’t catch up by third grade,” Barnett said.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
(PBS Newshour)

 A new report due out later this week from the National Institute on Early Education Research finds that a number of states are struggling to find ways to improve access to high quality pre-kindergarten.

Tonight, we look at a unique approach taken by a preschool in Seattle, Washington. It’s giving children life lessons that go beyond the classroom, and providing a unique opportunity to seniors.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
(International Business Times)

Babies do more than pee, poop, coo and cuddle. They also cost — a lot.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton took on the climbing cost of raising a child Tuesday in a package of proposals aimed at improving child care in the United States. Her plan, to be revealed at a campaign stop in Kentucky, would increase child care workers’ pay and expand home visit programs, the Huffington Post reported. It would also make it so no family spends more than 10 percent of its income on child care, which has been called the largest annual household expense for American families.

Clinton’s campaign hadn’t yet said Tuesday how it planned to pay for the plan, which an aide told the Wall Street Journal would include mixing federal spending with tax breaks. But the sheer fact that Clinton is introducing the topic into the 2016 presidential race could accomplish something on its own: ​It could spread more awareness about the high cost of child care. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
(U.S. News & World Report)

At first glance, the new poll results Gallup released last week on early childhood and higher education seem pretty straightforward. Reported with the headline "Americans Buy Free Pre-K; Split on Tuition-Free College," the poll found that 59 percent of Americans now support free early childhood programs while less than half (47 percent) support free college tuition. But a closer look behind Gallup's "Free Pre-K" headline reveals something peculiar: The poll didn't ask about pre-K. It asked about "child care and pre-kindergarten programs," encompassing a range of programs for children from birth to age 5. So in fact, Gallup has no idea if 59 percent of Americans support public pre-K, because their poll didn't ask that question.

This isn't the first time Gallup has gotten its headlines and questions confused in polls on early childhood. In 2014, it reported poll findings that "70% Favor Federal Funds To Expand Pre-K Education," concluding: "The public seems to agree with Obama's push for expanding preschool education in more areas of the country." A subsequent U.S. News & World Report article entitled "Americans Favor Federal Support of Pre-K" cited the poll as public backing of Obama's proposal to "make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old," adding an enthusiastic comment from Randi Weingarten, president of one of the two national teachers unions, reiterating broad support for adding pre-K to the nation's schools. But just like the 2016 version, the 2014 poll didn't ask respondents even one question about pre-K. What it did ask them was their views on "high-quality preschool programs," which include child care, home visiting and other early education programs for children from birth to age 5.

Monday, May 9, 2016
(The Columbia Chronicle)

A recent study from the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis highlights how students’ socioeconomic status and race relate to their educational development, according to an April 29 New York Times article.

The study indicates that students low on the socioeconomic spectrum perform as much as three grade levels behind where they should be. It also revealed race-related disparities in grade levels even among students of the same socioeconomic background.

Monday, May 9, 2016
(Cincinnati.com)

Half of Bobbie Hedrick's salary goes towards paying for daycare. "As a single parent, I can attest to how difficult it is to make ends meet with the high costs (of child care)," she said.The Warsaw, Kentucky resident said she spends roughly $750 a month just to make sure her two kids have quality supervision while she is at work. The cost and availability of child care doesn't affect only those with children in daycare. It's one of two key reasons why all kinds of companies across the Cincinnati region are having a hard time finding the right candidates to fill the area's 25,000 unfilled jobs. (The other overarching local problem, no matter the sector in which an employer operates, is a lack of public transportation to job sites.)

Monday, May 9, 2016
(Columbia Daily Tribune)

Raise Your Hand for Kids turned in 320,000 signatures Saturday to place its proposal on the November ballot. The petition needs about 168,000 signatures from registered voters. If passed by voters, it would raise about $300 million annually, with the bulk of the funds going to grants supporting pre-kindergarten education programs offered by public schools and private organizations.

About a quarter of the money will go to health programs for young children and smoking cessation programs.

Sunday, May 8, 2016
(San Antonio Express News)

With Elmo and Cookie Monster in his corner, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro is hoping to boost support for pre-kindergarten programs across the country with a bipartisan caucus that draws on San Antonio’s experiences with childhood learning.

Castro, D-San Antonio, is spearheading the new Congressional Pre-K Caucus at a time when states and localities are struggling to fund pre-K programs and skepticism still exists.

Sunday, May 8, 2016
(Times Daily)

The expansion of the state’s pre-kindergarten program could mean more classes offered to local 4-year-olds.

The Alabama Legislature approved a $16 million expansion of the state’s voluntary First Class Pre-K program, with funding coming from the Education Trust Fund budget.

Gov. Robert Bentley originally asked for a $20 million increase, but Pre-K advocates said they are pleased with the $16 million appropriation which, combined with a $17.5 million federal Preschool Development Grant, will add 155 additional classrooms around the state for next school year.

 

 

Friday, May 6, 2016
(The Huffington Post [Op-Ed])

Early educators are quite literally shaping the future - our children’s future, our families’ future, and the future of our economy—and they’re a key part of our nation’s teaching workforce. Indeed, the National Academies of Sciences asserts that working with children under five requires as complex knowledge and skills as teaching older children. Yet our nation’s early educators are often struggling to feed their own families due to stagnant, unlivable wages. Many child care workers earn only the minimum wage. The median wage for all child care workers didn’t reach $15.00 per hour in a single state. Not surprisingly, early educators report high levels of economic worry. A study in one state found that nearly 50 percent of teachers reported worrying about having enough food for their families, including many teachers who had a college degree. According to the most recent, comprehensive national study, the median wage for an early educator with a bachelor’s degree or higher working in center-based programs was just $13.50 per hour.

Nearly one half of those employed as child care workers live in families relying on at least one federal income support, such as food stamps, to augment their low wages and meet their families’ needs — this is double the national average for workers in the U.S. Reliance on these supports is highest among those with children under five.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
(ESchool News)

Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES), a developer of digital fabrication laboratories (fab labs) and STEM curriculum and school design, has been named a partner in the Federal government’s new Early Education STEM initiative.

TIES is among a group of leaders who participated in April’s Early Learning Symposium hosted by The White House, in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services and Invest in US. The event highlighted the importance of promoting active STEM learning for our youngest children and to celebrate a broad range of public- and private-sector leaders committed to promoting STEM learning across the country.

In March 2016, The Bay Area Discovery Museum, in partnership with TIES and FableVision, launched the world’s first Fab Lab for young learners (ages 3 to 10) to help them navigate the design process from concept to production, and turn their ideas into reality.

Building on this work, TIES has made a commitment to bring early childhood Fab Labs to schools, daycares, museums and other settings serving the country’s youngest learners. As part of this initiative, TIES, in partnership with The Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) at Virginia Tech, will prototype these labs in two Head Start programs with the intent to build a scalable model that will enable all Head Starts throughout the country to have early childhood Fab Labs.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
(Thomas B. Fordham Institute)

Under President Obama’s stewardship, initiatives to expand access to high-quality early childhood programs have sparked heated political debate. Aiming to ground policy makers and education leaders in this conversation, a recent report from the American Enterprise Institute examines the effectiveness of early childhood education by analyzing and summarizing studies of the country’s ten best-known pre-K programs. It finds that high-quality pre-K works for some students, but the research is inconclusive as to whether it’s beneficial for all.

The report starts with an overview of the four most common research methodologies used to evaluate pre-K programs. These include assessing a program’s long-term impact with Randomized Control Trials, i.e., randomly assigning students to either a program (treatment) or non-program (control) group to measure differences in outcomes; comparing results for participating pre-K students against those for children who were eligible for pre-K but did not enroll; comparing results for participating students with a comparison group based on observable characteristics; and comparing outcomes for pre-K participants before and after the program.

One of the most positive takeaways from the research is that low-income children reap short-term and long-term benefits from high-quality pre-K programs. In Boston’s program, for example, students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch showed larger gains in math and cognitive skills when entering kindergarten. Low-income, high-risk children who attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Abecedarian Project were three times more likely to have earned a college degree—and 42 percent more likely to be employed full-time—than those who did not. And researchers focusing on the Perry Preschool Program in Ypsilanti, Michigan, noticed positive impacts on educational attainment and employment for low-income students. At age twenty-seven, male and female graduates were at least 30 percent more likely to receive their high school diploma or GED.

Thursday, May 5, 2016
(U.S. News & World Report)

If a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members, the United States just received an incredibly unflattering judgment. A new study published by the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund, or UNICEF, ranked the wealthiest countries of the world by the well-being of their most disadvantaged children. Out of 41 countries, the U.S. ranked No. 18 overall. For context, the U.S. ranks No. 1 in total wealth. The study took a comprehensive approach, comparing the gap between children at the very bottom to those in the middle across a range of criteria – including household income, educational achievement and self-reported health and life satisfaction. The central question was this: How far do countries let those at the very bottom fall? In the United States, the answer seems to be distressingly far. . .

Investments in programs like guaranteed universal early childhood education, or pre-K, could improve prospects for children at the bottom. Currently the United States ranks No. 26 in preschool participation and No. 21 in total investment in early childhood education relative to country wealth. Universal pre-K is not a radical idea. President Obama proposed such a plan in his 2013 State of the Union address. And earlier this year, I coauthored a plan for how it could be funded by closing the carried interest loophole, a tax break for hedge fund managers so egregious that even Donald Trump says he supports closing it. Unfortunately, the prospects for passing that plan in the near term look grim. On a further sour note, even universal pre-K wouldn't close the gap between kids from affluent families and those from poorer families.