Volume 15, Issue 14

Friday, July 15, 2016

Hot Topics

NIEER’s research was featured prominently in a July 12 article by The Hechinger Report titled "What do we invest in the country's youngest? Little to nothing." The Hechinger data shows how each program ranked based on implementation of 15 "essential elements." 

The NIEER research, conducted for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, evaluates individual programs in 41 states (some states such as New Jersey include more than one program) and several cities for 15 “essential elements” that must be present for high quality pre-K to be implemented at scale. Ratings apply to policies as of June 30, 2016.

Nearly every industrialized country--except the U.S--offers a version of universal public preschool, putting us decades and dollars behind the rest of the developed world, Hechinger reported. At least a dozen major cities have recently started high-quality universal preschool programs, Hechinger reports. States are collectively spending more on early education year-over-year, according to NIEER. And this fiscal year, Congress even increased federal spending on early childhood by about $1 billion. There is a push for more and better preschool options.

The Early Childhood Workforce Index represents the first effort to establish a baseline description of early childhood employment conditions and policies in every state and to track progress on a state-by-state basis to improve early childhood jobs. Providing states with periodic appraisals of their efforts, based on measurable status and policy indicators, is aimed at encouraging states to step up their efforts to address these persistent workforce challenges and at supporting related advocacy efforts. See your state's profile here

Since 1990, state and local government spending on prisons and jails has grown more than three times faster than spending for pre-K through grade twelve, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

“Budgets reflect our values, and the trends revealed in this analysis are a reflection of our nation’s priorities that should be revisited,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “For far too long, systems in this country have continued to perpetuate inequity. We must choose to make more investments in our children’s future. We need to invest more in prevention than in punishment, to invest more in schools, not prisons.”

More than half of federal inmates and nearly 70 percent of state and local jail inmates did not complete high school--and that number is growing, according to a 2013 report from the Alliance for Excellent Education,which publicized the ED report.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

The Pre-K Home Companion is due to be released at the end of the month. The book is a nice addition to Kaufman, Kaufman, and Nelson’s Learning Together: The Law, Politics, Economics, Pedagogy, and Neuroscience of Early Childhood Education. The latter provides a strong argument for investing in early childhood programs, emphasizing the educational, social, and economic benefits for children and the US as a whole, while the Pre-K Home Companion is targeted specifically toward families who seek to answer the question, which Early Childhood program is best for my family?

Resources

Kaufman, Kaufman, and Nelson’s Pre-K Home Companion is due to be released in the coming few weeks. It is targeted specifically toward families who seek to answer the question, which Early Childhood program is best for my family? We provide a review of the book on our blog.

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics published America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2016. The Forum fosters coordination, collaboration, and integration of Federal efforts to collect, analyze, and report data on conditions and trends related to child and family well-being.The report provides the most recent statistics on children and families in the United States across all 41 report indicators, covering a range of domains: family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health. This year the brief also highlights selected indicators by race and ethnicity.

The cost of child care in every state rivals families’ annual expenditures on housing, transportation and the cost of tuition at a four-year, public university. Further, in 38 states, the cost of infant care exceeds 10 percent of the state’s median income for a two-parent family, according to the new Child Care in America: 2016 Fact Sheets report. Ensuring that all children have access to high quality and affordable early childhood programs is essential; however, in every state, this type of care can be hard to find and difficult to afford. Although the reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act has raised the floor for health and safety standards and encourages quality programming for all child care settings, there is still much work to be done, the report concludes.

The Urban Institute is out with two new reports finding that poor preschool attendance is often a predictor of attendance problems in elementary school. Nearly half of children who missed 10-20 percent of pre-K had attendance problems in kindergarten. About a quarter of children still had problems in 2nd grade. On the flipside, more than three quarters of students who had satisfactory attendance in preschool had satisfactory attendance in kindergarten, first grade and second grade. More here: http://urbn.is/29bJIkf and here: http://urbn.is/296tTsT.

Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek recently published Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children, which sets out to help parents cultivate the skills needed to succeed. Read more here

Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade is a practice guide is geared towards teachers, administrators, and other educators. It provides four recommendations for teaching foundational reading skills to students in kindergarten through 3rd grade. Each recommendation includes implementation steps and solutions for common obstacles.

All Education Schools published a new Early Childhood Education Resource comprised of a comprehensive library of websites, blogs, webinars, research and tools for those in the field or looking to join the field.

Calendar

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.
 

Early Education News Roundup

Monday, June 27, 2016
(SC Now)

When the Abbeville v. South Carolina case proceedings began in 1993, there were a number of grievances that plaintiff districts aired: facilities, transportation, teacher recruitment, student achievement. Nowhere on that original list was early childhood education.

But when a trial court gave its ruling in 2006, it said that areas like facilities and achievement had adequate funding structures, but called out “the State’s failure to fund early childhood intervention programs.”

In response, the General Assembly created and has given funding to the South Carolina Child Development Program since its pilot legislation in 2006. Still, some are worried that pre-K children in rural areas, including the Pee Dee, are not given great opportunities to access child care.

 

Monday, June 27, 2016
(Fulton Sun)

Before last week, Missouri was the only state in the nation that prohibited quality rating systems for preschools. However, Gov. Jay Nixon signed a law Wednesday that allows early childhood education centers to opt into a voluntary quality rating system.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is still working out the details, but the rating system could include staff qualifications, safety standards, instructional quality, parental engagement and community involvement, according to a news release.
 
Having a quality rating system will make it easier for parents to assess which preschool they want their child to attend, and it should aid the state in its goal to improve early childhood education.
 
 
Monday, June 27, 2016
(The Cape Cod Chronicle)

Perhaps Plato got it right. Twenty-four centuries ago the Greek philosopher declared that, “The beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of the young...”

Educators and leadership within the Cape Cod Collaborative and the Dennis-Yarmouth and Monomoy Regional School Districts couldn’t agree more. The regional school districts, with the Cape Cod Collaborative, have partnered with private preschools to improve access to quality preschool education for all three- and four-year-olds across Chatham, Dennis, Harwich, and Yarmouth.

“Access to quality, early education is critical to a child’s success,” says Jan Rotella, Cape Cod Collaborative Grant Manager. Rotella cites a multi-year study of New Jersey’s Abbott Preschool Program, which shows the significant, positive impact that preschool education programs have on a child’s academic skills in language arts and literacy, mathematics, and science.

Today, not all Cape Cod children have the opportunity to attend quality preschool programs. “Cape-wide, we have an estimated 35 percent of children entering kindergarten with no preschool experience,” says Dr. Christopher Martes, head of the Boston education advocacy group Strategies for Children. “This represents a glaring need for improved access to quality preschool programs.”

Monday, June 27, 2016
(Washington Monthly)

When the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recently released its annual summary of state-funded pre-K programs, they found only modest gains in pre-K access, quality, and funding for three- and four-year-olds across the country. While average state spending per child enrolled in pre-K increased by $287 in 2015 to a national average of $4,489 per child, this funding level still represents a decrease from 2002-2004 levels.

This lack of state investment in pre-K is a major reason why so few three- and four-year-olds are able to access these programs. NIEER’s report found that only 29 percent of four-year-olds and five percent of three-year-olds are currently enrolled in state pre-K programs. Steve Barnett, NIEER’s Director, pointed out that if this slow rate of growth in pre-K access continues “it will be another 50 years before states can reach all low-income children at age four.”

Stagnant state funding of pre-K coupled with strong evidence of the benefits derived from pre-K programs has led an increasing number of cities across the country to generate local revenue to fund early education programs, including pre-K. A new financing toolkit created by the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation and North Carolina Budget and Tax Center is making it easier for cities to do just that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016
(wane.com)

Two top Indiana Democrats on the ballot this November released a plan Thursday for developing a state-funded preschool program that would be available to all Indiana children regardless of family income.

Former House Speaker John Gregg, who is running for governor, and state schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz said their joint proposal would direct $150 million to a universal pre-K program that would be paid for with existing money. Funding for the program would come from reprioritizing some state spending and rededicating money budgeted for other programs that goes unspent.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
(SCPR)

More than 260 preschool and child care centers in L.A. County are losing a key funding source this month, sending teachers, parents and providers scrambling to fill the gap.

The loss of funds is not a surprise. It's the result of an expiring contract between the non-profit Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) -- which funds the programs -- and the group First 5 L.A., which allocates money from California's Prop 10 tobacco tax. 

The preschools and child care centers had been receiving funds from the contract for more than a decade. Now there's uncertainty about whether some will stay open.

"It becomes an economic impact," said Celia Ayala, CEO of LAUP. "Not only for the future of the children, but for the future of many people who work in early care and education."

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
(NPR)

A new report, out today, provides 186 pages of answers to one of the toughest questions in education:

What does it take to get preschool right?

Parents and politicians alike want to know. States are spending roughly $7 billion this year on early childhood education, despite the fact that there are more cautionary tales — like this one from Tennessee — than success stories.

Today's release from The Learning Policy Institute, "The Road to High-Quality Early Learning: Lessons from the States," helps balance the preschool debate by highlighting a handful of states that appear to be getting pre-K right: Michigan, West Virginia, Washington and North Carolina.

Thursday, June 30, 2016
(Trib Live)

Pittsburgh needs $20 million annually to meet a goal of enrolling every income-eligible child in high-quality preschool, officials said Tuesday. Mayor Bill Peduto suggested that the city, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Pennsylvania and local foundations and corporations commit to sharing the costs for 10 years.

“I'm 100 percent behind what you're doing here,” Peduto told educators and community leaders during a public forum chaired by City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak of Carrick. “Once you come up with the plan, I will work as the salesman to sell it.” Peduto described preschool education as the “most important issue to reduce crime in Pittsburgh.” He had listed preschool education as one of his main goals while running for office in 2013. In 2014, he empaneled a group to assess the situation.

Thursday, June 30, 2016
(The Seattle Times)

A new national report holds up Washington state’s 31-year-old preschool program for low-income families as one of the best in the country, weathering good economic times and bad without sacrificing quality. It points to recent studies that have shown that the percentage of kids ready for kindergarten after attending Washington’s program exceeds the state average and that the students’ improvement in reading and math persists through fifth grade. . .

But money isn’t the only hurdle. Doubling enrollment in the preschool program will require 640 new classrooms and as many new teachers, according to the report. The state is short on preschool teachers because many are moving to K-12 schools, as those schools hire more staff to provide a full day of kindergarten and reduce class sizes in grades K-3, which also has been required by lawmakers. The state hopes that it can create incentives for more child-care providers to get the training they need to teach in the preschool program.

Friday, July 1, 2016
(Hechinger Report)

Toy building blocks aren’t an unusual sight in a preschool classroom. But teachers aren’t typically using them in a physics lesson about force and gravity with their four-year-olds.That’s largely because teachers aren’t comfortable with introducing young children to science, according to a group of educators committed to helping elementary school teachers become better at teaching STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – in the early grades. Last week, representatives from 11 educational institutions from across the country came together to tackle this challenge: promoting active STEM learning in the early education years, from preschool to third grade. That effort starts with finding ways to support classroom teachers and help them get students on the path toward understanding higher-level concepts in the upper grades.

Friday, July 1, 2016
(Idyllwild Town Crier)

On Monday, June 27, Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed the legislative bill establishing the state budget for fiscal year 2016-17, which begins July 1. “This solid budget makes responsible investments in California and sets aside billions of dollars to prepare for the next recession,” said Brown in a press release. Total state spending is estimated to be $170.9 billion, of which $122.5 will come from the General Fund. . .

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said in a statement, “The budget the governor just signed reflects the Assembly’s top priorities, including lifting families out of poverty, increasing access to early childhood education and making college more accessible for California students. This balanced, on-time budget — which also responsibly grows the state’s Rainy Day Fund — is the result of hundreds of hours of public hearings. That shows the budget process is working and our final product means California is in stronger fiscal shape than we have been for years.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2016
(FIU News)

It’s past time to boost our investment in early childhood education. Educators who care for our children from birth to third grade have a pivotal role in preparing our children for school, but as a society we’re letting them down. A recent report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor suggests that low wages in the early childcare workforce are undermining the quality of early childhood education. Across the country, teachers are underpaid, but the data from the report highlight what early childhood advocates know to be shockingly true. Pay for the early childcare workforce is shameful.

A childcare worker trying to support a family of three would be earning below the poverty level in 32 states, according to the report. How can that be? How can we tout the value of early education while paying some of our educators little more than a parking garage attendant? The research on the value of high quality early childcare is clear. Children with positive early experiences are more likely to demonstrate long-term success, both socially and academically. This is especially true for economically disadvantaged populations, for whom early learning experiences may be particularly critical. Yet the financial investment needed to support this effort is glaringly absent.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016
(My Statesman)

The state has awarded 578 school districts and charters more than $116 million in grants to boost their prekindergarten programs in the upcoming school year.

Ten Central Texas school districts, including Austin, Round Rock and Leander, received some of the funds. House Bill 4, one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature laws passed last legislative session, promised to make funds available to boost the quality of early education across the state.

Awarded districts will see an extra $734 per prekindergarten student on top of the $3,600 in regular state funding.

To qualify for the grant, school districts had to promise to hire teachers with multiple credentials, improve family engagement and to report in detail academic performance.

Friday, July 8, 2016
(The Seattle Times)

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is shrinking the projected number of children the city’s preschool program will serve during its trial period, he said Thursday. Before Seattle voters approved a $58 million property-tax levy in 2014 to pay for the program’s first four years, city officials had projected about 280 children would be served in the 2015-2016 school year, then ramp up to about 2,000 children in 2018-2019. Now Murray is projecting the program will reach 1,615 children by its fourth year. That’s because the city will begin paying the program’s preschool providers more money per child, he said.

Officials are having trouble recruiting additional providers to join the program, said City Councilmember Tim Burgess, a leader in the push for city-funded preschool. “This is why we first launched the Seattle Preschool Program as a pilot program that would allow us to make adjustments,” Murray said in a statement Thursday. “The big lesson learned after year one is that we need to make it more attractive for providers to participate in the program, including reducing barriers and enhancing the providers’ financial incentives and the per-child investment,” the mayor added, saying quality instruction is his priority.

Friday, July 8, 2016
(WValways.com)

"Everyone wants their children to have a good head start,” said Holyfield. It's a goal that is becoming more and more attainable for three and four-year-olds in our state. Recent studies show that West Virginia is a step above the majority of other states when it comes to providing early childhood education. "The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University has established a set of quality benchmarks for looking at the different states' universal pre-K programs. We are one of six states in the nation that actually meet all 10 of those quality benchmarks,” said Monica DellaMea, executive director of the Office of Early Learning for the West Virginia Department of Education.

Officials from the West Virginia Department of Education said it's been a 15-year journey. "We took 10 years to build the system, and starting in 2012-2013, the state required that legislation required that every four year old who wanted a space, whose family wanted a space for them in the state's universal Pre-K program, would have a free space, and every three year old who had an individualized education plan, would also have a space as well,” said DellaMea. Legislators began by making sure both quality and access were addressed in state policy, which helped to lay the foundation for this program.

Friday, July 8, 2016
(U.S. News & World Report)

Early childhood education in the U.S. is a disaster, and policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia do little to address the low wages and economic insecurity among teachers and the lack of affordable, high-quality services for children. Those are the findings at the heart of a new report released Thursday by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley – the first comprehensive state-by-state analysis of early education employment conditions and policies.

"Early educators’ skills, knowledge, and well-being are inseparable from the quality of children’s early learning experiences," said Marcy Whitebook, director of the Berkley center and one of the study’s authors. "But states are failing to provide the combination of appropriate compensation, professional work environments, and training teachers need to help children succeed."

Among many other things in the 120-page report, early education policies across the U.S. fall short on a number of measurable indicators, including pay, professional development, paid planning time, paid sick leave, and other policies that impact the ability of early educators to teach effectively and remain on the job.

Friday, July 8, 2016
(Chicago Tribune)

Nearly half of child care workers in Illinois are part of families that rely on public assistance, according to a new report that calls for long-overdue action to improve the wages of the people tasked with caring for kids in the earliest years of their lives. Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley on Thursday released the first of what they expect to be a biennial state-by-state analysis assessing the workforce conditions in early childhood education. Despite growing recognition of the importance of early education in kids' development and efforts to improve quality of care, there has been spotty progress in improving the quality of early childhood educators' jobs, the report said.

"Poor employment conditions, not unlike those identified 50 years ago, remain the norm," Marcy Whitebook, director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley, said on a conference call with reporters. In Illinois, child care workers earned a median hourly wage of $10.50 in 2015, up 1 percent from five years before. Forty-six percent of them are in families on some sort of public assistance, including more than a quarter that are on food stamps.

Preschool teachers earned $13.79 an hour, flat from 2010. Kindergarten teachers fare significantly better, earning $23.42 an hour, up 3 percent from 2010 and close to the median elementary-school wage of $26.60. Illinois is in line with much of the nation, where hourly wages for child care workers range from $8.72 in Mississippi to $12.24 in New York. Nearly 36,000 people are in the early-childhood teaching workforce in Illinois.

Monday, July 11, 2016
(Education News)

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has created an overview of the criteria with which preschool teachers need to be equipped for assisting the country’s youngest children in getting a good start.

Hannah Putman, Amber Moorer, and Kate Walsh of the council have written Some Assembly Required: Piecing Together the Preparation Preschool Teachers Need. The authors report that some studies note that kids who attend preschool have lower rates of requiring special education services, receive higher test scores, attend and graduate from college at higher rates, and are likely to have fewer health problems.

Other studies, according to the NCTQ, have shown that the cost of preschool programs outweigh the benefits since the gains fall away after a few years, resulting in some students who attended preschool doing even worse than their classmates who did not.

Monday, July 11, 2016
(Rutland Herald)

Vermont has become the first state to provide publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs to all 3- and 4-year-olds as of this month, state officials say. 

The law requires Vermont communities to offer at least 10 hours a week of free, high quality preschool for 35 weeks per year to children in that age group. Previously, some districts offered publicly funded preschool voluntarily. 

The 10 hours of free preschool has helped parents, like those whose children attend Annette’s Preschool, in Hinesburg.

Adam Charlton and his wife wanted their then-4-year-old son, Oliver, to be in a school-like environment before he entered kindergarten. But, they said they couldn’t have afforded it without the extra help. 

“He learned a lot,” Charlton said. “It’s a great program and I’m super glad the state decided to pass that law. It’s definitely helpful.” 

The office of Gov. Peter Shumlin says more than 70 percent of Vermont children under age 6 have working parents, so universal pre-K is critical to supporting working families.

Monday, July 11, 2016
(Post Register)

Programs such as Disney’s are offered throughout the Gem State. But placing your child in one can be expensive. Idaho is among five states nationally that don’t fund preschool despite the proven benefits it can offer. Though the Legislature did boost education funding by $107 million last session, preschool was ignored. Idaho has the highest rate of preschool-age children absent from the classroom: 69 percent, according to the 2016 Kids Count Data BookAnd only 59 percent of Idaho’s K-3 children — 52 percent of kindergartners — hit the Idaho Reading Indicator benchmark in the fall of 2015. Many early education advocates believe that number could be improved if more children were enrolled in preschool.

At Kids Korner tuition runs $115 per week, which can be a burden for many families already struggling to make ends meet, especially if they’re enrolling more than one child. And for some preschools, tuition doesn’t even provide enough funds to hire qualified teachers. “I think Idaho is behind almost all the other states by at least three to four years in early childhood education,” Disney said. “To work at a preschool you don’t even have to technically be a teacher.”

Monday, July 11, 2016
(WIBQ)

The battle for quality Pre-K education in Indiana continues as the November election draws near. Governor Mike Pence had pushed for a pilot program called On My Way Pre-K, but then rejected millions of dollars in federal funding. Pence is in a tough battle for re-election, and has expressed renewed interest in the federal money. State Superintendent of Schools Glenda Ritz, who's also running in November, is the only Democrat elected to statewide office in Indiana. She wants a universal Pre-K education program that would offer free preschool to all students, regardless of family income. Ted Maple, president and CEO of Early Learning Indiana, said right now Hoosier children are missing out on quality education.

On My Way Pre-K began in 2015 in Allen, Lake, Marion, Jackson and Vanderburgh counties. Pence has said he wanted to make sure it worked before applying for federal funds. Ritz said Indiana is "years behind" because of Pence's "political showboating."