Early Education in the News
When Jeb Bush called for attention to be paid to early childhood education, scrutiny of Florida's mixed record on the issue probably isn't what he had in mind. . .
As Politico reported, Bush boasted about Florida's pre-K system while criticizing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's pre-K program. Florida's program is a cheaper, privately driven alternative, Bush said, to a New York system that benefits teacher's unions and bureaucrats.
Bush is right to be proud on one count: Florida ranks among the best states in the nation in the reach of its pre-K program, providing access to about 80 percent of 4 year olds, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. But the same group found that Florida's pre-K standards are among the lowest in the nation, meeting just three of the institute's 10 quality recommendations.
“Florida's young children will not be well served until the state's leaders give quality the same attention they have devoted to providing access,” Steven Barnett, the institute's director, told the Florida Times-Union.
The Florida Children and Youth Cabinet voted Thursday to send a letter to state leaders, urging them to prioritize early-childhood education, intervention and other services for “the first 1,000 days” from pregnancy to age 3.
“These are the years of 85 percent of a child’s brain growth, and are immensely important to childhood development,” draft language said.
Many children are about to start school for the first time, but doctors say the key to successful learning may be found long before children enter a classroom. In the first years of life, according to pediatricians, children's brains develop at a remarkable rate, and developmental problems often are detectable well before a child reaches school age. Dr. Dina Lieser, co-director of Docs for Tots and director of community pediatrics at Nassau Community Medical Center, said it's something that should be part of regular health care.
Less than two weeks from the first year of universal preschool, interest in the city-funded program has well exceeded expectations. Seattle officials said they weren't sure how many families would apply, but the city has received four times as many applications as there are spaces available.
Universal preschool is a chance for children to start out on the right path, according to the city. It’s an investment for children that will cost Seattle $55 million over the next four years.
“The opportunity means it’s available, it’s accessible and it’s affordable,” said Sid Sidorowicz, Seattle’s deputy director of education and early learning.
A Down Payment on the Preschool Promise – 4C for Children pitched this plan, which would create a foundation for the educational future of children through Cincinnati Preschool Promise. The still-in-development organization aims to ensure every child in the region has access to two years of high-quality, affordable preschool regardless of income.
For parents with multiple kids under one roof, being poor has a compounding effect. That’s why in America, children make up 23 percent of the population but 33 percent of all people in poverty.
If that isn’t staggering enough, those children are concentrated together at school. 25 percent of the nation’s school districts contain 82 percent of children living in poverty. And the communities defined by those districts have swollen since the Great Recession. In 2006, there were 15.9 million studentsliving within school districts where the overall child poverty rate was 20 percent or higher. In 2013, there were 26.3 million—a stunning 60 percent increase over just seven years.
Now, that doesn’t meant that all 26.3 million of them are living in poverty, or even attending public school. But it does mean that about half of all U.S. children live in places where a significant number of families are just scraping by.
Supporting early education and growth for at-risk children has been a focal point in Richmond in recent weeks. The subcommittee is examining several areas, including teacher pay and credentials, and class sizes. Rutgers University Director of the National Institute for Early Education W. Steven Barnett, says supporting children from lower-income families at the beginning of life can make a difference.
More and more evidence tells us that investing in the education of America’s young people needs to begin earlier in their lives—stimulating socialization and a desire to learn, and dramatically improving their long-term life prospects. The return per dollar spent on early childhood education is among the most productive human-capital investments possible, yet as a society we’re not making enough of those investments.
The presidential candidates of both parties would do well to make this a defining issue of the election—encouraging governments and the private sector to cooperate in boosting Pre-K learning programs.
Mental health consultant Wendy Jones is trying to explain how a 3-year-old child gets expelled from a preschool school class, and it’s taking a long time.
Her explanation includes cultural differences and parental struggles in the family that put pressure on children, seeping into their psyche and coming out as bad behavior. It also involves teachers who lack consistent support and are more concerned with starting the day’s lesson than exploring why four boys in her classroom described their feelings that morning as “mad,” “sad,” “angry,” and “upset. . .”
African-American boys make up 18 percent of preschool enrollment but 48 percent of preschoolers who are suspended more than once, the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights reported last year.
Black girls also are more likely to be suspended than their white peers, but boys account for the overwhelming majority of preschool suspensions. Males make up 79 percent of preschoolers who are suspended once, and 82 percent of those suspended multiple times, the civil rights office reported.
That data affected members of a House Appropriations subcommittee, who urged urging the Education and Health and Human Services departments to highlight interventions that prevent and limit suspensions and expulsions in preschool and the first few years of elementary school.
Building on the significant progress seen in America's schools over the last six years, the U.S. Department of Education announced today that Florida, Idaho, Ohio and South Dakota have received continued flexibility from provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
Rep. Courtney Allen Curtis, (D) St. Louis was joined by Senators Jamilah Nasheed, (D) St. Louis, and Maria Chappelle-Nadal, (D) St. Louis, Saturday afternoon argue for the need to empower young black children with enhanced academic resources at the earliest age possible.
“We have seen some of our elected officials propose a Missouri Promise to help kids afford to go to college, but I ask what is our promise to the young people in failing schools who will never be in position to pursue the benefits of higher education?,” asked Curtis. “We need a greatly enhanced commitment to putting our children in a position to succeed at the earliest age possible. Early childhood education represents the best possible investment for minority children who may otherwise never have an opportunity to obtain a quality education.”
Experts are focusing more money and attention on the health of young children in Connecticut in an effort to prepare them to be successful in school later on.
The efforts include developmental screenings at child-care centers; home visits and information hot lines for parents; better collaboration with pediatricians; and more support for preschool staff members dealing with emotional and behavioral issues.
The idea is that if a child’s basic health needs aren’t met, he or she won’t be able to keep up with academic and social expectations in school.
Hillary Clinton's campaign has made support for universal preschool one of her earliest education policy positions (preceding even her recently released plan to reduce college debt). Contenders for the Republican nomination have been less eager to talk about early childhood education, however. That's not surprising, given that primary dynamics push candidates to appeal to their base, rather than advancing policies that will appeal to middle-of-the-road voters in the general election. But that doesn't change the fact that some candidates have early childhood policy records that deserve greater attention.
Jeb Bush may have the most obvious early childhood track record. As governor of Florida, he endorsed a ballot initiative that amended the state constitution to offer voluntary pre-K to every Florida 4-year-old. Following the initiative's passage, Bush signed legislation to create Florida's voluntary pre-K program – making the Sunshine State only the third in the country to offer universal pre-K (following Georgia and Oklahoma).
Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush criticized New York City mayor Bill de Blasio's universal pre-kindergarten program on Wednesday, accusing de Blasio of creating the program to appease teachers' unions.
Speaking at an education-themed candidate forum in New Hampshire, Bush lauded Florida's early childhood education system as a cheaper alternative to what he called "the de Blasio [system]—you know, we'll hire union teachers, expand, make this into another thriving business for the bureaucracies and for the unions."
Bush said Florida's early childhood program is "privately driven," and that between 80 percent and 85 percent of early childhood education providers in the state are private.
De Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell issued the following response: "Sorry Governor, but quality matters when it comes to early education," Norvell said in a statement. "What we’re investing in New York City is going to ensure our kids have the edge they need to compete and succeed.”
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) was reauthorized as the No Child Left Behind Act 2001. NCLB was supposed to be reauthorized in 2007 but was not until now.
The House version, Student Success Act, was passed on July 8th. The U.S. Senate passed its own version, Every Child Achieves Act, on July 16th. . .
Early Learning Alignment and Improvement Grants (Sec. 5610) are left intact, expanding federal control over all public school students, including preschool.
Head Start programs and all state pre-K programs are required to fully align to the Head Start Child Outcome Framework, a set of national early childhood standards correlated to Common Core.
Despite criticism from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that Indiana’s preschool pilot program should not shut out children who are in the country without permission, Gov. Mike Pence’s office said the rule is needed to stay consistent with the way federal preschool programs work.
Chalkbeat reported earlier this month that the state’s new preschool pilot program, open to about 2,300 children in five counties, blocked children of immigrant families from enrolling if they are not U.S. citizens.
Federal rules that require K-12 public schools to be open to non-citizen children don’t apply for preschool. After Education Week magazine reported on Chalkbeat’s story, Duncan issued a statement recently saying it doesn’t make sense for Indiana to bar children because of their immigration status.
Two-year-olds who can say more phrases tend to have better math and language skills and fewer behavioral problems when it’s time for them to start kindergarten, according to a new study.
“Certain groups of populations at 24 months are more likely to show lower levels of vocabulary, and helping those kids who may be at risk is important,” said lead author Paul L. Morgan of The Pennsylvania State University in University Park. “Having a smaller vocabulary even at this young age is predictive of lower kindergarten readiness,” Morgan told Reuters Health by phone.
How do we prevent bullying? Despite decades of study and numerous programs claiming to be the solution to bullying, few programs have actually been shown to be effective. One of the main issues is that "bullying prevention" is often a misnomer; instead of trying to stop the behavior before it begins, the focus of many programs is on reducing already high rates of bullying. By the time students enter sixth grade, the earliest grade for which nationally representative data is collected, nearly 28 percent report having been targeted in the past year. For younger children, data are far more limited, but suggestive. The National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence found that 20.4 percent of children ages 2-5 had experienced physical bullying in their lifetime and 14.6 percent had been teased (verbally bullied).
To actually prevent bullying before it starts, we need to focus on how bullying behaviors develop--for those engaging in bullying behaviors and those being targeted--starting in early childhood. Child Trends recently conducted a literature review and convened an expert roundtable, which NAEYC took part in, to document current understandings of the roots of bullying in early childhood. We identified key contextual factors linked to bullying behaviors, promising and evidence-based programs that help address emerging behavior, and the need for further research.
"My cry as a single mother to the government system is to implement something…so parents like myself will be able to go to work, take care of our children, pay our bills, and not just have to be single parents leaning on the state," Harris said at a press conference organized by SEIU Healthcare Illinois, a union representing child care and healthcare workers, State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, and State Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan.
Bush, Mayfield and area childcare providers urged lawmakers to provide more funding for the Child Care Assistance Program while reversing changes they said would leave 10 percent of families once considered eligible able to qualify.
Previously, a family of three earning about $37,000 a year or less would be eligible, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services. While families already enrolled in the program will continue receiving subsidized childcare, a family of three applying after the changes took effect July 1 wouldn't qualify unless they earned less than about $10,000 a year.