Early Education in the News
For parents having trouble deciding whether their 5-year-old is ready for kindergarten, a bill under review in the state House Education Committee would make the decision easier for them.
House Bill 4987, introduced in mid-October by retired school teacher Rep. Charles Brunner, D-Bay City, calls for full-day, mandatory kindergarten enrollment for 5-year-olds.
Michigan law now makes school compulsory at age 6. A child who turns age 5 between Jan. 1 and Sept. 1 has the option to attend kindergarten, but enrollment is not mandatory in Michigan. Parents whose children turn 5 after Sept. 1 can seek a waiver to enroll their child in kindergarten.
Kindergarten is optional in 34 states and mandatory in 16 and the District of Columbia.
The push for expanded preschool funding didn't end in June when the Minnesota Legislature wrapped up a special session by agreeing on a $79 million spending boost. For Gov. Mark Dayton, who says giving families widely expanded access to preschool is a top priority of his final years in office, that compromise was only the beginning. Since then, he and his deputies have made it a point to visit preschool programs whenever they can. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith's schedules alone show they have visited schools four dozen times this year.
The entire Legislature is up for election in 2016, and members will be eager to campaign on their accomplishments. But Dayton insists lawmakers address his priority of widely expanded preschool funding if they want his support for other legislation. "I'll make it a requirement for getting my support for certain things that legislators want, like tax cuts," the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party governor said as the school year began in September. "But there's no way I am going to support giving money back when there's money that's badly needed for these kind of purposes."
The 18 civic and education leaders, all with ties to Kansas City’s Early Learning Commission, came for a long day of learning how Denver pulled off universal preschool.
Specifically, they coveted the strategies that have delivered $77 million from Denver taxpayers since 2007 — a pot of money the Denver Preschool Program has used to put $66 million into tuition and $9.7 million into improving public and private preschools, with more than 36,000 4-year-olds served so far.
And Denver was eager to receive the Kansas City delegation. Education leaders here would love new partners in the push for universal prekindergarten. They want to see Kansas City winning the kind of tax that raises the money that makes a good preschool possible for every 4-year-old, poor or not.
“It should go out into other cities,” said Jennifer Landrum, head of the Denver Preschool Program, “so that other cities can value children and do the same for theirs.”
If one wants to understand Connecticut’s budget woes, one need to look no further than its universal preschool strategy. And in reviewing the governor’s and legislators’ budget deficit mitigation plans, it was disappointing to see that they opted to further erode the state's early care system and industry, rather than make smarter choices that preserve both.
The state pays a Head Start provider $0 and a school readiness provider $8,924 to educate a preschool child year round in a NAEYC accredited setting with bachelor degreed teachers.The state pays a Care-4-kids provider $9,482 for year round care in a public or private NAEYC accredited setting with some bachelor degreed teachers. The state pays the public schools an average of $10,285+, the magnet schools $13,054+ and a charter school $11,000 for 180 days at no cost to parents regardless of their ability to pay. A school district like New Haven spends $17,000 per child. Yet when faced with the choice of where to find savings and efficiencies, the governor proposes eliminating a million dollars in school readiness funds which represents a much needed and much fought for increase to childcare businesses.
Sixty-six percent of American 4-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood education, placing the United States well below average compared to other developed countries at a time of increasing focus on early learning, according to a report released Tuesday.
As U.S. presidential candidates weigh the costs and benefits of early childhood education on the campaign trail, the report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development points to a growing global recognition of its worth, the report's authors said. While enrollment figures for American 3- and 4-year-olds didn't change much from 2005 to 2013, the OECD averages went up significantly. In 2013, an average of 88 percent of 4-year-olds in the countries surveyed were enrolled, compared with 72 percent in 2005. For 3-year-olds, the average enrollment went from 52 percent in 2005 to 74 percent in 2013. In the U.S., 41 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled in 2013, compared to 39 percent in 2005.
"There is increasing awareness of the key role that early childhood education plays in the cognitive and emotional development of the young," the report said. "As a result, ensuring the quality of early childhood education and care has become a policy priority in many countries."
If you missed it over the weekend, PNC Bank Regional President Jim Hansen penned an excellent op-ed highlighting the importance of investing in early learning. Hansen writes in the Raleigh News & Observer about a recent poll that finds voters of all parties believe early childhood education should be a top national priority: - See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2015/11/24/something-to-be-thankful-for-h...
One answer to reducing Cincinnati’s childhood poverty rate can be found near the Rocky Mountains. Denver has universal preschool for 4-year-olds and as Local 12 News continues to investigate Childhood Poverty: Cincinnati’s Crisis, Jeff Hirsh went to Denver to see why that city was a model for what may happen in Cincinnati.
Denver, or rather anyone who buys anything in Denver, helps pay for preschool for 4-year-olds. The subsidy, from a sales tax, does not cover 100 percent of tuition which averages about $900 per month. But it can be enough to make the difference. “Our highest tuition credit is about $650, which really helps a low-income family,” said Jennifer Landrum, Director of the Denver Pre-School Program (DPP). The majority of children in that program are from either low or moderate income families, but not all. “Denver preschool program has a very unique model on how we distribute our tuition dollars,” Landrum explained. DPP dollars are available to any family, regardless of income, and can be used in any approved preschool, public, private or religious. The subsidy is on a sliding scale. The more people need, the more they get. And because all of the 250 participating schools are evaluated and rated, there’s even more money if people go to a better school.
This is the first in a six-part series that will examine how New Jersey delivers preschool education, as well as the political and financial issues supporters face as they push to bring the benefits of pre-K to many more children.
Universal preschool is near the top of the education agenda these days. President Barack Obama is proposing universal pre-K for low-income children; New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio has implemented it citywide; and New Jersey children’s advocates are calling for a major expansion of the state’s free preschools in poor communities.
Although most New Jerseyans may not realize it, the Garden State is often held out as a national model for pre-K education and what it can accomplish. While the many studies that have tracked the benefits of preschool education are sometimes at odds with one another, research shows that the pre-K provided by the state’s Department of Education to 35 low-income districts has had certain and lasting effects
The push for expanded preschool funding didn't end in June when the Minnesota Legislature wrapped up a special session by agreeing on a $79 million spending boost.
For Gov. Mark Dayton, who says giving families widely expanded access to preschool is a top priority of his final years in office, that compromise was only the beginning.
Since then, he and his deputies have made it a point to visit preschool programs whenever they can. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith's schedules alone show they have visited schools four dozen times this year.
The entire Legislature is up for election in 2016, and members will be eager to campaign on their accomplishments. But Dayton insists lawmakers address his priority of widely expanded preschool funding if they want his support for other legislation.
The role of early childhood education became a source of debate when researchers at Vanderbilt University questioned the long-term impact of Tennessee's publicly funded pre-kindergarten program in September.
A different report released Wednesday by the Southern Regional Education Board contrasts Vanderbilt's findings, arguing the importance of early childhood education — saying it needs to be a funding priority for states.
"Our understanding about early childhood development has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years," said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, chairman of the SREB Early Childhood Commission, in a written statement. "Now it's time to put what we've learned into practice so that our young children get the best possible start."
The Southern Regional Education Board Commission spent portions of 2014 and 2015 with national experts studying early childhood issues and children's brain development. It concludes that investments during a child's critical early education years can increase the likelihood of high school graduation, college attainment and workforce readiness.
For many children, kindergarten is an exciting time that marks the beginning of their path to educational success. But too many begin school with deficits – in language, social and pre-math skills – that often persist throughout their educational careers. A relatively new approach to improving long-term educational outcomes, called "preschool to third grade," or P-3, focuses on the youngest students. The goal of this approach is to ensure that children enter kindergarten with the skills they need to learn there and to create learning environments from pre-K through third grade that strengthen these skills and support learning. Research has shown that third-grade skill levels are important predictors of later academic and workforce success.
Some of these initiatives are more comprehensive than others. However, most emphasize greater access to high-quality pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds; support for the transition from pre-K to kindergarten; alignment of curriculum, standards and assessment from pre-K to grade three; training for pre-K to third-grade teachers that focuses on child development and child-centered learning approaches; instructional practices that support an individual child's learning and social and emotional development; parent engagement in learning; and use of data for quality improvement and accountability.
An Ohio community is tackling efforts to expand early-childhood learning from the bottom up. Hundreds of people, along with some local and elected leaders, were on hand Thursday night at a Cincinnati church to announce the People's Platform for Universal Preschool. Troy Jackson, executive director of the AMOS Project, a coalition of congregations, said the platform elevates the voices of parents, educators and preschool providers who see the need for high-quality early learning. He said it's also important for the community as a whole. "Just being ready to learn, being ready to be successful in life - a lot of those skill sets are being developed before the age of 5, when they get into a kindergarten classroom," he said. "So, we believe with two years of excellent preschool education, it will make a huge difference in the lives of children in our community."
Backers of expanded access to early childhood education rallied in Bond Hill Thursday night. The People's Platform wants two years of preschool for every child. Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune says the evidence in favor of early education is irrefutable. “Children who have quality preschool education for two years leading up to enrolling in kindergarten… perform better,” he says. But Portune says there still isn't a plan in place to pay for it. He says in Hamilton County, the Children's Services Levy might be a funding source. He says the amount of that levy hasn't changed in years. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re talking about an increase in taxes either. I think we have to talk about what are the resources that exist today and that are also generated by that levy.” Portune says universal preschool is not the sole responsibility of county government but the county should have a seat at the table.
“We don’t need to throw out the baby with the bathwater,” said White, one of three Tennessee lawmakers who served on the SREB commission. “Pre-K, done well and done appropriately, does help, especially in urban areas like Memphis where children face a lot of challenges.”
The commission recommends that its 16 member states boost the quality of both pre-K programs and teacher training — and align curricula from pre-K through third grade so that children’s learning builds over time.
Those are key messages for Tennessee leaders mulling over the Vanderbilt study, says Joan Lord, vice president of education data, policy research and programs for SREB.
“There’s a whole body of research that tells us that gains don’t fade away if you have a high-quality program that’s well-aligned from pre-K through the third grade,” Lord said on the eve of the report’s release.
She said pre-K teachers also must be trained to provide the kind of small-group interaction that can develop high-cognitive functioning in children.
Leaders from across the 16 Southern Regional Education Board states are calling, in a major new report, for states to raise the quality of early education programs and ensure they are well-coordinated across different agencies and budgets.
Members of the SREB Early Childhood Commission spent portions of 2014 and 2015 with national experts studying early childhood issues and current knowledge about children’s brain development to create the recommendations in Building a Strong Foundation: State Policy for Early Childhood Education, released today. The report and many other resources are online at SREB.org/EarlyChildhood.
“Our understanding about early childhood development has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years,” said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who chaired the SREB commission. “Now it’s time to put what we’ve learned into practice so that our young children get the best start possible.”
Tennessee wants to be able to track the progress of its pre-kindergarten students to understand what happens to them as they move through elementary school.
To aid educators in gaining more information on pre-K students, the Tennessee Department of Education is looking to provide a tool that will help teachers screen what students know in kindergarten and what they should be learning during the school year. It fits into an overall effort to better pre-K programs — and subsequent grades — statewide.
The changes from the Tennessee Department of Education are tied to Vanderbilt University's recent report that says while pre-K students are better prepared for kindergarten, much of the progress is lost as they move through higher grades.
The study casts doubts on the effectiveness of programs statewide, but researchers and state officials say the question is what happens to those students as they progress through later grades. Pre-K programs are in all Tennessee counties, but programs are different across districts.
Child care, once consigned to the ghetto of liberal women’s issues, is earning newfound—and bipartisan—attention on the 2016 campaign trail.
During the Republican debate last week, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio dropped the remarkable fact that child care costs more than college tuition in 35 states. And today, the Center for American Progress, a popular source of policy ideas for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, rolled out a new campaign, Within Reach, designed to keep the issue at the top of the national conversation at least until Election Day.
While Republicans and Democrats tend to have different solutions to the problem of increasingly unaffordable child care and preschool, Neera Tanden, the president of CAP, told TIME that we’re at a unique point where both sides are recognizing that it’s a problem.
A new report from the Southern Regional Education Board urging improvements to early-childhood programs in states across the South highlights Oklahoma’s access to pre-kindergarten education. The board’s Early Childhood Commission, which includes Oklahoma State Rep. Ann Coody and Oklahoma Sen. John Ford, spent portions of 2014 and 2015 with national experts studying early-childhood issues and current knowledge about children’s brain development.
Several states, including Oklahoma, are highlighted in the report as examples that others can learn from. “Oklahoma has led the nation for nearly two decades in providing 4-year-olds with access to state-funded pre-K — and even classes for 3-year-olds,” a press release with the report states.
The importance of early childhood care and education is at the forefront of regional leaders’ minds once more as the St. Louis Early Childhood Council presents a program on such matters for the St. Louis region. So where does Missouri stand in providing the most early childhood options possible?
“The key issues in early childhood right now are around access,” said Katie Rahn, the executive director of Southside Early Childhood Center. “We are trying to figure out a way to meet the need of all the children who need care and education, but the supply of high-quality providers is just not sufficient. We’re looking at 56,000 childcare spaces at licensed centers in Missouri, and 104,000 children who are under the age of six whose parents are working and need care.”
"The incidence of poverty more often than not is correlated with low levels of literacy, educational attainment and other measures of human development," according to the report. "Developmental psychologists and sociologists have developed a substantive body of work indicating poverty as a risk factor for a number of social, health and educational outcomes in children."
Indeed, a 2013-14 study of MEAP scores indicated achievement gaps of 18 to 32 percent by grade and subject for students classified as economically disadvantaged.
Gaps like that affect us all. As the Office of Evaluation report points out, "The effects of poverty persist beyond the schooling years, translating into decreased earning power, which — in combination with lower expected educational attainment as adults — impact future generations of children."
Meaning poverty is a cycle, as is low educational achievement.
We can help break or at least diminish the effects of that pernicious cycle by focusing more of the state's attention and resources on proven solutions like universal preschool, school nutrition programs and free or low-cost medical care for at-risk children.