Early Education in the News
The education landscape has undergone a sea change under the Obama administration, but Education Secretary John King sees a handful of pressing issues he considers unfinished business, with early childhood education being chief among them.
"There is a very large number of students in this country who don't have access to high-quality early learning," King said Wednesday morning at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
"We have a lot of work to do to make sure we have universal access to high-quality early learning, and not just for 4-year-olds, for 3-year-olds, too," he said. "The vision is to make universal pre-K universal for all low- and middle-income families."
Indeed, the U.S. is far behind other industrialized countries in providing access to such programs.
According to a new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, or the OECD, the U.S. ranked 29th out of 36 countries in enrollment rates for its 3- and 4-year-olds. In the U.S., 42 percent of 3-year-olds and 68 percent of 4-year-olds were enrolled in early childhood or preschool programs in 2014 – far below the OECD average of 71 percent of 3-year-olds and 86 percent of 4-year-olds.
A high-ranking official for Prince George's County Public Schools has been forced to resign in connection to the fallout from a federal investigation that reported allegations of abuse in the county's Head Start program, sources tell News4.
Prince George's County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell asked his chief of staff, George Margolies, to step down after emails surfaced showing Margolies arguing with a school board member to keep Head Start issues off the board's agenda, sources said.
In a leaked email, Margolies described the back and forth with the board's vice chair, Carolyn Boston, by saying, "I have scars on my back from yesterday to prove it."
"Today I have asked my colleague and friend George Margolies to step down as my Chief of Staff. I thank him for nearly 40 years of service in public education," Maxwell said in a statement.
Considerable research shows that well-designed early childhood programs can help children, particularly those who are disadvantaged, build social, emotional and academic skills that can help them as students and in life. The US seems to have missed that memo.
In 2014, it had one of the lowest enrollment rates for children in early childhood and pre-primary programs among the world’s richest 35 countries. Only three do worse than the US at offering programs for kids aged three and four: Turkey, Switzerland and Greece. In the US only 42% of three-year olds and 68% of four-year olds were enrolled; among countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation the average is is 71% and 86%, respectively.
EDWARDSVILLE — Lisa Tate was having fun using a keypad to move a small robot around, but she finally had to give up control.
“It wasn’t all that hard: He wasn’t listening to me,” said Tate, an educator at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Early Head Start Program, located at the school’s East St. Louis Center.
What looked like play was actually part of a workshop on integrating technology into early childhood education.
“It’s exciting and I think the children will master that a whole lot quicker than adults will,” Tate said.
Tate was among about 190 educators and education students participating in an Early Childhood Science, Technology, Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) Conference Monday at SIUE.
PAWTUCKET – Rhode Island Kids Count released its newest publication, Investing in the Future: Financing Early Education & Care in Rhode Island, at Heritage Park YMCA Monday. Officials at the roundtable event emphasized the importance of investing in early childhood education.
“By investing and supporting programs like pre-kindergarten and all-day kindergarten, we’re putting our kids on the path to success,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo. “This kind of solid foundation is what we need in order to reach the goal I announced last week: by 2025, three out of four 3rd-graders will read on grade level. Expanding access to high-quality preschool is essential to achieving that goal"...
...As of the 2016-2017 school year, 39 percent of low-income 4-year-olds, and 20 percent of all 4-year-olds in Rhode Island, are enrolled in a publicly funded preschool.
Rhode Island’s state pre-K program has been recognized as one of only seven in the United States to meet all recommended quality benchmarks, but the state is ranked among the lowest nationally (41st of 43 states) in terms of access for 4-year-olds.
"...I do believe there’s another path — one that fuels growth and innovation, and offers the clearest route to individual opportunity and national success. It does not require succumbing to a soulless capitalism that benefits only the few, but rather recognizes that economies are more successful when we close the gap between rich and poor, and growth is broadly based. And that means respecting the rights of workers so they can organize into independent unions and earn a living wage. It means investing in our people — their skills, their education, their capacity to take an idea and turn it into a business. It means strengthening the safety net that protects our people from hardship and allows them to take more risks — to look for a new job, or start a new venture.
These are the policies that I’ve pursued here in the United States, and with clear results. American businesses have created now 15 million new jobs. After the recession, the top one percent of Americans were capturing more than 90 percent of income growth. But today, that’s down to about half. Last year, poverty in this country fell at the fastest rate in nearly 50 years. And with further investment in infrastructure and early childhood education and basic research, I’m confident that such progress will continue..."
Today, hundreds of thousands more US children have access to high-quality early learning programs than when the Obama administration began. It was 2013 when President Obama announced his Preschool for All proposal that would establish a state-federal coalition to provide quality preschool for every four-year-old from low- and moderate-income households.
After the initiative was put in place, many states took action, and now all but four states offer preschool to early learners. In the 2015-2016 academic year, states increased funding for preschool programs by nearly $767 million more than the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Federal investments in preschool have increased by more than $6 billion in early childhood programs from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2016. Funded programs included Head Start, child care subsidies, programs for infants and toddlers with disabilities, and home visitation.
New York City universal preschool classrooms are more racially segregated than kindergarten classrooms, according to a new report out today from the Century Foundation.
While overall enrollment in the universal pre-k program is diverse, in one-sixth of preschool classrooms in the first year, more than 90 percent of all students came from the same racial or ethnic group, compared to one-eighth of all kindergarten classrooms. Just one in every five preschool classrooms were considered “highly diverse,” where the largest racial or ethnic group constitutes no more than 50 percent of the student roster. Decades of research show that racially integrated classrooms increase educational outcomes for all children.
The report used data from the city Department of Education from the 2014-2015 school year, the program’s first, and defined classrooms with 90 percent or more students from the same racial or ethnic group as “highly homogeneous.” Some studies say that schools risk alienating students if the majority group exceeds 70 percent of the student body.
The California Department of Education has named 13 educators to a planning team to develop social and emotional learning guidelines for schools across the state, a sign of the growing state and national interest in teaching students the interpersonal skills that contribute to success in college and work.
The planning team marks the start of California’s involvement in a new eight-state project known as the Collaborating States Initiative, launched in July by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, a Chicago-based nonprofit. The two-year initiative is intended to help state educators understand what social and emotional learning — which includes teaching students to listen respectfully, manage stress and set personal goals — looks like in the classroom and how states might map out a grade-level guide to developmentally appropriate skills.
“We are recognizing there is a set of skills that will help support kids in and out of the classroom to be successful,” said Brent Malicote, director of the Standards Support Office in the California Department of Education, who is co-leading the state planning team with Jennifer Peck, executive director of the nonprofit group Partnership for Children and Youth. One starting point, he said, will be to look at how the California Preschool Curriculum Framework laid out a rationale for why social and emotional development is important to learning, including vignettes that illustrate social and emotional learning in action in preschool.
Some children eligible for the first year of state-funded pre-kindergarten might not be able to start on time because of questions about who is responsible for overseeing security checks on private preschool providers.
Some providers didn’t finish the needed security checks by the start of the school year. Superintendents have been warned by their trade associations not to pay those providers for care given through the new statewide voucher system, despite assurances from the administration that districts are not in legal jeopardy for doing so.
State officials couldn’t say how widespread the problem with security checks may be.
The new pre-K program provides parents with vouchers they can use at any private or public prekindergarten, and the money comes out of the budget in the school district where they reside.
It is never too early to get children started on learning. Studies show that a child’s physical, intellectual, social and emotional growth develops exponentially in the first six years of her life.
Of course, learning begins from the time a child is born – some people even argue that it starts from the time a child is conceived, which explains the increase in pre-natal classes – and continues for the rest of her life. But, the capacity to learn is the most intense during her preschool or kindergarten years, before she enters primary school. Therefore, it is crucial to give children positive early childhood care and education (ECCE).
The good thing is that children have an innate desire to learn. Babies would place things in their mouth as that is the way they make sense of the world around them. Likewise, a toddler would protest when he is placed in a playpen as he would rather be out to venture and play, she added.
As the late Glenn Doman, an American pioneer in the field of child brain development, wrote in How to Teach Your Baby to Read: “The brain absorbs a tremendous amount of information in the first six years of life – three times more than during the entire lifetime.
The report of the International Commission for Financing Global Education Opportunities (or simply Education Commission) is out - and it breaks important new ground at a critical moment.
The Commission offers sobering diagnosis and bold, concrete recommendations about how global education financing should and can be increased and deployed. This report should be treated as a once-in-a-generation roadmap to set global education on the right path.
While there has been substantial progress over the past 15 years, staggeringly large numbers of children remain out of school or are leaving the classroom after four years without the skills they should have.
Also, the current trajectory of progress isn’t nearly steep enough to secure the new global education goal. At the current pace, the Commission tells us, only four out of 10 children of school age in low- and middle-income countries will gain basic secondary-level skills by 2030. In low-income countries, only one out of 10 will clear that bar.
The Commission members, an assembly of some of the most influential global leaders from the fields of government, business and human development, tell us in unmistakable terms that we must do much more and do it better to educate the world’s children and, more importantly, that we can do it. But only if we choose to.
The hotly debated topic of school funding in New Jersey may have just hit the boiling point, as two opposing approaches to how the state funds its public schools came into sharper focus yesterday.
For starters, Gov. Chris Christie — a longtime antagonist of the state’s public teacher unions — called on the Supreme Court to reopen a landmark education ruling that helped poor communities get more school funding. He also asked that the court give the Department of Education control over laws and bargaining agreements that protect tenured teachers.
Later in the day, Christie’s primary legislative antagonist, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, pushed through a resolution to create a school-funding commission to look at the issue of “fairness” that would keep the existing system but would even out the funding that has changed due to fluctuations in income and population. This commission does not require Christie’s permission or participation.
When it comes to paid family leave, the United States lags behind every other developed country in the world. Hillary Clinton has stressed childhood issues for decades and has proposed 12 weeks of paid leave and universal preschool. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is the first GOP nominee ever to propose paid family leave and child care help. Lisa Desjardins compares their plans.
Hundreds of thousands more children across the country have access to high-quality early learning programs today, compared to the beginning of the Obama Administration.
In 2013, President Obama put forth his bold Preschool for All proposal to establish a federal-state partnership that would provide high-quality preschool for all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. After the President’s call, many states took action and today, all but four states offer preschool to young children. Overall, in the 2015-16 budget year, states increased their investments in preschool programs by nearly $767 million or 12 percent over the 2014-15 fiscal year. And, from 2009 to 2015, states enrolled 48,000 more 4-year-olds enrollment in state preschool....
While states and the federal government have invested in early education, more needs to be done to ensure every parent and family can access and enroll their child in a quality preschool program. Today, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research, only 41 percent of all 4-year-olds and 16 percent of 3-year-olds in the United States are enrolled in publicly funded preschool through state programs, Head Start, or special education. Even fewer children are enrolled in the highest-quality programs.
As envisioned by its bipartisan sponsors, Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Reps. John Kline, R-Minn., and Robert "Bobby" Scott, D-Va., the Every Student Succeeds Act responds to the over-centralization and standardization required by its predecessor, No Child Left Behind, and the top-down approach too often applied by the US Department of Education. While No Child Left Behind changed the conversation in positive ways by using data to discuss groups of students from every background, the department lost the ability to address the whole child and the interrelated systems that shape their lives.
I've called No Child Left Behind "a celebration of separation" because of its piecemeal approach to children's needs and the programs that address them. A holistic approach, with a unified response to the needs of the "whole child" – medical, physical, social, emotional, as well as academic – is what most people I talk to call "common sense." As required by the Every Student Succeeds Act, now is the time to activate the unique potential of states, school-community partnerships, educators and individual students to create state plans that improve outcomes for everybody's children and benefit our entire country.
Early Head Start services are provided through weekly visits to homes, and the home visitor partners with parents to share activities and information supporting a child's development. When school is in session, it also offers an opportunity for children and their parents to participate in group learning, discussion and social activities.
Heidi Williams of Gilford is disabled and caring for her 3-year-old grandson, Shawn Cassavaugh.
"My granddaughter had Head Start, but I met with Healthy Families America, and chose to enroll Shawn in Early Head Start because I had such a wonderful experience with my granddaughter," Williams said.
Instead of going to school, school will come to you.
That’s the prize-winning idea behind RISE High, a proposed Los Angeles charter high school designed to serve homeless and foster children whose educations are frequently disrupted.
Los Angeles educators Kari Croft, 29, and Erin Whalen, 26, who came up with the idea, won $10 million in XQ: The Super School Project, a high school redesign competition funded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs.
RISE is one of 10 $10-million winning school projects nationwide. Winners receive the prize money over five years.
Pre-K 4 SA four-year-olds have exceeded the national norm in three academic outcomes during the 2015-16 school year while closing significant gaps in three others, according to an annual independent study released Tuesday.
“Results indicated that although Pre-K 4 SA children started the school year significantly below the normed sample in all six outcomes, they surpassed the normed sample in three of the six outcomes (cognitive, literacy, and mathematics) by the end of the year, were not statistically different in oral language or social-emotional, and closed the gap in the physical outcome by 74%,” the study explained in its executive summary.
The report went on to say that “instruction appears to be based on multiple curricular resources, with daily opportunities for children to engage in active learning through varied learning settings.”
Edvance Research Inc. performed what was the third of eight planned annual studies with support from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) and Rutgers University in New Jersey.
When there are too many preschoolers in a classroom with too few teachers, everyone loses. Not only is the taxpayer overpaying for the services delivered, it's frustrating for the teacher, the families and the students.
So what's the optimum number of pre-K students per teacher in a classroom? After Gov. Greg Abbott declared pre-K a priority, the Legislature passed a high-quality pre-K bill in 2015. But it didn't include a standard on student-teacher ratios and maximum class size.
To study the deficit, the Texas Legislature commissioned the Texas Education Agency and the Department of Family and Protective Services to produce a report. The well-researched report, released this month, recommends that all pre-K classrooms should be limited to a maximum of 22 students and allow no more than 11 students for each teacher or aide in pre-K classes with more than 15 students.
The Legislature should act swiftly in the upcoming session to implement the report's recommendations for both student-teacher ratio and maximum class size. To be clear: The report's recommendations aren't designed to achieve a gold standard for pre-K quality; they're needed to keep Texas from falling behind.
The study team frankly notes that the classrooms they observed with the highest-quality scores had student-teacher ratios that ranged from 8 to 1 to the recommended standard of 11 to 1. Similarly, the report points out that the preponderance of research suggests that a lower class size than what is being recommended is better.
According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, 86 percent of all states require fewer children in a pre-K class and 88 percent of states require lower student-teacher ratios than the report's authors are proposing.
While the proposed standards aren't exactly ambitious, they offer much-needed improvement. The report - based on classroom observations as well as submitted data - estimates that approximately 13 to 16 percent of Texas pre-K classrooms have more than 22 students. Among the 97 classrooms observed by the study's authors, the largest class had 29 students, a class size that limits student learning opportunities, according to the non-profit Texans Care for Children.
The data school districts reported to TEA did not include student-teacher ratios. But in the study team's classroom observations, the average student-teacher ratio was 12 to 1. Additionally, the report says that certain classrooms, such as those with high numbers of dual language learners or students with special needs, may need stricter ratio standards.
Several factors give us hope that the Legislature will do the right thing next session. Although there will be a price tag for the standards, many Texas school districts already meet at least one of them, and a higher-quality program with standards will ultimately lead to better educational results and less costly remediation down the road.
In addition, by its actions, the Legislature has acknowledged the importance of quality standards. During the 2015 session, lawmakers required districts receiving grants under the High-Quality Prekindergarten grant program to attempt to provide a teacher for every 11 pre-K students.
Attempts to provide better standards are not enough. Research cited in the study suggests that high-quality early childhood education, "not only benefits children and prepares them for school, but also provides benefits to society as a whole."
Our region will not reap the benefits of the Legislature's investment in pre-K until and unless standards for a successful pre-K experience are adopted and met.