Early Education in the News

October 24, 2014

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan challenged California to stand up as the model of what a high-quality early child care and education system should look like. Speaking at the “Children: LA’s Greatest Investment” forum, co-hosted by Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP), Duncan said that the case has been made for the economic and social benefits of not only high-quality preschool, but the broader early care and education spectrum. “We’re talking about a 0-5 continuum here,” Duncan told reporters after his keynote address at the forum. “I continue to believe this is the best investment we can make in families and children…if we want to have a strong economy,” Duncan said.

The Montana Standard
October 24, 2014

Lt. Gov. Angela McLean stopped in Butte Thursday to explain the governor’s mission to make early childhood education open to all kids. No matter the family’s income level or town, any child will be able to access pre-kindergarten through high-quality, half-day, voluntary preschool programs for 4-year-olds. The Early Edge Montana proposal links public with private partnerships throughout Montana, one of eight states lacking publicly funded, free education for younger kids, said McLean.

Medical Press
October 23, 2014

While losses in family income predict increases in behavior problems for many children, attending high-quality early childhood education and care centers offers some protection against families' economic declines, according to a new study out of Norway. In Norway, publicly subsidized high-quality early childhood education and care is available to all children, from low-income to affluent, starting at age 1. The study found that children who don't take part in such programs have more early behavior problems when their families' income drops.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the Norwegian Center for Child Behavioral Development, and Boston College. It appears in the journal Child Development.

Shreveport Times
October 22, 2014

Louisiana State Superintendent John White visited Mooretown Elementary School in West Shreveport recently to talk about the importance of early childhood education efforts in our state. The discussion centered around the development of high standards for early childhood education; better preparation and reward for the teacher workforce; and a family-friendly “one stop shop” for parents. School districts, Head Start, day care centers, and the Step Forward Initiative in our region are working in these areas, but greater state investment will be required.

LA Times
October 22, 2014

Child poverty in America is at its highest point in 20 years, putting millions of children at increased risk of injuries, infant mortality, and premature death, according to a policy analysis published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

As the U.S. emerges from the worst recession since the Great Depression, 25% of children don’t have enough food to eat and 7 million kids still don’t have health insurance, the analysis says. Even worse: Five children die daily by firearms, and one dies every seven hours from abuse or neglect. 

The Seattle Times
October 22, 2014

The Seattle ballot line pitting one early learning proposition against another has drawn interest from at least one organization thousands of miles away. “What happens in Seattle will have implications not only across Washington state, but across the country,” said Mark Shriver, the Network’s president. But backers of the opposing Proposition No. 1A, which sets goals to improve child-care by making it cheaper and by helping child-care workers, call their measure the grass-roots option. Voters will be asked to choose whether they want either measure, and which one they prefer. “My perspective is that 1B is pushing from the top down,” said Rita Green, education chairwoman at the Seattle King County NAACP, which has endorsed 1A. “1B is city-controlled instead of parent- and teacher-controlled.” When Murray stumps for 1B, he talks about preschool closing the achievement gap between white and black children.

The Journal Gazette (IN)
October 21, 2014

Allen County officials say they are waiting to see where future funding will come from for statewide prekindergarten now that Gov. Mike Pence has withdrawn an application for $80 million in federal funds.

“We’re just waiting for the Indiana solution to funding,” said Stephen Smith, board chairman and interim CEO for United Way of Allen County. United Way is one of the key players in the implementation of a forthcoming $10 million state grant that will finance pilot pre-K programs in five counties, including Allen County. If he’s going to decline federal money, he suggests there is a Hoosier way to do this, and it’s better without having to answer to Uncle Sam. We’re just anxiously waiting for his proposal for funding.”

The governor pulled an $80 million application to the federal Preschool Development Grant program last week, saying he did not want “the lure of federal grant dollars to define our state’s mission and programs.”

New York Times (Opinion)
October 21, 2014

With the introduction of universal pre-K in New York City, we have created a new entry point into our public school system. This raises a key question: What do we want our children’s first experiences in school to be? What does a good education look like for 4-year-olds?

This summer, Bank Street College of Education led training for 4,000 of New York’s pre-K teachers, including both veterans and hundreds of people who started teaching pre-K for the first time last month. Worried teachers talked about how the pressure to achieve good outcomes on the third-grade state exams has been trickling down to early childhood classrooms in the form of work sheets, skill drills and other developmentally inappropriate methods.

The problem is real, and it is not unique to New York City. 

October 21, 2014

The results of Mississippi's first statewide assessment of Kindergarten readiness reveal that two-thirds of the state's youngest learners enter school unprepared to learn.

More than 40,000 Kindergarteners from 144 districts throughout the state took the STAR Early Literacy exam during the first month of the 2014-15 school year. More than 65% of students scored below the 530 benchmark score that indicates a student has mastered at least 70% of early reading skills. The state average score was 501.

Atlanta Journal-Consitution
October 20, 2014

The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is launching a new initiative designed to help preschool providers better identify and support children that are learning English.

The initiative announced this week will assist practitioners in identifying dual language learners, children that are learning English and one or more languages, and supporting their language development – a key factor for school readiness.

PR Web
October 20, 2014

On Tuesday, October 21, as the White House continues to promote the importance of early learning for our nation’s children, Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) will co-host an early learning forum in Los Angeles, featuring U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as keynote speaker.

Titled “Children: LA’s Greatest Investment,” the forum will examine quality in early learning and public policy to support early childhood education. Experts in education, philanthropy, government, and the business community will discuss President Obama’s early learning agenda and efforts in Los Angeles County to support early learning.

“Expanding access to high-quality preschool is the single most important step we can take to improve the future of our children,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. 

October 20, 2014

The best way to improve reading proficiency in Massachusetts is to develop a statewide, holistic strategy to provide access to high quality early childhood education and relevant supports for families. Such an approach could speak to the significant gaps that universal preschool does not address in the first three years of a child’s life, as well as ensure the sustainability of such an approach by connecting families with the resources they need to create a healthy, stable environment for their young children. 

Thus far, our state’s leaders have been unwilling to invest the resources it will take to provide universal access to early education programs for every child from birth through age five, regardless of income. They have been inhibited by the estimated price tag of more than $1 billion. This, in spite of studies that have shown that for every $1 we invest in early education, we save at least $7 in long-term costs associated with high dropout rates, teen pregnancy, incarceration, and other social costs. 

Dallas News
October 20, 2014

Pennsylvania stands to reap significant benefits in the form of reduced costs to taxpayers and the state budget as a result of expanded access to pre-kindergarten programs for the commonwealth's 3- and 4-year-olds. That's according to new research released by Pre-K for PA and conducted by The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia.

The report outlines how investment in high-quality pre-k benefits K-12 school systems by reducing the need for special education programs and grade repetition, and producing fewer behavioral problems in school.Pennsylvania schools currently spend a significant amount of time and money helping children catch up who arrive for kindergarten unprepared – both academically and socially.

Providence Journal
October 20, 2014

The Hult Prize Foundation announced today that President Bill Clinton has selected Early Childhood Education as the topic for the sixth annual Hult Prize. Student teams from over 600 universities and representing 150 countries will compete to develop innovative start-ups which seek to reimagine education, in order to reach ten million children, aged 0-6 over the next five years who reside in urban slums and beyond. The winner will be awarded one million dollars in seed capital, along with resources to scale worldwide.

October 19, 2014

Wisconsin was eligible to apply for up to $15 million. The actual amount of our application, though, will be $0. The state is passing up the grant — in this round, anyway. . . 

Here’s the background. Wisconsin received a similar federal grant for $34 million under a program called the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge. That grant started in January 2013 and will be active through December 2016. It’s a big, complicated program. The state’s Department of Children and Families, Department of Education and Department of Health Services all have a hand in administering it, and it’s touched everything from attempts to spur private investment in early childhood programs to aligning YoungStar, the state’s child care ranking system, with the curriculum needs of 4-year-old kindergarten. In sum, the state is using that $34 million to help advance a number of initiatives that will help make sure Wisconsin kids get the support, love and education they need from birth.

October 19, 2014

Education may be the great equalizer, but not every child in Alabama has an equal opportunity to quality education. Expanding Alabama's state-funded First Class Pre-K program to 100 percent of the state's four-year-olds could be part of the answer. The program already serves 12 percent of children and is one of only four programs to meet all of the National Institute for Early Education Research's quality standards. The program needs $13.2 million in additional funding each year from the state for the next eight years to become fully funded and accessible, according to the Alabama School Readiness Alliance Pre-K Task Force.

Rocket News
October 19, 2014

Education is a major issue in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign. Understandably, the discussion has centered on funding and spending. But once we get over the political palaver, the next governor must decide how best to spend whatever money is available. I have a suggestion: early education. . .

The materials Pre-K for PA has gathered are compelling. Research has determined that by age 5, 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed. If children are to reach their potential, education and training must start very early in life. The benefits build as the child grows. High-quality early-education programs lead to fewer students requiring special education programs, reduce grade repetition, and increase the likelihood of high school graduation and college enrollment. This adds up to lower costs and greater returns from our education spending.

IndyStar [Op-Ed]
October 17, 2014

It's been a year of long-overdue momentum for preschool in Indiana, with the state's first investment in it and major pushes from the city of Indianapolis as well as corporate and philanthropic organizations. Then came Thursday, and word that Gov. Mike Pence's administration had made the surprise, last-minute and largely unexplained decision not to apply for a federal education grant that could have brought Indiana up to $80 million more to spend on preschool programs for low-income students. That would have been several times more money than the state has committed to spending under a Pence-led pilot program.

October 16, 2014

Science and politics shared the stage Wednesday night as two nationally known researchers discussed how a baby's brain is primed for learning from the moment of birth, and politicians underscored the need for a greater state commitment to early-childhood education.

"The Case for Early Learning," a panel discussion at Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, drew hundreds of parents, policymakers and education advocates interested in furthering state and local commitment to preschool education.

University of Washington brain scientists Patricia Kuhl and Andrew Meltzoff, co-directors of the UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) described how the timing and quality of play, stimulation and interactions with adults can help mold the developing mind, for better and for worse.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray explained why one of the most important initiatives of his administration is the passage of a pre-K pilot program to bring early-childhood education to low-income children.

"In a city that's so committed to issues of equality," said Murray, "I don't know anything else that is more important for us to do."

Alaska Dispatch News
October 16, 2014

The Oct. 14 deadline for the state of Alaska to apply for federal funds under the U.S. Department of Education's Preschool Development Grants program has come and gone. Alaska would have been eligible to apply for $10 million but did not submit an application. Unfortunately, this is just the latest example of Alaska choosing not to reclaim some of the federal tax dollars we pay and use them to increase early childhood opportunities in our state. Alaska is falling further and further behind when it comes to early childhood investments. According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, in the 2002-2003 school year, Alaska served 22 percent of its 4-year-old children in either Head Start or special education or state pre-kindergarten programs. A decade later, in the 2012-2013 school year, the picture remained the same -- 22 percent of Alaska’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in one of these three programs.