Early Education in the News
Some Illinois business leaders said Wednesday the state needs to invest more in early childhood programs to ensure students will be prepared for future careers in fields requiring math and science education.
Members of ReadyNation Illinois called on lawmakers to support a $75 million increase in early childhood programs that can help prevent children from falling behind early in academic areas that can prepare them to take jobs in fields related to science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.
When it comes to education, the first five years of a child's life are in many ways the most important. Early brain development is in full swing, making it a critical time to cultivate cognitive and emotional skills that will put kids on track to succeed when they hit kindergarten.
But for most families of young children in California, important resources for early childhood development remain out of reach. Most families are unable to pay for child care and preschool on top of the high cost of living, meaning many kids are going into kindergarten well behind their peers, a cascading disadvantage that follows them into middle and high school.
Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday urged legislative leaders to approve additional funding to hire school counselors, among other professional staff, and a grant program to improve the state's preschool facilities.
Dayton said he wants $13.1 million for a grant program that would increase the number of school counselors, psychologists, social workers and other staff. Minnesota has 1 counselor for every 792 students, a high ratio that advocates say leaves students under-served.
The governor also wants $40 million for a grant program that school districts could tap into to pay for facilities expansion for Dayton's goal of eventual universal preschool.
Dayton's request comes with about a month left in the legislative session. House Republicans on Monday approved a supplemental budget for education that had no new spending. The legislation paid for new programs through savings -- about $55 million -- the state expects once some school districts repay outstanding state loans by the end of the year.
A child’s brain is designed to absorb information at a fast pace: During the first few years of life, they create 700 to 1,000 new neural connections every second, making their early years integral to how their brain functions for the rest of their childhood and adolescent development. Knowing this, a team of researchers from Washington University School of Medicine studied parental impact at each stage of development, and discovered the earlier parents invest in their child’s brain structure growth, the better.
In Vermont, teachers who work in early learning tend to have satisfaction with their jobs. What they don't have is good pay unless they work in the public schools, according to a report from the Department for Children and Families.
The report is based on three surveys of those who work with children in day care and preschool up through third grade as well as those in after-school programs up to age 14, according to Murphy.
Workers in public school programs and private centers as well as family child care providers were surveyed as part of Vermont's Early Learning Challenge grant. The idea was to take a snapshot of what is happening in the field to get a baseline and see what is working and what could be changed to support high-quality early care and learning.
The results showed that public school programs had the most-qualified and best-paid instructors, while child care that is based in family homes had the least-educated and lowest-paid workers.
Baby TALK has been recognized by ExceleRate as a top early learning and development provider.
Baby TALK Early Head Start received the Gold Circle of Quality designation from ExceleRate Illinois. ExceleRate is a comprehensive system that allows early childhood programs to apply to be recognized for the services that they offer to their families. Gold was the highest designation that could be given. The award was available to all early childhood programs in the state of Illinois.
Before her family moved closer to the city, where they could afford more living space, she attended the more affluent Upper Moreland district, which is predominantly white and, according to state and local records, spends about $1,200 more per student than William Penn. That difference adds up, Jameria says, to better buildings, smaller class sizes, take-home textbooks and less teacher turnover. "It's never going to be fair," she says, comparing her life now to her former classmates. "They're always going to be a step ahead of us. They'll have more money than us, and they'll get better jobs than us, always." So Jameria's parents have signed onto a lawsuit, arguing that Pennsylvania's school funding system is unfair and inadequate. To the Millers, money matters. But not everyone agrees. . .
A new study from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University is just the latest to suggest that preschool, when it's high-quality, can narrow achievement gaps before they grow too wide. With strong support from the state's then-new governor, Mike Easley, the program grew quickly. At peak enrollment, in the 2008-09 school year, it provided free preschool to roughly 35,000 at-risk kids at a cost of $170 million.
Gov. Tom Wolf and Sen. Robert Casey joined early childhood experts and 200 business executives in Hershey this week to discuss how investing in quality early education reduces public costs in health and education at the Early Learning Investment Commission’s 2016 Economic Summit on Early Childhood Investment. The summit highlights early learning investment strategies that promote workforce and economic development.
“Children who participate in high-quality pre-kindergarten perform better in school, graduate at higher rates, and earn more throughout their working lives compared to peers that do not have access to early learning programs,” said Governor Wolf. “My 2016-17 budget proposes a $60 million increase in high-quality early childhood programs, which will help pave a path for Pennsylvania’s children for life-long success in school and the workforce.”
According to numbers released last week by the Economic Policy Institute, the average cost of full-time child care for a 4-year-old in Hawaii, either in preschool or at a daycare center, is $9,312. The average price of in-state college tuition in Hawaii was $8,216. The institution’s estimates vary somewhat from those generated by Child Care Aware of America in May of 2015, which tabulated average child care costs in the state at between $7,600-$9,300 yearly and the average annual price tag to attend a four-year, public college at about $9,700. But the conclusions of both studies are essentially the same: Early childhood education is now effectively as hefty of a financial burden as college.
In a recent article for the Brookings Institution, Ruth Curran Neild, acting director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), argued that educational research is on the right track. The one thing it lacks, she says, is adequate funding. I totally agree. Of course there are improvements that could be made to education policies and practices, but the part of the education field working on using science to improve outcomes for children is very much going in the right direction. Many are frustrated that it is not getting there fast enough, but we need more wind in our sails, not a change of course.
What has radically changed over the past 15 years is that there is now far more support than there once was for randomized evaluations of replicable programs and practices, and as a result we are collectively building a strong set of studies that use the kinds of designs common in medicine and agriculture but not, until recently, in education. We recently published a review of research on early childhood programs, in which we located 32 studies of 22 different programs. Twenty-nine of the studies used randomized designs, thanks primarily to funding and leadership from a federal investment called Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research (PCER).
Philadelphia's soda tax battle has gone full-on presidential.
Following comments former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made in Philadelphia Wednesday in support of Mayor Kenney's a proposed tax on sugary drinks to universal fund pre-K education, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Thursday he's against the tax.
Kenney's proposal calls for a 3-cents per ounce tax on all non-diet sodas, sweetened teas, sports drinks, sugary juices and other beverages that contain sugar.
Clinton on Wednesday said, "I'm very supportive of the mayor's proposal to tax soda to get universal preschool for kids. I mean, we need universal preschool. And if that's a way to do it, that's how we should do it."
Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES), a leader in developing Digital Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum and school design, has been named a partner in the Federal government's new Early Education STEM initiative.
TIES is the first organization to deliberately build a Fab Lab – a maker space that uses digital design and fabrication to build STEM skills and creativity – for early childhood. In March 2016, The Bay Area Discovery Museum, in partnership with TIES and FableVision, launched the world's first Fab Lab for young learners (ages 3 to 10) to help them navigate the design process from concept to production, and turn their ideas into reality.
According to the Department of Defense, 71 percent of all young Alaskans between the ages of 17 and 24 are unable to join the military, primarily because they are too poorly educated, too overweight, or have a record of crime or drug abuse. This matches the national rate. The National Commission on the Future of the Army recently warned of a “small pool of talent, and it is likely to shrink even more,” leading to “potential future challenges for military recruiting.” While there is no single solution to this problem, research highlighted by the national security organization Mission: Readiness shows that high-quality pre-K can address the major disqualifiers for military service by helping to boost graduation rates, deter youth from crime and reduce obesity rates. Long-term studies of early-education programs show impressive education and crime prevention outcomes. For example, children who participated in Michigan’s Perry Preschool were 44 percent more likely to graduate from high school. Another study found that children left out of the Chicago Child-Parent Centers program were 70 percent more likely than participants to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18.
Since quality is the key to early education’s benefits, the good news is that Alaska’s state pre-K program meets all 10 quality benchmarks from the National Institute for Early Education Research. The bad news is that the state Legislature has cut funding for this program, which currently serves only 3 percent of Alaska’s 4-year-olds. I urge state lawmakers to restore the $2 million for pre-K to help ensure that young Alaskans can “be all they can be” in college, the civilian workforce or the military for those who choose to serve.
A new report estimates that the economic toll on Los Angeles County from the loss of funding for thousands of preschool seats later this year will be almost $600 million annually. Funding for nearly 11,000 preschool seats is going to run out in June when Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) loses its backing from the public early years agency First 5 L.A. But the report, by the independent research organization the Institute for Child Success, looked at the impact beyond lost educational opportunities. “The cost of cutting high quality pre-K in Los Angeles county will exceed the program dollars saved,” said ICS executive vice president Joe Waters.
LAUP currently spends $59.1 million on preschool contracts that fund 11,000 seats. After the First 5 LA funding expires, LAUP's budget will drop from $93.5 million to $29.9 million. . . “By 2020, two-thirds of U.S. jobs will require at least some post-secondary education," the report states. "But, at present, only 19 percent of L.A. County 11th graders are ready for English coursework at a California state college and only 13 percent are prepared for college coursework in math.” Without preschool, children may be even less successful in school leading to a future of low paying jobs, which also impacts economic activity and productivity.
During the next few weeks the Minnesota House and Senate will hear from both parents and children’s groups urging support for a successful effort to ensure that more young children start school “ready to learn.” First instituted in 2007, that effort brought what’s known as a Quality Rating System (QRS) to child care and preschool programs — enabling parents to select programs that offer the nurturing and high-quality teaching their children deserve. High-quality child care and early-learning programs are a vital first step toward solving these challenges. Study after study shows that participation in quality preschool can lead to a range of positive outcomes, including fewer behavior problems, improved school readiness, reduced special education, and academic benefits that may last well into elementary school, high school and beyond. This research is based on state programs similar to those offered here in Minnesota, and on two studies that followed children who participated in quality programs in Michigan and Illinois and found that they were far less apt than nonparticipants to become involved in crime and more likely to graduate from high school.
For these reasons and more, Minnesota’s law enforcement and retired military leaders are longtime advocates for quality early-childhood experiences. Right now, our efforts are focused on sustaining the QRS system, because it can lead to better outcomes for children while also helping providers to boost the quality of their programs.