Early Education in the News
Educating 4-year-olds is important to California voters – important enough that 57 percent say it’s worth spending $1.4 billion a year for the state to provide all of them with preschool. Those findings come from the latest Field Poll, which asked 1,000 California voters their opinion of a proposal that Democrats in the Legislature have said they plan to make a priority in budget negotiations this year. The plan pushed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg would expand an existing program known as transitional kindergarten – now only available to about a quarter of the state’s 4-year-olds – to create a spot for all whose parents want them to attend. It would essentially add a new, but optional, preschool grade to the public school system.
“Majorities are saying that it is very important to make publicly supported preschool available and that they thought government should be doing more,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll.
“What was interesting is that it wasn’t just localized among parents, but among the broader population of voters, which is significant.”
When President Obama called foruniversal access to pre-K programsin his 2014 State of the Union address, viewers could have been forgiven for thinking this was just another big government initiative that only a liberal could love. But in fact, a look at investments in pre-K education at the state level shows that funding is up around the country--and that some crimson red states like South Carolina and Mississippi are leading the way.
Proposals to begin providing state funding to school districts that offer preschool appear to be gaining momentum in the Missouri Legislature.
The Missouri House approved a bill that would allow districts to include preschool children from ages three to five in the number of students state funding is based upon. But the state money would only be available for children who qualify for free and reduced lunch and would not roll out to all school districts until the state’s foundation formula for education is fully funded.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and running mate Lisa Brown outlined universal preschool, standards for limiting class sizes and better state funding for higher education Wednesday as key education goals.
The package of education priorities lacked any funding details. Former Congressman Schauer said Wednesday he is not prepared to say how he would pay for the proposals, but that he’d start with a study to determine how much the state should spend to provide a quality public education system.
Local school administrators do not expect a state plan to expand preschool access to have a major impact on Greenwich, but they welcome the proposal nonetheless.
The plan, put forth by General Assembly Democrats, calls for a 10-year, $200 million commitment to create as many as 50,000 preschool spaces for 3- and 4-year-olds. It would focus on underperforming school districts, but Senate President Pro Tempore Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said the entire state should ultimately benefit.
Play is the young child's context for deep learning! Play is not only appropriate, it is critical in preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten. Don't envision a developmentally appropriate classroom as a place of chaos, either. It's a place where children are happily and energetically interacting with their surroundings that support learning.
The Iowa Senate on Monday approved incentives to increase enrollment in the state voluntary preschool program. The measure would alleviate waiting lists, especially for low-income and minority students who, the floor manager said, have the most to gain from early childhood education.
Senate File 2351 was approved 28-22 with two Republicans -- Sens. Rick Bertrand of Sioux City and Mark Segebart of Vail -- joining majority Democrats to send the bill to the GOP-controlled House, where leadership has shown little interest.
Although the program could cost the state as much as $127 million over three years, Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, estimated $51 million is a more likely cost because some students won’t enroll and others attend other programs, such as Head Start.
If companies want to have a skilled and educated workforce in the future, supporting quality early education is key, according to Pre-K for PA, a statewide issue campaign. Capitalizing on this year's gubernatorial election, the goal of the campaign is to provide access to high quality pre-kindergarten education to each child in Pennsylvania.
Research shows that children with access to high-quality pre-K are more likely to advance grades and have improved social skills, said Michelle Figlar, executive director of the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children, which is heading up the campaign locally.
New Mexico may be the worst in the nation when it comes to child well-being, but U.S. Sen. Tom Udall on Monday said raising the minimum wage and providing unemployment insurance to those parents who have been without jobs the longest could make an immediate difference in the lives of children.
"Extra dollars to families really make a difference," Udall said.
The New Mexico Democrat hosted a round table discussion with children's advocates, business leaders and others to address the state's dismal rankings. His goal is to identify steps that can be taken at the federal level to lift children and families out of poverty and to boost opportunities for children to succeed.
A systematic analysis of 84 preschool programs demonstrated that on average children gained about a third of a year of additional learning in language, reading and math skills, and the publicly funded preschool programs in Tulsa and Boston produced gains of a half to a full year of additional learning in reading and math.
New research shows that learning improvements occur for middle-class as well as low-income children, although low-income children gain more. Further, dual-language learners gain as much or more than native speakers, and children with mild to moderate special needs advance as much as typically developing children.
According to the
"I looked at every single place I could, and there were only a few things I was looking for: the location, the price and the curriculum," Ms. Campbell said. "I really think (early education) is the best thing for kids, because my daughter stayed home with me and I took her to her grandmother's house. But she has so many problems in school right now."
Democratic leaders in the legislature presented an ambitious proposal Wednesday to dramatically expand government-funded early childhood education programs in Connecticut.
Standing alongside educators from across the state at a Capitol press conference, a group of powerful lawmakers, including Senate President Donald Williams and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, outlined their plan to spend $200 million over 10 years. The money would cover the cost of providing "a "high-quality" pre-kindergarten experience in public schools for about 50,000 3- and 4-year-olds.
A proposal to offer free preschool to all California four-year-olds passed its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday with support from Democrats but facing skepticism from Governor Jerry Brown and some educators that could doom its chances this year.
The $1.5 billion program is being pushed hard by the state senate's Democratic leader, Darrell Steinberg, who is leaving office at the end of this year and views it as key to his legacy in the most populous U.S. state.
Legislation originally designed to study the amount of demand for early childhood education sparked an extended argument in the House Education Committee. House Bill 954 by Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, drew criticism from school districts around the state because it also allocates funds for private day care centers.
“It’s important to determine what kind of demand is out there before moving forward to find the best way to give our young people access to the high-quality educational opportunities at an early age,” Leger said.
Using a new $1.5 million grant provided by the John E. Morgan Foundation, Rutgers-Camden on Wednesday announced plans to establish a $3 million endowment supporting early childhood education programs in the city.
According to a school spokesman, the $3 million endowment, the other half of which will be provided by various smaller donors, will benefit the John S. and James L. Knight Early Learning Research Academy (ELRA), located on the Rutgers campus in Camden.
This very wealthy state with its booming economy - so says candidate Abbott - has a long way to go when it comes to meeting our children's education needs. According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, Texas meets only two of 10 benchmarks used to measure quality pre-K education.
"Texas has some of the weakest pre-K quality standards in the country, with no limits to class size and ratio of students to teachers," said W. Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, in an interview with the San Antonio Express News. "To turn this around, the next governor needs to work with the Legislature to increase access to high quality based on the science of early learning."
A greater share of mothers are not working outside the home than at any time in the past two decades, according to a new Pew Research Center report. After declining for several decades—bottoming out at 23% around the turn of the century—the share of stay-at-home mothers has risen in fits and starts over the past decade and a half, to 29% in 2012, according to the Pew Research analysis of census data.
While there are many reasons driving this trend, one likely reason is the rising cost of child care. A 2010 Census paper (which focused on married stay-at-home mothers) commented that “[e]specially for mothers who have more than one child under 5, the cost of day care might be higher than she could support unless she has fairly high earnings.”
To provide early childhood educators, policymakers and school leaders with information on the reliability and validity challenges that accompany efforts to track and improve the quality of early education programs, Educational Testing Service (ETS) has released a report that examines PreK classroom observation policies across the country. . . . Ackerman's report also provides a detailed analysis and description of classroom observation policies for 27 state-funded PreK programs from the 2012–2013 school year. The data for the descriptions were gathered from a survey Ackerman sent to the administrators of 53 PreK programs that were identified in the National Institute for Early Education Research's 2011 Preschool Yearbook.
California’s childcare and development system has “serious flaws” and is in need of “comprehensive restructuring,” according to a new report from the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO.) Examining the complicated public subsidy which provides low-income families with assistance for early childcare, the report lays out a road map for the state legislature to move towards a “simplified and rational system.”
Serving 300,000 children, California spends approximately $2 billion each year on subsidized childcare and development programs, according to the LAO. 60 percent of this funding comes from the state and the remaining 40 percent from federal monies. The report does not consider Head Start programs as that is a separate federal program.
What breaks this cycle? Education. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, college graduates live at least five years longer than those who haven't graduated high school, and each additional year of schooling represents an 11% increase in income. A solid education is an individual's primary method for securing financial stability, which not only increases access to healthy foods and safe communities but also promotes an individual's ability to provide his or her children with quality child care and educational experiences.. . . Furthermore, education—Head Start, in particular—is an essential program to enable low-income populations to increase their economic mobility. Yet National Institute for Early Education Research shows despite the fact that admittance to Wisconsin Head Start and pre-kindergarten programs has almost tripled since 2002, state spending has decreased nearly $1,500 per child enrolled since then.