Early Education in the News

July 22, 2014

“It is encouraging to see positive trends for Ohio’s children on several of the indicators,” said Dawn Wallace-Pascoe, KIDS COUNT project manager at Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio. “However, the Data Book’s findings send a clear signal that we need to focus on reducing child poverty, addressing the prevalence of children growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods, and finding secure employment for parents if we are to improve well-being for all children in our state.”

She said the report was mixed for Ohio, as the state improved in several areas, including the number of children without health insurance and the percent of teens who abuse alcohol or drugs.

She said expanding Medicaid will be helpful, as will previous policies for increasing money for early-childhood education. The report showed 56 percent of kids did not attend preschool from 2010-12, slightly more than the national average.

The Washington Times
July 22, 2014

Nearly three out of 10 kids are living in poverty in Arkansas, but the number of children without health insurance has gone down, according to a national study released Tuesday that shows how children fare in each state.

July 22, 2014

While West Virginia’s universal preschool program has been nationally recognized, a report being released Tuesday ranks the state’s program among the worst in the country because it provides access only to 4-year-olds.

The state currently offers free preschool to all 4-year-olds, with enrollment reaching more than 15,000 children last school year, and just last month, the National Institute for Early Education Research ranked West Virginia among the top 10 states in the country for pre-K enrollment.

But state law does not provide the same services to 3-year-olds unless they have an Individualized Education Program, typically designated for children with special needs. Because of that, the Kids Count Data Center report ranked the state 47th in preschool access.

Public News Service-IL
July 22, 2014

According to Joseph, the EITC now benefits more than one million Illinois children, and he says his organization is now working to expand it to 20 percent of the federal credit over a five-year period. He notes that on most indicators in the report Illinois is close to, or somewhat better, than the national average. Troubling trends remain, however, as the report finds the child poverty rate in Illinois increased from 16 percent in 2005 to 22 percent in 2012. Joseph says this highlights the importance of maintaining and strengthening programs such as food assistance and the state's Child Care Assistance Program. He says Illinois also needs to renew its investment in early childhood education. "We know from a vast body of research evidence this has substantial payoffs in terms of school readiness, educational outcomes later in school, and in terms of economic outcomes in adult life," says Joseph. Since 2009, funding cuts in Illinois have reduced the number of children participating in state-funded preschool by about 25,000.

July 20, 2014

Quality ratings for Nebraska child care and early childhood education programs are the focus of a new system launched July 1 to help parents and guardians evaluate child care facilities when choosing care for their young children. The new system, Step Up to Quality, is aimed at improving the quality of all child care and early childhood education programs statewide ― programs that typically care for children from birth to kindergarten age and are eligible to apply.

July 20, 2014

In Chicago, VOCEL – a small education non-profit for children from under-resourced communities – is behind one of the first initiatives to use crowdfunding to open a preschool, the AFP reports.

All Africa
July 19, 2014

ZIMBABWE rules the roost in literacy in Africa with many Zimbabweans being accommodated in the regional and international industrial hubs. However, despite the apparent success scored by the Government in the education sector, a myriad problems still persist. The Herald's Senior Writer, Lovemore Ranga Mataire speaks to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development,Dr Olivia Muchena for an appraisal of developments in the sector.

Orlando Sentinel
July 19, 2014

For Florida's 1 million children growing up in poverty, kindergarten — and even pre-K — is too late to start giving them the help many will need to grow into capable, productive adults. That's the warning of a growing statewide effort to help parents and policymakers pay attention to the critical development years from birth through age 3.

But the message has been slow to reach parents and caregivers — those who can take greatest advantage of that precious and short window. In Florida, where one in four children lives below the federal poverty line and one in nine lives in extreme poverty, child-welfare advocates say few options are available to low-income parents who need quality child care or help in knowing what to do on their own. Meanwhile, the state's universal pre-kindergarten program — overwhelmingly passed by voters and open to every 4-year-old, regardless of family income — fails to meet seven of 10 nationally recommended quality standards, such as child-to-teacher ratio and class size.

The Oregonian [Op-Ed]
July 18, 2014

One approach is to subsidize the working poor more generously, using the earned income tax credit or similar measures. That's a good idea. Another approach is to improve poor children's chances by helping them do better at school and college. That's a good idea too - though harder to put into practice. Stilwell quotes a new briefing paper by Isabel Sawhill and Quentin Karpilow of the Brookings Institution. This includes some arresting numbers. According to the research surveyed in the note, proven interventions to help disadvantaged children raise their lifetime incomes by an amount roughly 10 times greater than the interventions cost. (The authors reckon the total cost per child of the programs they advocate to be about $20,000; the average lifetime gain per beneficiary is about $200,000.)

The Huffington Post
July 17, 2014

Both Democratic and Republican voters want more of an investment in early childhood education, and they want it now, according to a new national poll. Similar to previous polls conducted on the subject, Americans expressed support for the idea of early childhood education. Out of nine sample national priorities, including “reducing the tax burden on families” and “securing our borders,” voters ranked “making sure our children get a strong start in life,” as the second most important, only trumped by “increasing jobs and economic growth.” Overwhelmingly, voters said the nation should be doing more to make sure children begin kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need. . .

Steven Barnett, director of National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, previously told the Associated Press that about half of American children ages 3 or 4 attend an early education program and that a third of children attend programs that are publicly funded.
U.S. News & World Report
July 17, 2014

Republicans and Democrats don't find common ground on much these days, but they appear to agree on one thing: the importance of early childhood education. Although there would be an upfront investment that could increase the deficit in the short-term, voters were still supportive and agreed it would pay for itself down the road by improving education, health and economic situations for children.

"That’s an important takeaway, particularly for those who feel it’s not the right time to increase investments or spending," Perry says. "The earlier you start, particularly with children in poverty, the better their preparedness is for kindergarten and beyond, and those gains can last a lifetime. Those folks who do better not only aren't using expensive programs like special ed, but they’re becoming productive members of society and paying taxes."

July 17, 2014

More than three-quarters of all 4-year-olds in the US are enrolled in some kind of educational program, according to the Organization for Economic and Community Development.

That puts the US at 25th of 38 rich countries and developing economies — behind Mexico,  France, and Portugal, among other nations.

July 17, 2014

Nebraska has launched a new quality rating system for child care facilities and early childhood education programs, state officials said Thursday.

The "Step Up to Quality" system is designed to help parents and guardians evaluate programs that care for young children on factors including curriculum, learning environment, staff interaction with children and family engagement efforts.

A state law passed last year requires participation from 10 of Nebraska's largest child care providers — all in Omaha and Lincoln — and smaller providers that collect at least $250,000 from the state. The program is voluntary for any other providers.

July 17, 2014

Almost half of the children entering kindergarten in the United States come from poor or less educated families, and do worse in school than students from wealthier and better educated homes, a new study finds. It's the latest addition to a overwhelming research pool deeming poor preschoolers as worse off.

The study was released Tuesday by the Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind Sesame Street, and the research group Mathematica Policy Research. It analyzes federal early childhood data from the 2010-11 school year.

The Washington Post
July 16, 2014

Preschool programs should be integral parts of elementary schools with comparable funding levels and school hours; child-care professionals should be trained as teachers, not babysitters; and state data systems should include information about early education, according to a blueprint for speeding up improvements in early education.

The report published Wednesday by the non-partisan New America Foundation includes wide-ranging policy recommendations for the future of early learning, spanning academic standards, teacher training, assessments, funding and evaluations that emphasize how well teachers interact with children.

The Denver Post
July 16, 2014

A proposed extension and increase in the Denver preschool sales tax is a step closer to making the November ballot. The City Council's Government & Finance Committee on Wednesday approved the ballot measure 3-1. The proposal would reauthorize the 0.12 percent sales tax, narrowly approved by voters in 2006, and increase it to 0.15 percent. The tax would expire in 2026.

The program has provided more than $55 million in preschool tuition credits for 32,000 children, including 4,813 in the last school year. Credits are available under the program to all families in the city with 4-year-olds based on economic need and the quality of the preschool program being sought.

July 16, 2014

The education ministry may shift portions of the first-grade primary school curriculum into the educational and childcare programs at kindergartens and preschools as part of forthcoming curriculum revisions, it has been learned. The proposal would incorporate elements of first-grade education into kindergarten instruction and preschool childcare guidelines. Society and science classes taught in the first and second grades of primary school would be discontinued, while "life-environment" -- a subject first introduced in the 1992 academic year that stresses hands-on activities -- would be introduced to preschoolers and kindergarteners.

Twin Cities Daily Planet [Op-Ed]
July 15, 2014

That early learning is critical is one of the few points of agreement in today’s education reform debate. Unfortunately, actually improving early childhood education on a large scale is trickier than it looks at first. The high return on investment for strong early childhood education has become a well-worn talking point. Estimates as high as $16 of benefit for every $1 invested raise eyebrows and catch attention. Those benefits come from many sources: higher income (and thus higher tax revenue), lower K-12 expenditures for special education or remediation, and—one of the most beneficial—lower crime rates, producing lower justice system expenditures and “savings” for victims. Of course, some students benefit more than others, and the return on investment numbers capture trends, not absolute guarantees for each student.

July 15, 2014

 A new Indiana University study has tracked the links between early language skills and subsequent behavior problems in young children. Poor language skills, the study suggests, limit the ability to control one’s behavior, which in turn can lead to behavior problems such as ADHD and other disorders of inattention and hyperactivity.

Bloomberg Business Week
July 15, 2014

Criteria for designating preschool as high-quality include having comprehensive early learning standards, a maximum class size of 20 children and teachers with at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. They should also provide at least one meal, vision, hearing and health screenings and referrals as well as support services such as parent education and home visits.

Only four states -- Alabama, Alaska, North Carolina, Rhode Island -- and one of Louisiana’s three programs met all 10 of the organization’s benchmarks for state preschool quality standards in 2013, according to the organization.

The introduction of a public preschool program for disadvantaged children would, in the long run, increase college enrollment by 3.6 percentage points, according to a 2013 paper by economists James Heckman of the University of Chicago and Lakshmi Raut of the Social Security Administration.