Early Education in the News
The future of the state lies with its children. The better start they get in a preschool setting, the better prepared they will be for grade school, and thus for success in high school and college.
Whether they're called developmental kindergarten or young fives, programs targeting youngsters not quite ready for kindergarten are starting to disappear. A state mandate requiring districts to offer full-day developmental kindergarten next year or lose funding could hasten their extinction.
Plans to invest in early childhood are now part of the Democratic and Republican platforms. For every dollar invested in early education, states would save about $4 because children would be less likely to require expensive services, including special education.
More than 50 members of the N.C. House have signed on to a proposal by Rep. Ray Rapp, D-Madison, to merge More at Four into Smart Start.
The "First Things First" initiative has handed out $30 million to the North, South and Central Phoenix Regional Partnership Councils to help pre-school age kids in Phoenix with health care and early education. The money comes from a voter-approved initiative in 2006 that imposed an 80-cent tax on a pack of cigarettes, with the money earmarked for early education.
Day care providers are feeling the wrath of the nation's recession as parents lose their jobs or work reduced hours. Some child care homes and centers have been forced to shut down and others are operating with higher vacancy rates and less staff.
Yesterday afternoon, the Pendleton Room in the Union was filled to capacity with students and faculty as Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman lectured about the role that early life investments, both material and emotional, plays in human development. Heckman, who is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, spoke about ongoing studies in the economics, psychology and sociology fields examining the role that gaps in cognitive and noncognitive abilities play in children's growth.
The survey released by the Pew Economic Mobility Project shows most Americans still believe that hard work will be rewarded regardless of family background or economic conditions. "Despite the economic crisis we're in, Americans remain unbelievably optimistic about their ability to make it, and make it not just in the short term but make it in the long term," said Anna Greenberg, who conducted research for the poll.
Education Commissioner Lucille Davy said $52 million will expand existing [preschool] programs for 3- and 4-year-olds in the so-called Abbott districts. Another $25 million will be dangled as an incentive to other districts to improve or introduce pre-K.
[Governor Jon] Corzine's $29.8 billion budget contains $25 million to fund more preschool programs in poor districts. That's in line with the state's plan for voluntary universal preschool in five years.
Obama rightly called for more investment in quality early childhood learning. Calling preschool his first pillar of education reform, he stressed that new federal dollars will go to states with quality programs.
The early education portion of the plan will offer states Early Learning Challenge Grants to improve quality of child care, including improvements to workforce quality. Incentive grants will provide aid for states to better collect data about programs, push for uniform standards and increase help for the most disadvantaged students.
"Studies show that children in early childhood education programs are more likely to score higher in reading and math, more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, more likely to hold a job, and more likely to earn more in that job. ... Even as we invest in early childhood education, let's raise the bar for early learning programs that are falling short," [says President Obama].
Hearings for House Bill 184 and Senate Bill 234 held last month call on the Maryland State Department of Education to begin discussions with superintendents and school boards across the state about how to bring universal, public pre-kindergarten to Maryland at no charge. To achieve this, MSDE would use the existing draft of Maryland's "Preschool for All Business Plan" as the basis of consultation with county government regarding the contents, costs and staged implementation of the plan.
To help struggling schools, the federal government will use stimulus funding to encourage states to expand school days, reward good teachers, fire bad ones and measure how students perform compared with peers in India and China, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said yesterday. The stimulus law, which will channel about $100 billion to public schools, universities and early childhood education programs nationwide, will help prevent teacher layoffs, overhaul aging schools and educate low-income children.
Coloradans interested in learning more about early childhood services in the state have a new one-stop resource online. The Early Childhood Colorado Information Clearinghouse includes information for parents, professionals, agencies and anyone who is interested in issues involving young children.
The General Assembly is considering a bill that would direct the State Department of Education to finalize a plan to gradually expand pre-K eligibility. Such a plan would ask officials to estimate the cost of prekindergarten expansion using existing facilities that provide high-quality early childhood education programs for 3- and 4-year-olds. Child advocates and educators hope Maryland will eventually provide free public pre-K for every family that wants it.
This Morris County community of 6,000 residents and two schools has been among a growing number of suburban districts in New Jersey expanding into public preschool, seeing the benefits of starting early to teach children learning and social skills. Now, more programs may be on the horizon, under an ambitious — some say overly ambitious — plan approved by Gov. Jon S. Corzine and the State Legislature in last year's new school funding formula.
Neuroscience has shown that brains develop faster between birth and age 3 than during any other period of life, and that social interaction fosters such neurological development. So, if babies spend a significant amount of time during their early years in forward-facing strollers, might it impede their language learning?
Before deciding which preschool suits their child's needs, some parents ask themselves whether preschool suits their child's needs. No laws require universal participation, and the quality of programs varies even within neighborhoods. But Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, says decades of studies point to the cognitive and social benefits of pre-kindergarten programs.