Early Education in the News
Hawaii lawmakers want to preserve a project to expand preschool options by preventing its funding from being used to help plug the state's financial hole. The Legislature, through Act 14, assigned an Early Learning Council last year to plan a voluntary preschool system supported by state and private funds. The council received $250,000, but about half of it is expected to be unspent by the end of fiscal year 2009 on June 30 and lumped into the state's general fund.
Gov. Chris Gregoire tapped Bremerton school chief Bette Hyde on Tuesday to run the Department of Early Learning, selecting a veteran public school administrator used to working with tight budgets. The one-time special-education teacher takes on the Cabinet-level post at a difficult time, as policymakers cut the state budget. Amid those cuts, however, improving the education of preschoolers, toddlers and infants remains a priority, Gregoire indicated.
School districts from around the county will continue to play the waiting game on whether funding will become available for the state-mandated preschool expansion project. But residents can find some comfort after it was announced by the New Jersey Department of Education that the burden to pay for the program will not fall on the local taxpayers.
Lack of money is not the problem: to keep a child in Head Start full-time, year-round, costs about $22,600, as opposed to an average cost of $9,500 in a day care center. And that's the big failing of the stimulus bill. In area after area, it does not require any real change in return for vast piles of money.
In a speech before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he has a prepared answer for anyone who wants to know what to invest in: "Education is the best investment." In making these tough choices, I submit that even in the face of this shrinking economy, the Virginia Preschool Initiative, or VPI, works, and its funding should be preserved.
With former Gov. Mike Easley gone less than a month, support is building in the General Assembly to end his signature preschool initiative, More at Four, as a separate program. The idea is to fold More at Four, which subsidizes preschool for at-risk 4-year-olds, into the older and broader Smart Start.
Early childhood screening is not meant to diagnose disorders or serve as a kindergarten readiness test, but it can identify possible developmental or emotional barriers children might have when they begin school.
New teachers looking to work in Connecticut public schools would have to learn to teach "atypical" students, such as special education students and English language learners, under revised teacher certification guidelines being developed by the state Department of Education.
An early start on education using an engaging curriculum has shown increases in readiness for kindergarten, as well as an increase in standardized testing scores, according to findings by the state Department of Education.
Money in the economic stimulus bill being debated in the Senate will help prevent teacher layoffs and preserve early childhood education, [Michelle Obama] said. Investments from the stimulus also will help fund innovative approaches to teaching, such as teacher quality initiatives, school turnaround programs and charter schools, she said.
With the Senate set to take up the more-than-$800 billion economic-stimulus bill this week, lawmakers will grapple with whether some $120 billion in proposed education funding increases would set unreasonable expectations for future spending. The bill—which closely parallels a measure approved 244-188 by the House of Representative last week, with no Republican support—includes money for education that would amount to nearly twice the discretionary budget of the federal Department of Education in fiscal 2008.
Even as mass layoffs rival historic levels, Wisconsin needs business to be more involved in promoting early childhood education, the state's chief labor economist says. Dennis Winters, chief economic adviser in the Department of Workforce Development, is one of a number of economists nationally who consider early childhood development, especially in low-income families, as a cost-effective way to build the economy and its work force.
The business of child care takes exceptional organizational skills and the ability to balance multiple tasks, not to mention what it takes to nurture and care for infants and kids. It's an industry without much financial incentive — the average wage for a full-time worker in the profession is $17,119 in Montana — but one that provides high returns for the state as a whole.
Maryland has launched a new government Web site that allows people to sift through the results of inspections of several thousand licensed child care providers in the state, including day-care centers and registered home-based care providers. The Web site allows users to search by company name, jurisdiction and type of provider.
Proponents of a rating system for child care centers in Missouri rallied on Tuesday in support of legislation aimed at helping parents better judge the strengths and weaknesses of early childhood programs. For the past two years, supporters of the concept have tried but failed to persuade the Legislature to approve a new five-star rating system for childhood programs in both centers and homes.
The economic stimulus plan that Congress has scheduled for a vote on Wednesday would shower the nation's school districts, child care centers and university campuses with $150 billion in new federal spending, a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education's current budget. The proposed emergency expenditures on nearly every realm of education, including school renovation, special education, Head Start and grants to needy college students, would amount to the largest increase in federal aid since Washington began to spend significantly on education after World War II.
The report, titled Right and Smart, argues the state devote more resources to helping children between the ages of birth and five. Early investment in these programs, focusing specifically on the birth-to-three age group, will eventually produce a healthier and more productive workforce, the report says.
With a second reduction in money for voluntary pre-kindergarten recently finalized and another rough economic year for the state ahead, early childhood education advocates are worried about whether more cuts are to come.
Seventy percent of 4-year-olds and 40 percent of 3-year-olds are in preschool, but the numbers are expected to grow rapidly. How will parents figure out which schools are best for their kids?
Wisconsin has 319 school districts that offered public preschool programs in 2008-09, with 33,976 children enrolled, a 22.4 percent increase over the previous school year, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.