Early Education in the News

NJ Spotlight
March 4, 2016

A package of bills that would expand and improve early childhood education and services in the state got a boost yesterday in the state Senate. But it also became clearer that the wide-ranging proposals face daunting real-life challenges going forward.

As expected, the state Senate’s education committee easily passed the package of a half-dozen bills, most notably one that includes the expansion of state-funded preschool programs across the state and another requiring full-day kindergarten in every school district. The package got an extra boost from Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who used his parliamentary powers to substitute on the committee and vote in favor of every bill.

But predicting when – or if -- any of these things will actually happen is far trickier, as questions arose during the two-hour hearing over where funding would come from and exactly how the new programs would work.

KVCR 91.9
March 4, 2016

The Department of Health and Human Services says it is expanding its Head Start program in Flint, Mich., with $3.6 million in one-time funding. It's an effort to combat the developmental effects on kids from the city's lead-laced water. The effects of lead exposure are lifelong and can cause "learning disabilities, behavioral problems and mental retardation," according to the World Health Organization.

The new funding for Head Start, a program that aims to help get kids ready for school and targets low-income families, "includes additional classrooms and a longer school year," Michigan Radio's Rebecca Kruth tells our Newscast unit. "It will also provide parents with more education on lead poisoning — along with increased transportation to help get families to doctor's appointments," Rebecca adds.

"Early education is one of the most important things we can do to help children overcome the effects of lead," Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Nicole Lurie said in a statement.

KIVI-TV
March 3, 2016
BOISE, Idaho - The preschool classroom at Hawthorne Elementary is one busy place.
 
Three and four-year-old children are busy learning in a new pilot project launched by the Boise School District in November.
 
The program was privately and publically funded by the City of Boise and sponsors like Micron and the United Way of Idaho.
Education Week
March 3, 2016
NEW YORK (AP) — A survey of New York City pre-kindergarten families has found that nine out of 10 parents like the program.
 
According to the survey released Wednesday, 92 percent of families rated their child's pre-K program as good or excellent.
 
Eighty-three percent said their child learned "a lot" in pre-K.
Star Tribune
March 2, 2016

Minnesota child-care providers have overwhelmingly voted against unionizing, likely ending a debate that has been emotionally charged and politically divisive for a decade.

The fight pitted some child-care workers against others and sharply divided legislators along party lines when they passed a law in 2013 that would allow the vote to unionize. 

Duluth News Tribune
March 1, 2016

Minnesota lawmakers return to the Capitol on March 8 for the 2016 legislative session, poised to tackle a long list of topics — from tax cuts to transportation funding.

With an expected budget surplus of more than $900 million, Gov. Mark Dayton says education — specifically expanding access to early-learning programs — should be at the top of that list. But since the surplus is smaller than earlier, he is trying to decide what education spending increases he can fit in.

A growing number of education advocates say lawmakers should widen their focus on early learning from preschoolers to include children as young as 6 months.

However, an economic and state budget report unveiled Friday produced doubt about whether a plan like Dayton’s is affordable. It reduced the state budget surplus by $300 million, which means many wants will go unfunded.

90.5 WESA
March 1, 2016

Last May, Governor Tom Wolf held a news conference in front of the Camp Hill state prison in Cumberland County. He was joined by Corrections Secretary John Wetzel and a handful of district attorneys, all pushing for a $120 million funding increase — not for prisons — but for preschool.

“These are the first steps to what I have as a four-year goal to fully fund early childhood education,” Wolf said.

The press conference was timed not only to coincide with that year’s budget negotiations, but also with the release of a report from the nonprofit advocacy group Fight Crime Invest In Kids. The report presented data from across the country to make the case that putting more kids in pre-K now would mean fewer adults in prison later.

“Pre-K sets kids up to be at level by grade 3,” Wetzel said. “Those who aren’t reading at level by grade 3 are more likely to drop out. Those who are more likely to drop out are more likely to be incarcerated. So that’s kind of a cascade effect.”

89.3 KPCC
March 1, 2016

alifornia has a preschool access problem: 40 percent of all four-year-olds in the state are not enrolled in early learning.

The state's level of preschool enrollment mirror those across the United States, which has some of the lowest rates of preschool enrollment in the world. Market rates for private preschool are comparable to the cost of community college, leaving many families unable to pay for school. Public preschool is available for families whose income is low enough. But even among families that are eligible, an estimated 30-35,000 children still don't have a seat.

Over the past few years, a consensus has grown among preschool advocates, lawmakers and the general public that the state must solve this access crisis. But there's no agreement over what the best solution is. Here are four ideas currently being discussed by policymakers and advocates to expand the number of four-year-olds in preschool. We take a look at how each proposal would work and what the pros and cons of each might be

My SA
February 29, 2016

Over the course of last year’s legislative session, I was proud to see quality pre-K improvements thrust into the spotlight as a bipartisan priority. Through emotional and sometimes heated debate, we were able to approve House Bill 4, a grant program of $130 million to Texas schools, in an effort to bolster existing pre-K programs. Although many of us argued this did not go far enough, it became clear that this was the best solution that the majority would embrace, and it passed with a 129-18 vote. It remains significant that we came together to create a new program to invest in kids across Texas.

Unfortunately, this victory was not nearly enough.

Although I am excited to see how districts take advantage of the grants, our kids demand a far bolder change of course.
Last year, the National Institute for Early Education Research released a study showing that Texas ranks dead last in the country in delivering quality pre-K. In the 10 policies of its quality standards checklist, Texas met only two — for teacher in-service and early learning standards. In areas from class size to teacher specialization, we continue to fall woefully short.

The Edvocate
February 29, 2016

A trend is emerging when it comes to P-20 education: optional preschool is becoming a thing of the past. As a nation, we’re finally beginning to accept that preschool is beneficial—even necessary—for the success of most American children. It’s why Obama has invested billions in early childhood education, and Presidential hopefuls such as Hillary Clinton are emphatic about preschool’s importance.

As someone who has extensively written about preschool-related initiatives on this site, I’ve seen enough to uncover some unexpected benefits that come from early childhood education.

Education Week
February 29, 2016
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's congressional delegation says the state is getting a $125,000 federal grant for a program aimed at affordable early childhood education.
The delegation says the money will be used to support the North Dakota Head Start State Collaboration Office. The office works to facilitate partnerships between Head Start agencies and other state entities that provide services to benefit low-income children and their families.
 
MetroParent
February 29, 2016
Research shows preschool and early childhood education is important to the growth and future success of little ones.
 
Jenny Paton, who is a Quality Improvement Consultant for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb with United Way of Southeastern Michigan, notes that a child’s brain grows quite a bit in the first 5 years.
 
“We want to make sure we utilize that opportunity to teach our kids and make sure they are ready – above and beyond ready – for kindergarten,” she says, adding, “It’s important that that’s across the board” – regardless of if a child comes from a disadvantaged background or not.
EdCentral
February 26, 2016

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) recently released its annual report on state pre-K funding for the 2015-2016 year, highlighting a nationwide trend in increased funding allocations by states on pre-K programming for the fourth year in a row. Almost two-thirds of states plus the District of Columbia funded pre-K at higher levels last year than the year prior, which could mean improved access and quality for many of the nation’s youngest learners.

D.C. is the leader of the pack on pre-K funding by a wide margin, allocating $12,407 per prekindergartener, according to the ECS report. The next closest is New Jersey, funding at $10,000 less ($2,943 per capita) by comparison. Arizona increased its overall funding by 116%—the highest nationwide—allocating an additional $19 million last year compared to the year prior. Five states in the U.S. still do not invest at all in pre-K programming:  Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming. (Although, Montana was awarded a federal Preschool Development Grant.) Despite these five holdouts, overall state funding in pre-K programs increased last year by $755 million from the 2014-2015 spending levels to a total of nearly $7 billion.

What does this 12 percent overall increase in spending translate into in real terms? It depends. Pre-K programs vary widely state-to-state. In recent years states have implemented options including universal pre-K, targeted pre-K for children from low-income families, dual language learners, or with special needs, pre-K for three- and four-year olds, full-day pre-K, part-day pre-K, and other school readiness programs, to name a few. 

Star Tribune
February 26, 2016
Recent education news confirms what this page has been saying for some time: Many Minnesota schools need to pick up the pace to replicate successful academic programs and step back from failing strategies, and the state needs a full-scale public-private push to get the neediest 4-year-olds into quality preschool.
 
This week, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) reported that high school graduation rates were flat in 2015, with 81.9 percent of public high school seniors graduating in four years, compared with 81.2 percent the year before.
Focus Daily News
February 26, 2016

Over the course of last year's Legislative Session, I was proud to see quality pre-K improvements be thrust into the spotlight as a bipartisan priority. Through emotional and sometimes heated debate, we were able to approve House Bill 4, a grant program of $130 million to Texas schools, in an effort to bolster existing pre-K programs.

Although many of us argued this did not go far enough, it became clear that this was the best solution that the majority would embrace, and it passed with a 129-18 vote. It remains significant that we came together to create a new program to invest in kids across Texas. Unfortunately, this victory was not nearly enough.

Although I am excited to see how districts take advantage of the available grants, our kids demand a far bolder change of course.

Last year, the National Institute for Early Education Research released a study showing that Texas ranks dead last in the country in delivering quality pre-K. In the ten policies of its quality standards checklist, Texas met only two- for teacher in-service and early learning standards. In areas from class size to teacher specialization, we continue to fall woefully short. 

KWQC
February 25, 2016

– As preschool teachers oversee the development of dozens of kids each day, many are struggling to feed their own families. A 2014 Center for the Study of Child Care Employment report found preschool teachers typically make just $6 an hour more than fast-food workers, and a new report from the National Association for the Education of Young Children shows many people think preschool teachers deserve more pay. So we checked in on some of our local teachers to see if what’s happening across the country could be the case here at home.

Sarah Jecks teaches at George O. Barr, a Silvis public school. She says when kids start preschool, they don’t know it all. “The skills that they bring in are just language,” Jecks said, “and a giant curiosity for anything and everything.” By kindergarten, they usually know a lot more.

 

 

BillyPenn
February 24, 2016

There are currently 14,000 quality pre-K seats and 42,500 3-to-5-year- olds in Philadelphia, according to the latest report from the Philadelphia Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten.

The 17-person commission held a public hearing yesterday to welcome feedback on its most recent report, published earlier this month. The report discussed options for blending local, state and federal funding to pump the number of quality, publicly funded pre-K seats in the city. The commission, created through a massive 80 percent vote during last May’s primary, pegs the cost of a pre-K budget for the city at $60 million annually. Kenney, who not only backs universal pre-K but campaigned on it, is expected to announce potential funding streams in his upcoming budget address.

Philadelphia’s universal pre-K system, a long called-for educational option in line with the widespread scholarship touting the benefits of early childhood education, would cover 3- to 5- year-olds. The commission, whose members are essentially the architects of the city’s program, is studying which methods would be best to create more quality seats.

The Columbus Dispatch
February 24, 2016
 
A former school building in the Linden neighborhood will take a central role in Mayor Andrew J. Ginther's first State of the City address tonight.
 
Ginther plans to announce a redevelopment of the Linden Park IGE Alternative School building, 1400 Myrtle Ave., and a nearby neighborhood recreation center into a preschool education center during his inaugural address at 6:30 p.m. at Whetstone High School.
 
The city plans to partner with Ohio State University and Columbus City Schools to create 14 classrooms that will begin serving 200 pre-kindergarten students in the next year or two. The center also will be a resource to help parents learn about job placement and preparing their children for kindergarten.
Education Week
February 24, 2016
 
When the Cleveland public schools developed a comprehensive plan to transform the way the district delivers education to 40,000 students, the focus was on ensuring that all students would have the knowledge and skills they need for a lifetime of success, starting in preschool.
 
Cleveland, like many other urban school districts, must work hard to find ways to improve attendance, graduation rates, and academic performance. But the earliest learners often get neglected in such plans.
The Seattle Times
February 22, 2016

Washington state’s preschool program has received kudos for its efforts to improve quality, but it gets poor marks for the small number of kids benefiting from high-quality preschools.

The new director of the Washington Department of Early Learning says he wants to address that by improving the quality of more preschools and securing more funding from the Legislature. . .

The Washington Department of Early Learning estimates that 3,200 low-income 4-year-olds are still in need of a state-funded, high-quality preschool. Washington state ranks 33rd in the nation for access to state preschool for low-income 4-year-olds, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research, which conducts an annual review of preschool programs. The same organization consistently gives Washington high scores for quality. Hunter thinks he can also increase the number of kids in quality preschools by getting quality information in the hands of parents and helping more child care centers improve their programs through the Early Achievers program.

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