Early Education in the News
The early learning measures on Seattle’s Nov. 4 ballot are two opposing propositions that ask voters two questions, leaving plenty of room for confusion.
Hawaii is the only state with a constitution that bars public money from going to private preschool programs, but voters on Nov. 4 will get a chance to change that distinction.
Until a handful of preschool classrooms opened up at some public schools this year, Hawaii was one of 10 states without publicly funded preschool. In an effort to expand the number of children who have access to preschool, voters are being asked to amend the state constitution. Supporters say it will help children in a state where 42 percent start kindergarten without any early learning opportunities.
A few years ago, those overseeing the local Head Start program urged teachers to get a bachelor’s degree with the goal of upgrading the program.
Now, Stark County Community Action Agency officials find themselves facing staffing challenges. Consequently, they are looking at temporarily setting aside the requirement that all teachers obtain bachelor’s degrees. “We are currently short four teachers,” Reasonover said. “We have kids to fill four classrooms. We just don’t have teachers. I have a challenge finding qualified teachers.”
Our state employs one of the best and most cost-effective crime prevention strategies law enforcement has – high quality early childhood programs, but too few children have the opportunity to benefit from them.
Programs like Smart Start and NC Pre-K have been proven to produce significant outcomes for our state. NC Pre-K is rated by the National Institute for Early Education Research as one the highest quality prekindergarten programs for four year olds in the nation. Unfortunately, it currently serves less than a quarter of the state’s four-year-olds. And only a fraction of the state’s children benefit from Smart Start, a nationally recognized program that works with families, teachers, faith communities, doctors and educators to ensure healthy development and early learning for children birth to five.
Voters know what they want — programs that begin from birth and continue through the early grades and produce the cognitive and character skills needed for later success. Seventy percent of North Carolina voters support programs that strengthen families, like voluntary home visiting and parent education programs. We are fortunate that in Rockingham County our Smart Start just launched such a program – Nurse Family Partnership. It is a voluntary, evidence-based home visiting program that is proven to improve school readiness and success, increase parental self-sufficiency and reduce future youth crime and delinquency. Once fully operational, the Rockingham program will serve 50 families.
Peters is part of the small cohort of males teaching pre-school nationally; in fact, barely 2 percent of early education teachers are men, according to 2012 labor statistics. And with universal pre-K taking center stage in our country’s most populous city, the absence of male influence at this stage of development is getting increased scrutiny.
Steven Antonelli, currently the director for Bank Street Head Start, has spent more than two decades working in early childhood education and has experienced first-hand the challenges men in this field face. In an interview with New Republic executive editor Greg Veis, Antonelli considers these hurdles and the importance of early childhood education.
Similar scenarios are playing out across the country as educators increasingly use tests to measure kindergartners’ knowledge in such area as letters, sounds, syllables and number recognition, assessing their needs as they move into the nation’s K-12 public school system. For more than a decade, Maryland has assessed student readiness for kindergarten, but the tests have been revised to align with the Common Core State Standards, a new, national set of academic guidelines. . .
Messick said she looks for a variety of skills and actions, from how students hold their pencils and crayons (with their fists or between their fingers?) and how they interact (do they help others, and do they share?). Teachers have been trained to also observe the child’s “social foundations,” which include their behavior and their ability to follow multi-step instructions, work collectively, complete tasks and relate to their peers.
Believing it's never too early to think about college, Long Beach public officials and educators plan to take their message to the earliest learners — preschoolers. Their efforts to recruit the children sooner rather than later is part of a broader effort to provide preschool for every child. Among its champions is the new mayor of Long Beach, Robert Garcia, elected in July as the first Latino and gay mayor for the city. Garcia is making universal preschool, especially for disadvantaged children, a priority of his administration. Drawing from his own background as a five-year-old immigrant from Peru who overcame the challenges of language and poverty through education, the mayor wants Long Beach to become a leader in extending preschool to all.
Researchers have long been interested in whether children who attend preschool continue on to higher education, according to Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. “There is certainly research that directly shows kids who went to high-quality preschool programs were more likely to graduate from high school, and … go on to college,” he said.
But one of the most daunting challenges about early learning in this country is a lack of public funding for teaching children from birth to 3 years of age. While many families must dig deep in their pockets to pay for their children's preschool, the families of children from low-income backgrounds have no pockets to dig in. Forty-nine percent of American children under the age of three -- 5.6 million -- live in low-income households, while 48 percent of children 3 through 5 years old -- 5.9 million -- live in low-income households. Without quality early-childhood education and affiliated services, this is a lost generation waiting to happen. America cannot afford to lose half of its future taxpayers, householders, parents and workers. . .
Yet, despite the benefits, state funding per child for preschool programs has declined over the last decade, according to data published by the National Institute for Early Education Research. In the most recent year for which statistics are available, 9,000 fewer 4-year-olds participated in publicly-funded preschool. That number needs to rise. And soon.
About 230 Indianapolis preschoolers helped set a world record Thursday by taking part in the largest ever vocabulary lesson. It was part of an event to highlight early learning programs in 35 cities sponsored by PNC Bank. Learning vocabulary is among the most important skills for parents and preschool teachers to work on with kids to get them ready for school, Kucer said.
With rising preschool tuition reaching $1,000 per month in some places, even Denver Preschool Program officials say they've had trouble keeping up with the cost. After the program was approved narrowly by voters in 2006, the number of city 4-year-olds receiving tuition help from the sales tax revenue has gone down steadily since 2009. . .
The tax expires in 2016, and this election, Question 2A asks Denver voters to increase the tax, known as the Denver Preschool Tax, and to extend its life through 2026. If approved, the tax would become 15 cents on every $100 purchase, up from the current 12 cents per $100. This year, officials say the program is receiving about $13 million. If the tax is approved, the revenue could go up to $19 million as soon as next year.
Thirty-five states and Puerto Rico applied for funding, signifying serious interest in early childhood education throughout the country and across party lines. The numbers reaffirm that there is strong bipartisan support for this issue: 16 of the states are headed by Republican governors and 19 by Democratic governors. Because states’ current pre-K investments vary significantly, the Departments divided the available grant money into two sub-grants: states with little or no public pre-K program were eligible to apply for “development grants,” and states with more robust systems or those receiving federal funds through Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge were eligible for “expansion grants.”
On Wednesday, December 10, President Obama will host a White House Summit on Early Education. The Summit will bring together a broad coalition of philanthropic, business, education, advocacy and elected leaders, as well as other stakeholders who are committed to expanding access to high-quality early education. This summit builds on the President’s call in his 2013 State of the Union address to expand access to high-quality early childhood education to every child in America. As part of that effort, the President proposed a series of new investments that will establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for a child—beginning at birth and continuing to age five. This proposal includes extending and expanding evidence-based, voluntary home visiting, growing the supply of effective early learning opportunities for young children through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, and providing Preschool for All.
“Remember that activity when we all get in the closet and pretend we’re not even there, so our principal can’t find us?” I choose my words carefully as I prep my pre-kindergarten students for the lockdown drill scheduled for that afternoon. These drills have become routine at Arlington elementary schools, and at schools across the country. After the latest school shooting, on Oct. 24 in Washington state, schools will no doubt be running through drills yet again. What can we do about all these shootings?, teachers ask each other. Lock the doors, we’re told, and assume the worst is coming.
- A new push for academic achievement. Xer parents are increasingly sending their kids to preschool at ever-earlier ages. According to The State of Preschool, the share of 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool nearly doubled between 2003 and 2013. And despite this doubling of free preschool care, private preschool enrollment has also skyrocketed. Parents with means are willing to shell out major bucks to send their kids to the best preschools. A number of states have also recently instituted universal preschool programs for all children.
Washington state is one of 35 states applying for grants under the federal government’s new $250 million preschool education program, the U.S. Department of Education announced on Monday.
The money is intended to significantly expand preschool programs among at-risk children. The grant program is a joint venture between the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services; the goal is to get more states ready to participate under President Obama’s Preschool for All initiative that would offer early learning education to all children.
The state school superintendent on Tuesday outlined a program he says will unify early childhood education in Louisiana. Not enough focus has been placed on students prior to third grade because evaluation methods are confusing and incomplete, said John White, who made three stops in Terrebonne Parish as part of his Louisiana Believes Tour.
The pilot program the state is moving into was a result of Act 3 that the Legislature approved two years ago. Under the program, child care providers will be licensed by the Department of Education, instead of the Office of Family Services; preschools will be evaluated on their teaching and interaction with students; the application process for various forms of preschools including Head Start will be consolidated; and pre-school teachers will be required to have at least an associate degree in child care development. “We’re in a new era of childhood education,” said state Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, one of two state legislators serving on an early childhood education task force.
Early childhood development advocates have reason to rejoice throughout Alaska. Rep. Paul Seaton answered a cry for help with a funding option well-received among people present at a legislative open house at Head Start on Oct. 25.
In July of this year, Rep. Seaton put forth an effort amending Alaska’s Education Tax Credit program; legislation that opens the door for both businesses and individuals to receive tax credits for donations to programs such as Head Start, SPROUT, and Homer Early Childhood Coalition (formerly Best Beginnings).
A lack of childcare was also heavily discussed, with affordability being an aspect garnering much frustration. Parents make “incremental amounts” after paying for services needed for children, and the general lack of options and staffing locally. Seaton admitted that, “though the need is great,” a solution might be found by re-evaluating standards individuals in child care in the state are required to meet.
Parenthood should be affordable in this country, but the cost of raising a child from birth to adulthood is now a quarter of a million dollars and projected to double by the time today’s toddlers reach their teens. Will having kids soon be out of reach economically for many American families? A recent report from the Center for American Progress found that middle-class families are feeling an unprecedented economic squeeze — caught between stagnating wages and the exploding cost of basics such as housing, health care and children’s education. Most families, it seems, are getting by on less and living closer to the financial edge to help their kids grow up healthy and get ahead. The most striking growth in costs to families has been in child care, where expenses have climbed about $200 annually in each of the past dozen years, with nearly tenfold growth since the 1960s. Child care, on average, consumes $1 of every $5 in a family’s budget and exceeds the typical rent in every state.
The Preschool Development Grants competition supports States to (1) build or enhance a preschool program infrastructure that would enable the delivery of high-quality preschool services to children, and (2) expand high-quality preschool programs in targeted communities that would serve as models for expanding preschool to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. These grants would lay the groundwork to ensure that more States are ready to participate in the Preschool for All formula grant initiative proposed by the Administration.
To identify the states slashing education spending the most, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the CBPP’s 2014 report, “Most States Funding Schools Less Than Before the Recession,” which analyzed state level general formula funding between fiscal 2008 and the current fiscal year. State formulas typically fund the majority of state-level education expenditures, but do not include all state sources of funding. Frequently, most state fund preschool and teacher retirements outside of these formulas.