Early Education in the News
Nationwide, there are more expulsions in preschool than any other grade level. In Missouri, one out of every 10 preschool-age children is expelled. Deeper into that statistic, African American boys are three times more likely to be expelled than other children in preschool.
“We need to have schools ready for children, not children ready for schools, particularly in preschool,” Zwolak said on Tuesday’s “St. Louis on the Air.” “We need to be prepared to receive children who are coming from many different backgrounds. And we need to tool up teachers on what that really means for them.”
Preschool classrooms, Mr. Deming said, look a lot like the modern work world. Children move from art projects to science experiments to the playground in small groups, and their most important skills are sharing and negotiating with others. But that soon ends, replaced by lecture-style teaching of hard skills, with less peer interaction.
Work, meanwhile, has become more like preschool.
Jobs that require both socializing and thinking, especially mathematically, have fared best in employment and pay, Mr. Deming found. They include those held by doctors and engineers. The jobs that require social skills but not math skills have also grown; lawyers and child-care workers are an example. The jobs that have been rapidly disappearing are those that require neither social nor math skills, like manual labor.
"There is widespread consensus among the business community, and growing bipartisan consensus among public officials, that investments in early childhood are the best long-term investments we can make in our workforce, in our educational system and the overall well-being of our commonwealth,” he said.
Koonce spoke at a meeting on the economics of early childhood education hosted by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce at the University of Richmond.
Virginia’s economy will need more than 2 million new workers over the next 10 years, he said. Businesses have traditionally devoted resources to training adults for jobs, he said, “but it is a equally, if not more important, for the private sector to be involved at the start of the pipeline.”
He said businesses and public officials need to consider how resources might better be allocated to serve “high-quality pre-K programs that have accountability and performance measurements in place.”
The quality of early childhood education can be linked to educational outcomes later in life, said John Weinberg, a staff economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
Now, Gates's focus appears to be getting more specific. In our email exchange, Weber described Gates's new focus this way: "Our work will have a specific focus on improving the provision of high-quality pre-K for three- and four-year-olds as well as supporting a well-prepared and compensated workforce."
This explains the foundation's recent grant for $100,000 to the Institute of Medicine in October 2014 to support a study that will "inform a national framework for strengthening the capacity of parents of young children, birth to age eight."
Another key point about Gates's ECE strategy, as Sarah Weber put it: "We do not expect to provide grants to direct service providers." Rather, the foundation hopes to work with city, state, and federal partners to develop promising programs and to couple workforce development efforts with high-quality child care options.
This intrigued me, so I asked Weber if I could get some more details. I wanted to get a sense of what the pairing of workforce development granting with ECE grantmaking would look like. But right now, the foundation is not ready to answer those kinds of questions. We will keep checking with them, though, to find out more when the picture becomes clearer.
I also wanted to know more about Gates's exemplar programs. To learn about that, Weber referred me to this study commissioned by the Gates Foundation and written by James Minervino, which describes in great detail the four exemplar programs that Gates is using to shape quality early learning. Some key findings? All exemplar programs have two adults in the classroom, and all exemplar programs have no more than 22 children in the classroom. Another key finding: Quality pre-K thrives in an environment where political leaders are active on the issue, particularly mayors and governors.
Democrat Sannie Overly promised a Jack Conway administration would spend more money on public preschool programs while Republican Jenean Hampton said it was a "non-issue" for Matt Bevin during a statewide televised debate of Kentucky's major party nominees for lieutenant governor just two weeks before the election.
"This whole issue, this is a non-issue for us. This wasn't even on our radar," Hampton said when asked if a Bevin administration would provide public preschool programs in Kentucky. "The reason the Conway camp is blowing this out of proportion is they have no other substance to offer. So they do what they always do, which is deflect attention from the real problems in Kentucky."
After the debate, Hampton told The Associated Press she meant that cutting spending for public preschool programs was the non-issue, saying "it wasn't even on our radar for budget cuts or anything else."
"I rose out of poverty. Obviously I care about kids education," said Hampton, who was raised in Detroit by a single mother who could not afford a television or a car.
In 1992, the National Bureau of Economic Research began a 10-year study of the personalities of 1,420 low-income children in western North Carolina.
When researchers revisited some of their data last month, they noticed a trend they hadn't studied before: When the financial condition of the children's families improved, so did their behavior.
In 1997, a casino opened on the North Carolina's Eastern Cherokee reservation. The tribal-owned casino distributed profits evenly to each adult tribal member. During the study, these semiannual payments averaged $2,000 and gave a quarter of the study's families a major income boost.
Every year, the researchers asked parents comprehensive questions about the behavior of their children. They used this data to identify trends in how the children's personalities evolved. They found children of parents who received casino money had a measured increase in their conscientiousness (their tendency to be organized, responsible and hardworking) as well as their agreeableness (tendency to act in a cooperative and unselfish manner).
And the change was more pronounced for children whose casino payments made the biggest financial impact.
Lawmakers are moved by the data -- studies that show children are better prepared when they start school and that each dollar invested results in a $7 return -- but they are also moved by personal, face-to-face stories of what the program did for their constituent's children or the frustration of not having it available, Poole said.
"Legislators need to hear the results, they need to hear the needs," Poole said.
The Alabama School Readiness Alliance and its Pre-K Task Force are leading a 10 year, $125 million campaign to fully fund First Class Pre-K by 2023. Accomplishing that will require advocates to make their voices heard, Bridgeforth said.
"There is no substitute for advocacy," Bridgeforth said. "We have to continue to urge legislators to make Pre-k a priority."
When it comes to programs designed to care for children, New Jersey is among the best in the nation in some areas, however, more work still needs to be done.
One of the state’s leading child advocates said Jersey’s preschool and child insurance programs are very good, but worries remain about the state’s rapidly rising child poverty rate and child care costs.
“In our state-funded preschool program we serve more children in a high quality program than pretty much any other state both in terms of the number of children and the quality of the program,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ).
Each fall, a new crop of preschoolers sets out for their first taste of formal education. Usually, this means kids in classrooms, playing with blocks, painting, and training their bodies to sit still for what will be the next 13 years in a classroom. But right now a new experiment in early education is playing out in parks around Seattle, Washington. At Fiddleheads Forest School, three and four-year-olds will spend their whole school day outside — playing in the mud, climbing over logs, and learning about bugs and birds. Even in famously rainy Seattle, there are no buildings for this school. If there’s a storm, they take cover in a greenhouse.
The Fiddleheads “classroom” is a clearing under a canopy of cedar, fir, and maple trees in Washington Park Arboretum. Sprinkled around the clearing are different “stations” — a circle of logs to sit and eat lunch on, several more upturned cedar logs that are being used as tables for painting or for reading. The “Science,” station has laminated cards diagraming the life cycle of a preying mantis, a microscope, and a plastic terrarium to entomb the students’ captured crickets.
The $1 million of funding will be used to make sure thousands of 3-year-olds are screened for health and development issues as part of a program called Screen @ Three. The initiative will ensure that an extra 7,000 children are screened by 2018.
Generation Next officials say that early childhood screening helps connect kids to needed services at an earlier age so they are ready for kindergarten. They say the majority of 3-year-olds in Minneapolis and St. Paul are not screened.
The other $3 million will be used to help improve the quality of child care access across the two cities in partnership with an initiative called Think Small. Generation Next officials say that kids who attend high-quality child care are nearly twice as likely to be school ready as those who don’t, so the money will help prepare an additional 1,700 kids for kindergarten over the next three years.
The money will be used to offer child care providers extra training and resources.
Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher on Thursday provided a key victory to a coalition of parents, educators and city leaders suing the state when he rejected the state's request to exclude evidence related to preschool from a trial that will determine whether the state is spending enough on education overall.
"What is the testimony about preschool evidence with respect to how it effects primary school and secondary school education? It's hard for me to make a ruling on that until I hear evidence," Moukawsher told lawyers representing the state and those representing the Coalition for Justice in Education Funding. "I will hear the evidence and maybe it will convince me that its so tightly connected to primary and secondary schools that it is appropriate."
The state still has a long way to go before it reaches universal preschool for the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds. State officials reported earlier this year that 10,109 children from low-income families — nearly one-third of poor students — cannot afford to enroll in a high-quality preschool program. To provide universal access to preschool, districts would have to add 814 preschool classrooms.
Today, the Children’s Institute is releasing the results of our recentOregon School District Preschool Survey. The report shows which Oregon school districts have preschool programs, and details how they operate the programs.
As part of our focus on the learning and healthy development of children from birth through third grade, the Children’s Institute is committed to increasing access to preschool and ensuring preschool programs meet quality standards. Preschool is a critical piece of Oregon’s vision of a P-20 education continuum, from preschool through advanced college degree. And we know that high-quality preschool can help close the persistent opportunity gap between children in poverty and their more affluent peers.
Yet only a fraction of children from low-income Oregon families have access to quality preschool.
Children who change schools frequently start falling behind by the time they reach fourth grade, according to a study of low-income children.
The study found that moving from school to school more than twice in the five years from Head Start preschool through third grade correlated with lower scores on math tests.
Allison Friedman-Krauss, assistant research professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, co-authored the study. She says the difference is about 10 points on standardized achievement tests.
"Children who moved three or four times over that five-year period - compared to children who didn't move frequently - scored lower on the math achievement by about eight months of learning," she points out.
When it comes to early childhood policies that put children on the path to success, the U.S. is failing American children and families.
Researching educational inequality for our new book Too Many Children Left Behind(Russell Sage Foundation, 2015), my colleagues and I found that children of less-educated parents in the U.S. lag behind children of more-educated parents by more than a year in both reading and math skills before they even start kindergarten--a significantly larger gap than is seen in our peer countries, such as the UK, Canada, and Australia.
The implication is clear: If the odds are stacked against disadvantaged children before they even step foot in school, we must look for remedies in early childhood. Luckily, there is no mystery as to how to do this. We can look to the track records of our peers in the U.K., Canada, and Australia, who have demonstrated that we can successfully invest in our children's future by strengthening early childhood policies.
Despite the demise of the Preschool For All act at the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown last week, advocates are remaining optimistic in their quest to increase access for students from low-income families to early education programs.
Brown elected Friday, Oct. 9, to veto Assembly Bill 47, which aimed to guarantee all state students would be able to enroll in preschool programs by 2018, so long as there was room in the state budget to fund such an effort.
In his veto statement, Brown said he did not support setting arbitrary deadlines, but promised he would stay committed to paying the way for eligible students through early education programs via the state budget.
And though they said it is unfortunate Brown was unwilling to sign the bill authored by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, local early education advocates said they considered the governor’s willingness to find funding for preschool heartening.
“It’s crucial that all kids have access to high-quality preschool programs, and we’re supportive of the governor’s decision to allow that process to play out within the structure of the state budget,” said Allie Jaarsma, spokeswoman for the San Mateo County Office of Education, in an email.
Preschool providers in Dayton will get a half-million-dollar boost this month that will help 135 disadvantaged students get better prepared for kindergarten by age 5.
The money is part of $15 million in additional early childhood education funding from this summer’s state budget bill, and will benefit 3,675 students in 55 school districts statewide. In addition to Dayton, funding has been approved for preschool providers in the Fairborn, Tecumseh, Springfield and Tri-Village areas.
Juan Diego Prudot was successful at a very young age. With the abundant opportunities afforded those of means, he has chosen the path of a social entrepreneur in an effort to improve early childhood education around the world.
Prudot sees the problem this way, “Over 100 million children under the age of six are living in underserved communities and do not have access to quality early childhood education. This situation leads to children being unprepared to enter primary school and with a weaker social and emotional foundation, thus making it more challenging for the youth to thrive and become productive members of society.”
Prudot led the formation of a team of student entrepreneurs in Taiwan, where he attends business school at National Chengchi University. The team launched IMPCT, which operates Playcares.com, and competed in and won the 2015 Hult Prize competition at the Clinton Global Initiative last month.
Prudot explains the business, which provides infrastructure for women in the developing world to provide bona fide educational services rather than mere daycare, saying, “We are building a bridge between people that want and are able to become part of a solution with hardworking communities that only need an opportunity. Playcares.com is not only a financial inclusion mechanism to empower women to run Playcares, but it is also a way to generate awareness of how quality early childhood education will break the poverty cycle.”
Deborah Kong, president of Early Edge, said Brown’s veto was a “missed opportunity.”
“We’re glad to see that the governor recognizes the promise made last year and look forward to engaging with his administration in the coming budget process,” Kong said in a statement to EdSource. “There remains a significant unmet need for preschool in California, with tens of thousands of low-income children who do not have access to preschool. To them and their families, this is very necessary.”
McCarty also expressed dismay in Brown’s veto.
“I’m disappointed in the Governor’s veto of AB 47, the Preschool for All Act of 2015,” he said in a statement. “Quality early childhood education has been proven to help close the achievement gap, fight poverty, and prevent kids from entering the juvenile justice system.”
Can 4-year-olds learn what they need to know for kindergarten by sitting in front of a computer for 15 minutes a day?
Utah is betting they can. This year, more than 6,600 children across the state are learning by logging on to laptops at home in a taxpayer-funded online preschool program that is unlike any other.
This is preschool without circle time on the carpet, free play with friends and real, live teachers. In online preschool, children navigate through a series of lessons, games and songs with the help of a computer mouse and two animated raccoons named Rusty and Rosy. It’s a sign of the growing interest among educators in using technology to customize learning, even for the youngest children. It also gives children who might otherwise not get any preparation for elementary school a chance to experience an academic program. But it’s also missing some ingredients — especially social and emotional learning — that many experts and parents consider central to the education of young children.
In vetoing Assembly Bill 47, titled The Preschool For All Act of 2015, Governor Brown states that there isn’t a need to set a deadline for meeting the needs of California’s youngest learners. Tens of thousands of families in every corner of the state would disagree. His decision, to keep the goal of providing universal preschool to every child who needs it elusive, is out of step with President Obama, the California legislature, and the more than 70% of California voters who support universal preschool. Even though more than 60% of California’s Latino four-year-olds and half of African-American four-year-olds are not enrolled in preschool, Governor Brown says we can continue on modest, incremental efforts rather than clear and decisive planning. We stand with Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, and AB 47 co-authors Assembly Members Bonta, Chávez, Eduardo Garcia, and Rendon, declaring that children’s futures deserve more. From President Obama, to a majority of Republican and Democratic members of the State Legislature, to business leaders, neuroscientists, teachers, parents and advocates — everyone agrees that high quality universal preschool matters.