Early Education in the News
Mayor Ed Lee took steps Tuesday to make San Francisco a little more family friendly and easier to get around, announcing the city would provide funding to help pay for basic preschool for all 4-year-olds in the city. . .
About 3,800 4-year-olds are enrolled in San Francisco’s Preschool for All program, which was started a decade ago when voters approved a mandate to create a universal prekindergarten program. The program has been regularly expanded since then, with Lee’s current proposal to add 860 spots over the next two school years — significantly more than the roughly 500 children on the wait list. City officials estimated the expansion would add $5 million to $10 million to the cost of the program, which is budgeted to receive $27.5 million in city funds in the current fiscal year.
Julian’s case illustrates a larger, more complex issue simmering inside many of the nation’s early childhood centers that serve children impacted by violence and poverty. According to a recent nationally representative survey, 13 percent of infants a year-old and younger and 44 percent of all 2- to 5-year-olds were assault victims in the prior year. Eight percent of infants and 14 percent of 2-to 5-year-olds had also witnessed violence. Other studies have had similar findings.
Most assaults on young children did not involve a weapon or result in injury, and siblings and playmates were the most common perpetrators. Still, early education experts say, any experience of violence can be traumatic. Yet few preschools have mental health professionals on staff, leaving many children in danger of falling through the cracks. Early investment would save money as well as heartache later on, experts say.
“If we put that money at the front end, we will spend less on special education classes for behavior disorder, we will spend less on adolescent substance abuse, we will spend less on gang violence, we will spend less on the juvenile criminal justice system,” said Margret Nickels, a clinical psychologist at Chicago’s Erikson Institute who is known as an authority on early childhood mental health.
"It's the essential promise of America -- that where you start should not and will not determine how far you can go." That powerful message was shared by President Barack Obama last month at the White House Summit on Early Education. It resonates deeply in the communities where the Children's Defense Fund-California is working to help young people beat the odds cast by the color of their skin and the size of their parents' paychecks.
So we're calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to join President Obama with a bold vision and an economic plan to secure our kids' future. We are joining Raising California Together to call for investment in expanding and strengthening child care as part of California's educational and economic agenda.
The research couldn’t be clearer: The earlier children receive high-quality learning opportunities, the more likely they are to stay in school and achieve success. Early learning helps prevent poverty, crime, and a host of other social ills that cost taxpayers money. But even more important, early learning helps little kids grow up to lead meaningful, productive and satisfying lives.
The state Legislature understood these benefits in 1985 when it created the Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP) to provide early learning for preschool-aged children from families with incomes of 110 percent or less than the federal poverty level. Children also qualify if they have special needs or if they are at risk of certain adverse childhood experiences, such as family violence or homelessness
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced Tuesday that he will expand the city’s Preschool for All program after voters in November approved a ballot measure to help fund public education and children’s services for a quarter-century. Nearly two-thirds of the city’s 4-year-olds are in high-quality preschool programs in San Francisco, said Laurel Kloomek, executive director of San Francisco First5, which oversees 150 preschools in the city. Most of the city’s low-income preschoolers are already enrolled in city preschools, she added.
As City Hall gears up for the second year of its massive pre-kindergarten program, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration will have to reckon with mounting pressure from community-based organizations about salary and benefit disparities that have long plagued the city’s early education programs. C.B.O. providers, who operate pre-kindergarten classes in facilities that are not public schools, stayed relatively quiet during the lead-up to the pre-K rollout last fall, careful not to hedge their enthusiasm about the expansion of early childhood education. But they are now voicing significant concern about pay discrepancies, which can stretch to tens of thousands of dollars, between community center teachers and staff and their Department of Education counterparts.
We need to re-order priorities and develop partnerships across government, business, nonprofit and religious sectors to support families and their children. We must develop an integrated approach to child development that begins with prenatal care and continues through adolescence. Then, public policies and resources must be realigned to consistently support that holistic blueprint.
We would be wiser to invest more in remedying the causes of disadvantaged, disrupted and broken families than what California spends on prisons. Funding and supporting early childhood development must be a priority, not an afterthought.
The Common Core State Standards call for kindergartners to learn how to read, but a new report by early childhood experts says that forcing some kids to read before they are ready could be harmful.
Two organizations that advocate for early childhood education —Defending the Early Years and Alliance for Childhood — issued the reporttitled “Reading in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose.” It says there is no evidence to support a widespread belief in the United States that children must read in prekindergarten or kindergarten to become strong readers and achieve academic success.
Legislation that would provide state funding to expand early childhood education in North Dakota drew plenty of support during its first hearing Tuesday, but leaders of two education groups also said they want to ensure it’s not a gateway to vouchers for private schools. The $6 million in Senate Bill 2151 would cover about half the cost of pre-kindergarten education for an estimated 6,000 children through annual grants of $1,000 per student starting in the 2016-17 school year, said the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo.
The Universal Pre-K Act (Act 166) was passed in the Vermont state legislature last year. In November, mandatory implementation was delayed until 2016. Districts had the choice to begin next fall. CESU and a third of the state's supervisory unions will be taking advantage of that option. Alberghini cites the effect on students as the primary reason.
Congress is currently revving up yet another attempt to rewrite the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act, and Murray said Tuesday that she sees putting her stamp on the sweeping education legislation as "another big step forward, putting the ideals of our nation into action." No Child Left Behind, George W. Bush's rebranding of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, required that students in America's public schools be tested in math and reading in certain grades, and punished schools based on those scores. Since then, it has earned a reputation from nearly everyone for being too crude in its metrics, because it relies on raw test scores as opposed to student growth. On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that after years of working around Congress to get states out of the law by issuing waivers, the Obama administration is ready to go back to the legislative drawing board.
For teachers in publicly funded child-care centers, Louisiana demands little more than that they be 18 or older. There is no education requirement or mandatory training. But the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education decided Tuesday in committee that these pre-school teachers must take classes of their own to learn more about young children's care and development. The move is part of a statewide push to improve pre-school, authorized by Act 3 of the 2012 legislative session and related laws. Other recent changes include the Education Department taking over management of pre-school programs, new academic report cards and coordinated pre-school enrollment. The rules apply to all pre-schools that accept public funding, such as those participating in the Child Care Assistance program.
Libby Doggett, who oversees early-childhood policy for the U.S. Department of Education, has a long history in the field, including work with the National Head Start Association and the Pew Charitable Trusts, where she led the philanthropy's Home Visiting campaign and its Pre-K Now initiative.
But the latest work in early-childhood nationwide is energizing even to this self-described "optimist." Said Doggett: "What's been exciting is to have so many unexpected allies. The business community, the law enforcement community, the faith-based community, others [are] stepping forward and saying that 'These are our children, and we're going to help.' And that's what's made the difference."
Head Start programs have been shown to help poor children do better in school, but they may also help them fight obesity, a study suggests. During a year of Head Start preschool, obese and overweight children were much more likely to slim down than comparison groups of kids. The study involved almost 44,000 preschool-aged children in Michigan and the researchers, from the University of Michigan, acknowledge it has weaknesses. But they say the potential benefits are important because obesity is so hard to treat and affects low-income children disproportionately.
The Obama administration wants to add a program in federal law to fund preschool for low-income children. President Obama has unsuccessfully asked Congress to add pre-K to the K-12 system in his annual budget request, saying that it is the most cost-effective way to help disadvantaged children. But Republicans have blanched at spending more on education.
When Greg Abbott made preschool a cornerstone of his education proposal during his campaign for governor, it signaled to some lawmakers that the upcoming legislative session could put more money in the state’s early education program. The issue seems poised to take up a share of the conversation in Austin, with several legislators prefiling bills to expand state-funded preschool. Some lawmakers want to make prekindergarten available to all 4-year-olds. Others want to raise the quality of the existing program and provide enough funding to increase it from half-day to full-day. . .
Texas has some of the weakest quality standards for preschool, with no limits on student-to-teacher ratios or class size, W. Steven Barnett, the National Institute for Early Education research director, has said.
Since November, three American cities have approved plans to offer subsidized preschool to their youngest residents. Could Cincinnati be next? Advocates for the Cincinnati Preschool Promise spent 2014 building support through social media, community forums and one-on-one conversations. The idea is to provide a preschool education to all 3- and 4-year-olds within the boundaries of Cincinnati Public Schools, with tuition assistance offered on a sliding scale. An alliance of education officials, civic groups and business leaders believes that universal preschool could have a range of benefits for Cincinnati, from boosting academic performance and combating childhood poverty to creating a more skilled workforce and attracting families to the city.
A University of Virginia report published last week found that about a third of Virginia youngsters rated poorly on kindergarten readiness and argued that more assessments are needed for young students to identify where they fall short. They found a third of students fell short of benchmarks in at least one area. In 40 percent of classrooms, 40 percent of children were rated “not ready” in one area. The report does not disclose which districts participated, but said the students in the study were representative of the state’s kindergartners.
New data reveals our public—not private—school system is among the best in the world. In fact, except for the debilitating effects of poverty, our public school system may be the best in the world. The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveal that the U.S. ranked high, relative to other OECD countries, in reading, math, and science (especially in reading, and in all areas better in 4th grade than in 8th grade). Some U.S. private schools were included, but a separate evaluation was done for Florida, in public schools only, and their results were higher than the U.S. average. . .
Numerous studies have shown that pre-school helps all children to achieve more and earn more through adulthood, with the most disadvantaged benefiting the most. But the U.S. ranks near the bottom of the developed world in the percentage of 4-year-olds in early childhood education. And yet Head Start was recently hit with the worst cutbacks in its history.
Universal pre-K simply means that all children, regardless of family income or ability, will have access to quality programs that are governed by high standards; serve 3- and 4 year-olds; and focus on school readiness and positive outcomes for children. There is an abundance of evidence-based research on the impact of high quality pre-school education that clearly demonstrate the short and long-term effects on children’s early learning and their overall growth and development. The National Institute for Early Education and Research points out that children enrolled in quality pre-K programs often show significant gains in math and early literacy skills; strong social/emotional and cognitive development; and are better prepared for kindergarten.