Early Education in the News

National Journal
June 24, 2014

For example, preschool enrollment has skyrocketed since 1970, which is the main reason the report's education score shows such a dramatic incline over time. Economists and educators generally view preschool as one of the best ways to ensure that disadvantaged children graduate from high school and (in theory) contribute to the economy. Yet the topline economic figures in the historical report don't reflect economic improvement. The economic score actually dropped from 62.4 to 48.5 over 40 years.

That doesn't mean preschool hasn't helped, but you need more context (outside of the report's scope) to understand how early education is impacting the economy. The short answer is that it may be too soon to tell. In 1970, there was nowhere to go but up with preschool. Government funded Head Start had been created just five years earlier, and only about 10 percent of three- and four-year olds attended some form of preschool, most of it private. Now, that figure is 48 percent. What's more, 28 percent of kids are in preschool programs that receive government funding, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.

New York Times
June 24, 2014

While highly educated, ambitious parents who are already reading poetry and playing Mozart to their children in utero may not need this advice, research shows that many parents do not read to their children as often as researchers and educators think is crucial to the development of pre-literacy skills that help children succeed once they get to school.

Reading, as well as talking and singing, is viewed as important in increasing the number of words that children hear in the earliest years of their lives. Nearly two decades ago, an oft-cited study found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than have those of less educated, low-income parents, giving the children who have heard more words a distinct advantage in school. New research shows that these gaps emerge as early as 18 months.

Seattle Times
June 24, 2014

A fight simmering for months between Seattle City Council president Tim Burgess and two unions that together represent 1,500 child-care workers in Seattle will be settled by voters in November. The City Council voted unanimously Monday to place a $58 million property-tax levy on the November ballot to boost the quality and affordability of preschool in Seattle.

They also voted to put Initiative 107, a separate union-backed child-care proposal that was supported by nearly 22,000 signatures, on the November ballot. However, the council voted to consider it a competing, rather than complementary measure. That means voters will have to choose between them rather than voting for both.

June 24, 2014

"Quality is a really important aspect of pre-K. And in universal pre-K, public pre-K, every 3 and 4-year-old now has access to high quality public pre-K programming. And unfortunately, as many high quality programs as we have, we have more programs that just aren’t high quality. Many more programs are struggling and just can’t offer quality care. And that’s a real dilemma now that this bill has passed, because it’s only for high quality programs. So state agencies, philanthropists, providers, early learning professionals, we now have to work very concerted to improve the quality and the access to high quality programs."

June 24, 2014

Children whose parents read to them get a head start on language skills and literacy. But many children miss out on that experience, with one-third of children starting kindergarten without the language skills they need to learn to read. In a policy statement released Tuesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for pediatricians to talk with all parents about reading to their children starting in infancy, and to give books to "high-risk, low-income young children" at office visits.

Sacramento Business Journal
June 24, 2014

West Sacramento’s bid to offer preschool to all of its youngest residents has resulted in it being honored as one of the most livable cities in the U.S. by the national Conference of Mayors.

According to a news release from the ongoing conference in Dallas, West Sacramento’s program stands out for helping children of preschool age gain literacy skills before they begin kindergarten, particularly youngsters who speak English as a second language.

Miami Herald
June 24, 2014

Gov. Rick Scott visited a daycare center in Little Havana on Tuesday touting his early childhood education proposals on what was the first stop of his gubernatorial campaign’s “Caring for Florida Families” tour. He talked about adding 270 additional child protective investigative personnel and a boost in funding for the state’s popular Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program. He is proposing every child receive an additional $100 a year to attend preschool, an amount he says would be the largest increase in a decade.

He also plans to expand the number of “personal learning accounts,” which provides up to $9,000 to parents and caretakers with disabled children to be spent for educational purposes. In addition, he wants to implement a hot-line service, “Help Me Grow,” for parents to have instant access to needed services.

The Buffalo News [Op-Ed]
June 23, 2014

Among the bills that sailed through the legislative flurry in Albany last week, perhaps none is as critical to the future of the City of Buffalo as the one requiring all 5-year-olds to attend kindergarten. . . . Without kindergarten, some students are entering first grade without the social skills and basic knowledge needed to succeed. They start out behind other students, and may never catch up.

The Daily Item
June 23, 2014

Paid leave and access to child care are surging to the top of the nation’s political debate as Democrats and Republicans seek to win votes and advance policies to address the economic struggles of families trying to raise children and hold jobs. A high-profile White House “working families” summit Monday will focus on issues such as child care, paid family leave and equal pay between men and women. Politicians in both parties are also rolling out new parental leave and child-care legislation amid predictions that such issues will be prominent in the 2014 midterm and 2016 presidential campaigns.

VPR News (NPR)
June 23, 2014

[A] year from now, all children in Vermont will be offered a place in preschool or daycare. Many schools will outsource instruction to private childcare providers who must be qualified to participate, based on a rating system.

Over 80 percent of Vermont’s towns currently offer some subsidized preschool, but only about 38 percent of Vermont’s children are enrolled. The new law is designed to bring more early education to more kids. It’s expected to cost an additional $10 million over the next seven years, and local districts and philanthropists will also carry some of the cost.

Centre Daily Times [Op-Ed]
June 23, 2014

Decades of compelling scientific research prove that quality early learning experiences resonate for a lifetime. Almost 90 percent of the brain is developed by age 5, laying the groundwork for academic and social success. Quality programs help young children develop core character traits, including stronger focus and self-control, better communication skills, critical thinking and the abilities to work in teams or engage in self-directed learning.

June 21, 2014

The nation’s mayors had a crash course in neuroscience this morning as brain expert Patricia Kuhl showed them how much early childhood education makes a difference. The interaction and experiences children have from birth to five determine what kind of connections in the brain stay over a lifetime, said Kuhl, the co-director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington. . .

Kuhl is showing how much more the brain is engaged when an infant has access to quality language engagement at 12 months old. The activity is increased when a child has a that engagement in more than one language, she said.
The Washington Times
June 21, 2014

Former President Bill Clinton has joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to push for better access to early childhood education.

In a news release, Emanuel says the city has committed $36 million over three years to early childhood education. The mayor’s office says that will help provide programming for an additional 5,000 Chicago children.

Graphic Online
June 20, 2014

The National Director of World Vision Ghana, Mr Hubert Charles, has urged the government to increase budgetary allocation for early childhood education to promote access and quality. He said this would strengthen the infrastructure and human resource base at that level of education and ensure that interventions such as the School Feeding Programme became well structured. 

The Daily Journal
June 19, 2014

Compromise is the name of the game with the California budget’s inclusion of additional preschool programming, which is going to include less transitional kindergarten than initially anticipated. The plan, part of the 2014-15 budget passed by the Legislature Sunday, includes an early childhood education package that proposes $268 million to increase access and improve quality in existing programs. It establishes an ongoing $50 million annual grant to support quality improvements in the state’s preschool programming and provides $35 million for professional development and facilities, while creating 11,500 full-day spaces in state preschool for low-income 4-year-olds.

District Administration
June 19, 2014

High-quality preschools in a Utah district began receiving funds from a first-of-its-kind, $4.6 million social impact bond from investment banking firm Goldman Sachs last fall. The goal is to improve instruction in order to prevent students from needing special education or remedial services.

June 19, 2014

Poverty has little association with the cognitive abilities of nine-month-old children (Fryer and Levitt 2013). By the start of kindergarten, however, not only do poor children perform significantly worse on tests of cognitive ability than children from higher-income families, but teachers also report that these children have much more difficulty paying attention and exhibit more behavioral problems (Duncan and Magnuson 2011). The poverty gap in school readiness appears to be growing as income inequality widens (Reardon 2011). 

Dallas Observer
June 18, 2014

This past spring, Dallas ISD rolled out a generally successful push for eligible families to sign their 4-year-olds up for pre-k. Early registration more than doubled, from 3,288 to 6,905, and while the increase in the number of kids who ultimately enrolled was slightly less impressive -- from about 9,000 to about 9,500 -- a 5.5 percent jump isn't bad. DISD's pre-K expansion, though, is just getting started. . . 

According to a report from the National Institute for Early Education Research, just 15 percent of Texas 3-year-olds are enrolled in Head Start or a state-funded pre-k program. That figure doesn't include kids in high-quality private pre-k -- a not insubstantial number -- but it's low, about a fourth of what it is for 4-year-olds.
June 17, 2014

Detroit is among just five places in the U.S. selected for millions of dollars in federal funds for an Office of Head Start program aimed at improving early childhood education in the city.

With $60 million in federal money, a group of Detroit community-based agencies are participating in the so-called Birth to Five pilot program, including Starfish Family Services, Development Centers, Inc.; Focus: HOPE , Southwest Solutions and HighScope Educational Research Foundation.

The collaborative is set to get $12 million annually for five years, with the grant money going toward community-based childcare, K-3 education and investments in family and parent engagement, the group said. Detroit joined Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Sunflower County, Miss. and Jersey City, N.J. in the five places targeted with the money.

June 17, 2014

More than 120 school districts from upstate and Long Island will compete for $40 million in available grant money for full-day pre-kindergarten. . .

The initial interest is higher than what stakeholders and pre-K advocates expected. The groups had warned that the after-the-fact reimbursement process would deter upstate districts from applying, because they wouldn't have money to front for the considerable expenses of identifying new space and hiring teachers.