Early Education in the News
Research shows preschool builds a foundation for literacy. Oregon students who are strong readers by third grade graduate 77 percent of the time. If they’re not? The Oregon graduation rate is 53 percent.
“Kids who are in high-quality preschool — particularly low-income kids — are far more likely to graduate from high school,” said Swati Adarkar of the Portland-based Children’s Institute. “They’re far more likely to go on to college, they’re far more likely not to need special education as they go on in the elementary grades. These are all huge game-changers.”
The research is clear: The early years of a child’s life are some of the most formative for his or her cognitive and emotional development. Given the importance of early learning and the growing consensus surrounding the benefits of quality preschool programs, it’s no surprise that local, state and federal leaders nationwide, of all political stripes, have begun rallying behind efforts to expand access to high-quality early childhood programs.
That’s why last year, in order to ensure that we are doing all we can to best serve Virginia’s children, I created the Children’s Cabinet and the Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success. The council is specifically focused on those crucial early years of a child’s development, and is working to assess current programs, services and public resources so that we can develop effective programs best tailored to foster the health, growth and cognitive development of children.
But while the benefits of early childhood education programs are clear, in Virginia – as well as throughout much of the country – access to quality preschool remains financially out of reach for thousands of families. As a result, many of our nation’s youngest and most vulnerable individuals are starting their K-12 schooling a step behind their peers from more affluent families. It’s time to change that.
State senators are likely to pass Gov. Greg Abbott's "gold standard" pre-kindergarten legislation into law, but not before the chamber's far-right conservatives make clear they question its necessity. On Thursday, the Senate Public Education Committee approved House Bill 4 by Dan Huberty, R-Houston, an Abbott-backed bill that would funnel $130 million to certain pre-K programs that meet additional quality benchmarks based on teacher training levels, child improvement measures and more. HB4 does not expand existing state-sponsored pre-k, which is offered currently just to four-year-olds from homeless, military and non-native English speaking families. In the House committee, most lawmakers discussed the positive impact full-day pre-K would have in Texas, if not for insurmountable political and fiscal barriers.
According to a study by researchers at the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University, states doubled their funding for preschools between 2003 and 2013, when 1.3 million three- and four-year-olds were enrolled at a cost of $5.4 billion. Despite these efforts, most classrooms were found by researchers to be economically segregated.
"A lot of programs are not high quality, and low-income children are most likely to be in low-quality programs," Jeanne Reid, who wrote the report with Sharon Lynn Kagan, told the Washington Post. It was funded by The Century Foundation, a left-leaning think tank, and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, a civil rights organization.
In the past few years, the debate surrounding child poverty has become increasingly centered around early childhood. As early as eighteen months of age, disparities arise in children’s vocabulary based on the income of their families. Neuro-imaging has shown that the repeated stress of living in poverty can have negative effects on a child’s developing brain.
The bottom line? Inequality begins at birth.
In the policy sphere, this discovery has translated into a push for pre-kindergarten education, with Mayor Bill de Blasio starting a universal pre-k program in New York City last fall and President Obama pushing for a nationwide universal preschool program of his own. And for good reason—the rate of return for early childhood education programs is estimated to be seven dollars for every one dollar invested, due to savings on down-the-line social costs, such as incarceration and health care. Preschool, like K-12 education, is increasingly being thought of as a public good, one that considers all children deserving of high-quality early education.
However, unlike K-12 education, the idea of equity in preschool has not garnered the same level of attention. That is, the limited number of preschool programs that do exist often isolate students by income and race, with impoverished and minority children having less access to high-quality programs (those with small class size, small teacher-to-child ratio, and qualified teachers). If preschool is to be used as a vehicle to help tackle child poverty, instituting equity among classrooms should be a bigger concern.
Publicly funded preschools across the country are largely segregated by race and income, and poor children are typically enrolled in the lowest quality programs, according to a new report released Wednesday by researchers at the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University.
While states more than doubled their investments in preschool between 2003 and 2013, when 1.3 million three- and four-year-olds were enrolled at a cost of $5.4 billion, most classrooms were economically segregated, the researchers found.
“If every child could be in a high-quality program, we could all go home and not worry about it,” said Jeanne Reid, who wrote the report with Sharon Lynn Kagan. It was funded by The Century Foundation, a left-leaning think tank, and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council, a civil rights organization. “But a lot of programs are not high quality, and low-income children are most likely to be in low-quality programs.”
A popular and well-regarded preschool program in Los Angeles, which was created more than three decades ago to help children and their parents in low-income, racially and ethnically isolated neighborhoods of the city, would be shut down over the next two years under a district proposal to cut costs.
The specialized program, known as the School Readiness Language Development Program, has been in the budget-cutting crosshairs for several years. Now, Los Angeles Unified School District Interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines’ budget plan proposes to eliminate the program, which currently serves about 10,000 4-year-olds – nearly one-third of the 35,000 pre-kindergarten slots offered by the state’s largest school district. At its peak, the preschool program enrolled about 16,000 students.
Maureen Diekmann, executive director of the district’s Early Childhood Education programs, said Cortines, who returned to the district this year as interim superintendent, “has been a supporter of early education for years.” But she added, “This is not about that. This is about money.”
But Mr. de Blasio's signature issue – free universal pre-K classes for 4-year-olds – is increasingly popular. He has accomplished the largest expansion of early childhood education of any city in the nation's history.
The mayor worked hard for this achievement, an effort to boost the lives of very young New Yorkers and their families.Last year, during Mr. de Blasio's first months in office, more than 50,000 children were registered citywide to attend pre-kindergarten classes, over double the 2013 total of 20,000.
Now almost 69,000 applications have been submitted during the first round of city enrollments for pre-K seats during the 2015-16 school year. Island enrollments so far in 2015 have risen to 4,111.
Spending money on pre-kindergarten programs now will inevitably save the taxpayers of Pennsylvania money in the long run when they are not paying as much to lock up criminals, according to a report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.
To drive that point home on Wednesday, District Attorneys Risa Ferman, Montgomery County; Seth Williams, Philadelphia; Jack Whelan, Delaware County; and Tom Hogan, Chester County, joined each other on stage at the DoubleTree hotel in King of Prussia to introduce the report, dubbed “We’re the Guys You Pay Later.”
In short, the report states that much more money is spent on prosecuting defendants and locking them up in the county jails and state prisons than is spent on investing in education for children before kindergarten. Approximately $2 billion is spent on prisons in Pennsylvania, according to the report.
Gov. Mark Dayton got some help Tuesday from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in his unwavering push to spend part of the state’s budget surplus to increase access to state-funded preschool. After visiting a preschool class at Richardson Elementary in North St. Paul, Dayton said he would not agree to a budget that didn’t include a substantial investment in early childhood education.
“With a $2 billion surplus, we are not going to settle for a pittance,” Dayton said. “We are going to insist that children be number one.”
The governor has proposed $343 million in new spending so every 4-year-old can attend public preschool if their parents want to enroll them. He also has proposed new funding to expand preschool scholarships and eliminate the waiting list for the Head Start program.
Gov. Steve Beshear, Toyota and United Way on April 24 announced the expansion of innovative early childhood academies to 36 more schools across the state. The initiative is funded by Kentucky’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge federal grant and Toyota’s manufacturing operations in Kentucky.
While the number of words is important, how words are used also matters, said Barbara T. Bowman, a child-development professor and co-founder of the Chicago-based Erikson Institute. Children of professionals heard twice as many unique words and twice as many encouraging words than children in other family situations. According to the research, more than 85 percent of the "vocabulary, conversational patterns and language complexity of the 3-year-olds had come from their families," Sparks writes. The vocabularies of children of professionals were nearly twice the size of the vocabularies of children from families receiving welfare.
The key to that direction, Stedman said, is education, and the earlier society provides it, the better. That's why the district attorney and Lancaster County Sheriff Mark Reese are advocating for increased state funding for early childhood education.
Stedman and Reese met with Rep. Bryan Cutler at a Head Start center in Lancaster on Monday to voice their support for Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed $120 million budget increases in that area. Read more details on Wolf's proposal for early learning programs here.
In Lancaster County, 83 percent of low-income children don't have access to publicly funded high-quality pre-kindergarten, according to a 2014 analysis by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, a nonpartisan advocacy group.
House Republicans on Saturday approved an education budget bill that increases spending by $157 million , setting up a confrontation with DFLers in the House and Senate who call the amount paltry.
The 69-61 vote, largely along party lines, occurred after about five hours of debate. Rep. Mark Uglem , R- Champlin , voted against the measure. Rep. Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, and Rep. Dave Baker , R- Willmar , did not vote. Baker was in Willmar as part of a delegation coordinating the state's bird flu response, and Davnie was excused for a family event, a DFL spokesman said.
The omnibus education bill would bring state spending on education to $16.9 billion , about 40 percent of the overall general fund budget.
The ill effects of being a couch potato kick in fast for kindergartners, a new study suggests.
Kindergarten children who watched television for more than one hour a day were 52% more likely to be overweight than their schoolmates who watched less TV, researchers said Sunday. The kids who spent at least an hour each day in front of the boob tube were also 72% more likely to be obese.
Dozens of teachers and House DFL members rallied Saturday ahead of a floor debate on a Republican-sponsored education bill that they say will result in the cutting of programs and teaching staff, among other effects.
House members are taking up the GOP-sponsored education omnibus bill, which proposes spending $1.06 billion more than the current two-year budget cycle. Of that, $157 million is new spending. Republicans are proposing an overall $16.9 billion budget for education. Gov. Mark Dayton, by comparison, has proposed $695 million in new spending, the bulk of which would be for his top priority of offering universal preschool for all four-year-olds in the state. The Senate DFL has proposed spending an additional $350 million, and House DFLers this week called for $800 million in new spending.
If Gov. Mark Dayton gets his way, all-day, every day preschool would be available to all Minnesota school districts.
He’s proposing to invest a large chunk of the state’s projected $1.9 billion surplus — $343 million — in universal preschool for 4-year-olds, and a total of $695 million for pre-K-12 education. Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius was in Duluth on Thursday to talk about Dayton’s education spending proposals and to hold a “listening session” with Duluthians.
“Research is so clear that kids have to have an early start in order to be ready for kindergarten and in order to not get behind,” Cassellius told the News Tribune. “Why do we have achievement gaps? Because we’ve been shortchanging kids on the front end.”
The percentage of the state’s 4-year-olds enrolled in publicly funded preschool is 15 percent, she said.
The economists and Montana lawmen have looked at the facts: What happens or doesn’t happen in the first few years of life is a strong predictor of whether a person will graduate from high school, become a teen parent, go to prison, get a good job, go on welfare and own a home. . .
All children need the skills that are taught in high-quality preschool. Low-income children are less likely to learn these skills outside of school, and their parents are less able to afford private preschool. State-funded preschool would bring these 4-year-olds closer to an even start.
We call on all Montana legislators who want to prevent crime and increase workforce readiness to support pre-K. How about starting with pilot programs to serve 4-year-olds in low-income neighborhoods?
More than 100 law enforcement leaders across Minnesota are asking lawmakers for a minimum of $150 million a year for preschool programs.
They say early learning programs can help children develop a foundation for the future, reduce school behavior problems and cut back on the number of children who are held back in school.
Gov. Mark Dayton wants to send every 4-year-old to school for free and says he won’t compromise on his $343 million plan for universal preschool.
New Jersey's Assembly Budget Committee will hold its hearing on education funding at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Trenton. . . . The budget proposal includes a $3.3 million increase for interdistrict school choice aid and $2.7 million for preschool education aid.