Early Education in the News
Idaho is one of just six states that does not fund early childhood education, like preschool. A group of people who made passionate appeals to lawmakers Tuesday want to change that. According to a state test of incoming kindergartners, 54 percent of them don't have the reading skills necessary to start kindergarten. So, on day one, about half of the kids in Idaho are already behind.
Although ECS finds that national spending is increasing, the National Institute for Early Education Research’s (NIEER) Preschool Yearbook may differ, based on how they calculate pre-k allocations. NIEER has not yet released a report for the 2014 year, but discrepancies could arise. In previous reports, ECS’s estimates have proven a bit more optimistic in comparison to NIEER’s. In their report for the 2012-13 school year, ECS noted that Rhode Island’s pre-K program was funded at $1.45 million. Opposed to what is promised to state programs within state budget plans, NIEER data track what is truly spent. In the 2013 Preschool Yearbook, NIEER reported Rhode Island actually spent a little over $1.3 million, falling short of planned funds.
NIEER explains that lack of information surrounding local funds and locally allocated federal funds makes it difficult to determine how much is actually spent on pre-K in each state. Furthermore, states may not allocate funds as they planned: they sometimes use leftover funds to phase out old programs or for other expenditures. And, it’s important to note that the fiscal year versus the actual school year does not coincide, which can leave disparities between appropriations and actual spending.
Although different, both reports show state support for pre-K expansion.
Paying for a new city-sponsored preschool program could get tricky for the Indianapolis City-County Council. Under a proposal the city could consider this week using about $2 million from a reserve fund for the first year. A plan has yet to be figured where the rest of the city’s share of $20 million over five years will come from. The overall plan is to spend $40 million on preschool through a public-private partnership among the city, businesses and philanthropy groups to serve 1,000 poor children. It waspassed the council by a wide margin in December after months debate leading to acompromise between council Democrats and Republican Mayor Greg Ballard.
It was sometimes dry and technical, and always quite civil in a House committee last week, with legislators and officials from Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration professing devotion to Minnesota’s children and especially the 15 percent of children living in poverty. Roiling beneath the surface, however, was the next great policy debate not just here but nationally — the outcome of which is as uncertain as are its politics: child care and education.
Although the fight over the Affordable Care Act continues, Democrats are moving on, and it seems likely that expanded and perhaps universal prekindergarten education and child care will be their next major policy goal. Many Republicans see in this wasteful government spending and the usurpation of the family in favor of the state.
Children's advocates say they're "cautiously optimistic" about Gov. Rick Scott's budget recommendations for the coming spending year, which contain relatively few cuts to programs that serve Florida's children. Last week, Scott touted his "historic" proposals to increase funding for public schools to $7,176 per student and Everglades restoration by more than $5 billion over the next 20 years, including $300 million in the coming budget year.
In comparison, the governor's proposed boost to voluntary pre-kindergarten of $46 per student would bring the total to $2,483 apiece. That means Florida would remain well below the national average of $4,026 per student in 2013, the last year for which the National Institute for Early Education Research had figures available.
President Barack Obama’s 2016 budget includes a renewed push for the broad liberal priority of universal preschool. The budget would invest in a “preschool for all” initiative trying to expand access to high-quality Pre-K programs for 4-year-olds from poor and moderate-income families, and it includes $750 million in grant funding to help states create and expand such programs. Beyond inequality, though, there are a lot of arguments for backing universal Pre-K, many of which aren’t particularly lefty. Early childhood education, for starters, is one of the most efficient places we can investment public money, with broad implications for the costs of social services that have seemingly little to do with school. If you don’t want to spend a lot on incarceration or welfare or Medicaid, you should spend money on preschool.
In a fireside chat keynote at Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s State of the Valley conference Wednesday, Stanford President John Hennessy discussed issues surrounding education reform in Silicon Valley and the broader country.
Hennessy said it was important to rethink the United States’ approach to pre-K through 12th grade education and proposed making pre-K education universal. “Universal pre-K, obviously, is going to require money,” Hennessy said. “Maybe we have to think about universal pre-K with some kind of needs testing, so if your income is below the median income in the U.S., you would get it for free, and otherwise, you’d be asked to contribute something to it.”
Fareed digs into the data to explain why preschool education is such an important part of Obama's budget: it's crucial in a child's mental development.
“This state is at a decision point,” Sondra Samuels said about the choices on early education that have been teed up for the 2015 Legislature. On its face, the choice is this: Should Minnesota extend statewide the work the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) has piloted, using scholarships to enable needy families to enroll young children in programs proven to prepare them for kindergarten?
Or should a similar sum of taxpayer money be used to push school districts to offer free, high-quality preschool to all 4-year-olds, regardless of their families’ means?
After making free all-day kindergarten available around the state, Gov. Mark Dayton wants to spend more than $100 million on preschool programs for 4-year-olds in public schools. The governor's plan is backed by the state teachers' union, Education Minnesota. But some early education groups and experts are skeptical, which may not bode well for Dayton in the Legislature. . .
Dayton's budget preserves the scholarship program, but it doesn't increase funding for it. Instead, the state would cover half the cost for public schools that volunteer to expand or start a preschool program for four-year-olds. Schools also would be eligible for additional state money for things like transportation. And parents wouldn't pay anything for their children to attend.
At the same time, I am deeply troubled about the way I pushed Josue and many other children. Early-childhood education studies suggest that hurrying kids to read doesn't really help them. As Defending the Early Years and the Alliance for Childhood put it in an elegantly simple report this month: "No research documents long-term gains from learning to read in kindergarten." And all the time spent discreetly drilling literacy skills to meet standards imposes a huge opportunity cost. It crowds out the one element in early-childhood classrooms proven to bolster learning outcomes over time: play. . .
In a Preschool Policy Brief, the National Institute for Early Education Research expressed concerns about trends in early literacy assessment, including "the use of assessments that focus on a limited range of skills and the nature of the assessments in use. Both factors may cause teachers to narrow their curriculum and teaching practices, especially when the stakes are high."
Following a dozen years of painstaking groundwork by its advocates, early childhood education is finally a marquee item on Minnesota’s political agenda. There is a surplus of at least $1 billion on the table. Gov. Mark Dayton and his Capitol partisans have declared education their top priority when it comes to spending it and preschoolers the first kids in line.
The city’s two pre-kindergarten admissions processes will become one this year. Parents will apply to pre-K programs in district schools and in community organizations using one application with a single deadline this year, Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced Thursday. Officials said the new process would be simpler for parents, whom officials urged to apply to district and community-based pre-K programs separately last year. The change comes as the city prepares to add another 17,000 full-day pre-K seats this fall, and reflects the city’s desire to create a pre-K system that feels like a unified whole. (Most of the pre-K seats are available in community-based organizations, not district schools, and those organizations have more leeway aroundteacher pay and certification requirements and last year had later application deadlines.)
Access to state-supported early childhood programs significantly reduces the likelihood that children will be placed in special education in the third grade, academically benefiting students and resulting in considerable cost savings to school districts, according to new research published today in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.
The findings suggest that the programs provide direct benefits not only to participating students but also to other third graders through positive spillover effects.
Today, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall announced that he has joined several senators in introducing legislation to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five.
The Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act helps more kids arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed by establishing a federal-state partnership that incentivizes states to improve the quality of their preschool programs and expand to serve more children in need.
“Investing in our children’s education from a young age pays off — not just by making sure every child is ready for kindergarten, but by laying the foundation that ensures they grow up ready to succeed in the 21st-century economy,” Udall said.
D.C. Council member David Grosso’s first bill as Education Committee chairman — seeking a partial ban on suspensions and expulsions of preschool students in public programs — got a strong response from advocates who urged him to push for more sweeping reforms of student discipline practices.
Most of the school leaders, parents and education advocates at a hearing Wednesday welcomed his effort to curb harsh discipline in students’ earliest years, when they are beginning to learn appropriate social behavior. But they said it’s a drop in the bucket.
“We must acknowledge that this is just one step to ending the school-to-prison pipeline,” said Maggie Riden, executive director of D.C. Alliance of Youth Advocates.
Attending state-funded prekindergarten substantially reduces the likelihood that students will end up in special education programs later on, according to a new study by researchers at Duke University. The study examined 13 years' worth of data from students enrolled in More at Four, a state-funded program for 4-year-olds in North Carolina. By the third grade, the researchers found, children in the program were 32 percent less likely to end up in a special education program. Children who were part of Smart Start, a health services program, saw a 10 percent drop. Combined, the two programs accounted for a 39 percent reduction.
While she has promoted similar issues for years, Murray will be in prime position to try shepherd the president’s plans through Congress as the new top-ranked Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. . .
A study released in May by the National Institute For Early Education Research ranked Washington state “far below average” in access to preschool, 32nd among states for enrolling 8 percent of 4-year-olds and 20th among states for enrolling 1 percent of 3-year-olds. But Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute For Early Education Research, said preschool education has become a bipartisan issue in many states, with Republicans often leading the call for more spending. He said that how much the new Congress will spend on preschool could depend on the level of lobbying that Republicans on Capitol Hill receive from state and local leaders in their own party. “I do think they want more at the state level,” Barnett said.
To me, there is no doubt that an early childhood education provides students with a solid foundation for the rest of their educational career and into adulthood. There is no greater frustration for me and my fellow educators than to see young children pass through those formative years with no access to early childhood education. The first five years of a child's life are crucial with 90 percent of brain development occurring. What they learn and experience during those first five years will build the foundation of their emotional, social, and educational success for the rest of their lives. We should be doing everything we can to ensure that all children have access to a high-quality pre-k education to build that solid foundation. That's why I support Pre-K for PA.
Universal preschool isn't a new proposal for Obama — he's has been talking about it since 2013 (related debates over universal child care in America also go back decades). Pre-K has become a rallying cry for liberals from Seattle to New York who believe that investing in young children from poor families may be the best way to narrow inequality as they grow up (it's also a good way to make it easier for their parents to work in the present). Beyond inequality, though, there are a lot of arguments for backing universal Pre-K, many of which aren't particularly lefty. Early childhood education, for starters, is one of the most efficient places we can investment public money, with broad implications for the costs of social services that have seemingly little to do with school. If you don't want to spend a lot on incarceration or welfare or Medicaid, you should spend money on preschool.