Early Education in the News
Lawmakers and education leaders are setting their sights on new funding and policies for early childhood education as they prepare for the 2016 legislative session.
Adding to two bills that propose expanding full-day kindergarten, the Utah Legislature is considering a proposal for funding to extend more preschool options to disadvantaged students.
From pre-kindergarten through graduate school, the education system in the United States faces tough competition from the rest of the world, a new study found.
The study made public Tuesday by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows other nations are catching up and in many cases have surpassed the United States at many levels, from pre-kindergarten enrollment to the percentage of adults with advanced degrees.
OECD's annual "Education at a Glance" report finds, for instance, that 41% of 3-year-olds in the U.S. are enrolled in pre-kindergarten. Among all OECD countries, the average is 72%.
For 4-year-olds in the United State, the number rises to 66%, but still falls below the OECD average of 88%.
With only 66 percent of American 4-year-olds currently enrolled in early-childhood education, the United States falls well behind the average for developed countries at a time of an increasing global focus on early learning.In 2013, an average of 88 percent of 4-year-olds over all the countries surveyed were enrolled, compared with 72 percent in 2005.
"There is increasing awareness of the key role that early childhood-education plays in the cognitive and emotional development of the young," the report states. "As a result, ensuring the quality of early- childhood education and care has become a policy priority in many countries."
While enrollment figures for American 3- and 4-year-olds didn't change much from 2005 to 2013, the OECD averages went up significantly.
The report also found that 15-year-old students who had at least one year of preprimary education did better on an OECD international assessment test than those who did not.
Universal preschool is widely touted as a surefire way to boost kids' academic achievement. But while it isn't likely to be affordable for -- or even desired by -- all families, it shouldn't be underestimated as a potent educational support for low-income children.
Earlier this year, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that poverty adversely affects structural brain development in children. According to the authors, a national sample of MRI scans of children from families with limited financial resources revealed systematic structural differences in the frontal lobe, temporal lobe and hippocampus.
These differences may explain as much as 20 percent of low-income children's achievement deficits, according to the authors. They concluded that households below 150 percent of the federal poverty level should be targeted for additional educational resources.
Today, fewer than half of North Carolina’s children age 4 and younger are enrolled in a regulated child-care facility — either at a formal child-care center or in a regulated family child-care home — the Journal’s Arika Herrron reported recently, citing records from the N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education.
Only about 1,300 of Forsyth County’s almost 4,000 4-year-olds are in pre-K programs through Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools or in Head Start or N.C. Pre-K, publicly funded programs that serve low-income families. Another 200 to 300 are enrolled in licensed home care or private centers, according to state records.
That’s of concern. But what’s even more concerning is that, as of last month, there’s a waiting list, 500 or 600 deep in Forsyth County alone, of parents who want their children to be in Head Start or N.C. Pre-K, and it can’t go unsaid that the reason they’re not enrolled is the cuts to these programs enacted by the state legislature.
At Aspire Monarch Academy, a charter elementary school on 101st Avenue, 90 percent of kindergartners didn’t have a preschool experience. Parents cite cost and convenience as significant impediments. The nearest Head Start, offering free federally funded preschool for low-income families, is 4 miles away.
Across the state, 40 percent of low-income families don’t have access to quality preschool, Kong said. Such experiences are critical to help children learn the building blocks of reading and math, while also developing other skills needed to be successful in schools, including the ability to pay attention, manage emotions and follow instructions, she added. Yet many families can’t afford preschool or can’t get to one that is free or low cost.
There was no room at Aspire’s K-5 school for the early learners, and finding a new space — given the high and rising rents in Oakland — was not an option, said Elise Darwish, chief academic officer at Aspire’s system of 38 schools.
Many preschoolers in daycare may need more outdoor time to help increase their odds of getting enough physical activity, a small U.S. study suggests.
Pediatricians recommend that young children get at least an hour a day of physical activity to help build motor skills, coordination and strong muscles and bones, as well as to reduce the potential for obesity later in life. Playground time is also key for developing social skills, like taking turns and conflict resolution.
But fewer than three in 10 children in full-time daycare got an hour outside for recess each day, the study found.
Child care featured prominently in the recent federal election. A cornerstone of the Liberal platform was the promise to replace the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) with a new Canada Child Benefit, an income-tested benefit that promises to raise 315,000 Canadian children out of poverty.
While universal benefits have been shown to have the greatest ability to reach marginalized populations, the proposed child benefit is a good move that will mean more support for lower income households with children. The new Canada Child Benefit provides up to $533 per child per month and most families except those making over $200,000 will receive an increased benefit as a result of this new plan. This policy signals the new government's willingness to increase support to specific populations in greatest need.
The new Canada Child Benefit will help many families to access high quality child care programs that are important to child health, and are unaffordable to many Canadians. High quality child care is expensive in Canada; according to the OECD Family Database child care costs are now almost 40 percent of an average Canadian worker's salary. The cost of toddler care in the city of Toronto is $1,324 per month and ranges from $800 to $1,000 per month in most other Canadian cities. These high costs can make it difficult for families to maintain employment and ensure that their children have the best education and care possible.
The push for expanded preschool funding didn't end in June when the Minnesota Legislature wrapped up a special session by agreeing on a $79 million spending boost. For Gov. Mark Dayton, who says giving families widely expanded access to preschool is a top priority of his final years in office, that compromise was only the beginning. Since then, he and his deputies have made it a point to visit preschool programs whenever they can. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith's schedules alone show they have visited schools four dozen times this year.
The entire Legislature is up for election in 2016, and members will be eager to campaign on their accomplishments. But Dayton insists lawmakers address his priority of widely expanded preschool funding if they want his support for other legislation. "I'll make it a requirement for getting my support for certain things that legislators want, like tax cuts," the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party governor said as the school year began in September. "But there's no way I am going to support giving money back when there's money that's badly needed for these kind of purposes."
The 18 civic and education leaders, all with ties to Kansas City’s Early Learning Commission, came for a long day of learning how Denver pulled off universal preschool.
Specifically, they coveted the strategies that have delivered $77 million from Denver taxpayers since 2007 — a pot of money the Denver Preschool Program has used to put $66 million into tuition and $9.7 million into improving public and private preschools, with more than 36,000 4-year-olds served so far.
And Denver was eager to receive the Kansas City delegation. Education leaders here would love new partners in the push for universal prekindergarten. They want to see Kansas City winning the kind of tax that raises the money that makes a good preschool possible for every 4-year-old, poor or not.
“It should go out into other cities,” said Jennifer Landrum, head of the Denver Preschool Program, “so that other cities can value children and do the same for theirs.”
If one wants to understand Connecticut’s budget woes, one need to look no further than its universal preschool strategy. And in reviewing the governor’s and legislators’ budget deficit mitigation plans, it was disappointing to see that they opted to further erode the state's early care system and industry, rather than make smarter choices that preserve both.
The state pays a Head Start provider $0 and a school readiness provider $8,924 to educate a preschool child year round in a NAEYC accredited setting with bachelor degreed teachers.The state pays a Care-4-kids provider $9,482 for year round care in a public or private NAEYC accredited setting with some bachelor degreed teachers. The state pays the public schools an average of $10,285+, the magnet schools $13,054+ and a charter school $11,000 for 180 days at no cost to parents regardless of their ability to pay. A school district like New Haven spends $17,000 per child. Yet when faced with the choice of where to find savings and efficiencies, the governor proposes eliminating a million dollars in school readiness funds which represents a much needed and much fought for increase to childcare businesses.
For parents having trouble deciding whether their 5-year-old is ready for kindergarten, a bill under review in the state House Education Committee would make the decision easier for them.
House Bill 4987, introduced in mid-October by retired school teacher Rep. Charles Brunner, D-Bay City, calls for full-day, mandatory kindergarten enrollment for 5-year-olds.
Michigan law now makes school compulsory at age 6. A child who turns age 5 between Jan. 1 and Sept. 1 has the option to attend kindergarten, but enrollment is not mandatory in Michigan. Parents whose children turn 5 after Sept. 1 can seek a waiver to enroll their child in kindergarten.
Kindergarten is optional in 34 states and mandatory in 16 and the District of Columbia.
Sixty-six percent of American 4-year-olds are enrolled in early childhood education, placing the United States well below average compared to other developed countries at a time of increasing focus on early learning, according to a report released Tuesday.
As U.S. presidential candidates weigh the costs and benefits of early childhood education on the campaign trail, the report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development points to a growing global recognition of its worth, the report's authors said. While enrollment figures for American 3- and 4-year-olds didn't change much from 2005 to 2013, the OECD averages went up significantly. In 2013, an average of 88 percent of 4-year-olds in the countries surveyed were enrolled, compared with 72 percent in 2005. For 3-year-olds, the average enrollment went from 52 percent in 2005 to 74 percent in 2013. In the U.S., 41 percent of 3-year-olds were enrolled in 2013, compared to 39 percent in 2005.
"There is increasing awareness of the key role that early childhood education plays in the cognitive and emotional development of the young," the report said. "As a result, ensuring the quality of early childhood education and care has become a policy priority in many countries."
If you missed it over the weekend, PNC Bank Regional President Jim Hansen penned an excellent op-ed highlighting the importance of investing in early learning. Hansen writes in the Raleigh News & Observer about a recent poll that finds voters of all parties believe early childhood education should be a top national priority: - See more at: http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2015/11/24/something-to-be-thankful-for-h...
One answer to reducing Cincinnati’s childhood poverty rate can be found near the Rocky Mountains. Denver has universal preschool for 4-year-olds and as Local 12 News continues to investigate Childhood Poverty: Cincinnati’s Crisis, Jeff Hirsh went to Denver to see why that city was a model for what may happen in Cincinnati.
Denver, or rather anyone who buys anything in Denver, helps pay for preschool for 4-year-olds. The subsidy, from a sales tax, does not cover 100 percent of tuition which averages about $900 per month. But it can be enough to make the difference. “Our highest tuition credit is about $650, which really helps a low-income family,” said Jennifer Landrum, Director of the Denver Pre-School Program (DPP). The majority of children in that program are from either low or moderate income families, but not all. “Denver preschool program has a very unique model on how we distribute our tuition dollars,” Landrum explained. DPP dollars are available to any family, regardless of income, and can be used in any approved preschool, public, private or religious. The subsidy is on a sliding scale. The more people need, the more they get. And because all of the 250 participating schools are evaluated and rated, there’s even more money if people go to a better school.
This is the first in a six-part series that will examine how New Jersey delivers preschool education, as well as the political and financial issues supporters face as they push to bring the benefits of pre-K to many more children.
Universal preschool is near the top of the education agenda these days. President Barack Obama is proposing universal pre-K for low-income children; New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio has implemented it citywide; and New Jersey children’s advocates are calling for a major expansion of the state’s free preschools in poor communities.
Although most New Jerseyans may not realize it, the Garden State is often held out as a national model for pre-K education and what it can accomplish. While the many studies that have tracked the benefits of preschool education are sometimes at odds with one another, research shows that the pre-K provided by the state’s Department of Education to 35 low-income districts has had certain and lasting effects
The push for expanded preschool funding didn't end in June when the Minnesota Legislature wrapped up a special session by agreeing on a $79 million spending boost.
For Gov. Mark Dayton, who says giving families widely expanded access to preschool is a top priority of his final years in office, that compromise was only the beginning.
Since then, he and his deputies have made it a point to visit preschool programs whenever they can. Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith's schedules alone show they have visited schools four dozen times this year.
The entire Legislature is up for election in 2016, and members will be eager to campaign on their accomplishments. But Dayton insists lawmakers address his priority of widely expanded preschool funding if they want his support for other legislation.
The role of early childhood education became a source of debate when researchers at Vanderbilt University questioned the long-term impact of Tennessee's publicly funded pre-kindergarten program in September.
A different report released Wednesday by the Southern Regional Education Board contrasts Vanderbilt's findings, arguing the importance of early childhood education — saying it needs to be a funding priority for states.
"Our understanding about early childhood development has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years," said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, chairman of the SREB Early Childhood Commission, in a written statement. "Now it's time to put what we've learned into practice so that our young children get the best possible start."
The Southern Regional Education Board Commission spent portions of 2014 and 2015 with national experts studying early childhood issues and children's brain development. It concludes that investments during a child's critical early education years can increase the likelihood of high school graduation, college attainment and workforce readiness.
For many children, kindergarten is an exciting time that marks the beginning of their path to educational success. But too many begin school with deficits – in language, social and pre-math skills – that often persist throughout their educational careers. A relatively new approach to improving long-term educational outcomes, called "preschool to third grade," or P-3, focuses on the youngest students. The goal of this approach is to ensure that children enter kindergarten with the skills they need to learn there and to create learning environments from pre-K through third grade that strengthen these skills and support learning. Research has shown that third-grade skill levels are important predictors of later academic and workforce success.
Some of these initiatives are more comprehensive than others. However, most emphasize greater access to high-quality pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds; support for the transition from pre-K to kindergarten; alignment of curriculum, standards and assessment from pre-K to grade three; training for pre-K to third-grade teachers that focuses on child development and child-centered learning approaches; instructional practices that support an individual child's learning and social and emotional development; parent engagement in learning; and use of data for quality improvement and accountability.
An Ohio community is tackling efforts to expand early-childhood learning from the bottom up. Hundreds of people, along with some local and elected leaders, were on hand Thursday night at a Cincinnati church to announce the People's Platform for Universal Preschool. Troy Jackson, executive director of the AMOS Project, a coalition of congregations, said the platform elevates the voices of parents, educators and preschool providers who see the need for high-quality early learning. He said it's also important for the community as a whole. "Just being ready to learn, being ready to be successful in life - a lot of those skill sets are being developed before the age of 5, when they get into a kindergarten classroom," he said. "So, we believe with two years of excellent preschool education, it will make a huge difference in the lives of children in our community."