Early Education in the News
[Comparing] preschool programs is hard because quality depends not just on factors in the classroom like the curriculum and the teacher’s skill, but also on how those factors interact with sleep, nutrition, parenting and other aspects of domestic life. Yet we know little about such interactions. To understand them, we need a national study (enrolling perhaps 15,000 children) that would collect detailed information about the family and the preschool, beginning at age 3 and continuing through at least second grade.
No longer about bold ambitions, this year’s State of the Union address will focus more on what’s actually achievable. . . .The president also is likely to make a new pitch for two proposals that got little traction after they were first announced in last year’s address to Congress: expanding access to early childhood education and increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to at least $10 an hour.
President Obama is expected to propose an expansion of preschool programs in his State of the Union Address. Most states have bought into the idea and restored funding for the programs. What's less clear is where the long-term funding is going to come from, and whether the quality of these programs are worth the investment.
In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Obama returned to this theme: “Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education. Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old. As a parent as well as a president, I repeat that request tonight.” . . . Critics outside the education community like Michelle Malkin call Obama’s prescription a “federal encroachment into our children’s lives at younger and younger ages.” Yet that argument runs up against a line of experts, including Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, who says that a universal preschool program “is one of the most important education initiatives, maybe since Brown versus Board of Education.”
President Barack Obama says he’s serious about making sure all kids have access to preschool. During his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, Obama said he’s going to renew his push to help states expand their preK programs. “Research shows one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high quality early education,” he said.
NY1 VIDEO: David Nocenti, Executive Director of the Union Settlement Association, one of the city's largest child care providers; Steven Barnett, the Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, an organization that has been tracking the progress of New Jersey's Pre-K program and Ragland George, the Executive Director of DC37's Local 1707 joined Inside City Hall to discuss what it will take to implement universal Pre-K in New York.
A statewide coalition has kicked of a campaign to ensure every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania has the chance to attend a high quality pre-kindergarten program. Pre-K for PA was launched in events across the state Thursday with civic, education, business and military leaders signing on to the effort aimed at boosting pre-K offerings across the commonwealth. Many Pennsylvania families cannot afford high quality pre-K. Fewer than 20 percent of Pennsylvania 3- and 4-year-olds have access to publicly funded, high quality programs, said Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, one of 10 nonprofit organizations involved in the campaign.
On Tuesday, Cuomo proposed that the state set aside $1.5 billion to fund universal prekindergarten statewide. The funding for that plan, which would make New York the fourth state in the nation to have universal prekindergarten, will not be linked to a tax increase and falls short of what New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has targeted for his city.
Jim Engster interviews Steven Barnett, Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research . . .
In 1997, the politicians in Albany promised every child in New York a better opportunity for school success by creating a statewide universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) program. More than 15 years later, fewer than half of the state’s 4-year-olds receive full-day pre-k....Giving New York City the autonomy to raise its own taxes in order to invest in educating its children, as [Mayor] de Blasio has proposed, would ensure real progress toward raising quality and providing a full day, while increasing access.
Casino funds already funneled to state public education should be used to help pay for universal voluntary pre-kindergarten in Maine, the Legislature’s Education Committee voted Thursday....A national study put Maine 14th in the nation for offering 4-year-olds’ access to public pre-K programs, according to a survey of 2011-2012 school year data by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Of the 135,000 children served by California’s subsidized preschool program for low-income families, 95,000 go to half-day programs. One reason might be because the state pays providers $21.22 per day per child for a half day class and $38.34 per day for a full day....[Steve] Barnett, the Rutgers professor, said daylong Pre-K has to be high quality in order to make a difference. “You can’t just increase the length of day and automatically you’ll get the results you want,” he said. “Teachers need to be prepared to use the full day.”
“From a taxpayer’s perspective it makes a lot more sense to fix the problem than spending the rest of the time catching up,” said Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, at the New Jersey university....“A high-quality program has the potential to eliminate almost all of the achievement gap in kindergarten,” Barnett said. “That’s a pretty big deal.”
Is early education a national security concern? A group of retired senior military officials says: Yes. “Without enough skilled men and women available to serve in tomorrow’s armed services, we endanger the future strength of our military,” says a report by Mission: Readiness, an advocacy group representing hundreds of senior retired military leaders. The best way to improve that talent pool? Early education, the report says.
The STEM curriculum becoming popular in high schools and junior high schools isn’t just for big kids anymore. On Thursday, Heritage Museums & Gardens announced plans to open a year-round preschool focusing on science, technology, engineering and math. The goal is to open The Hundred Acre School with 40 students ages 4 and 5 in the fall, said Ellen Spear, president and CEO of Heritage Museums & Gardens. “We are hoping our curriculum will be a model not only for the state but for the nation,” Spear said at a press conference.The Hundred Acre School will be a U.S. first: a STEM preschool housed in a museum with a curriculum aligned with the local public school system and local library, she said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to make universal prekindergarten the centerpiece of his first term, and he’s not alone. A year ago, President Obama made pre-K expansion a major component of his State of the Union address, and mayors and governors across the country—from rising Democratic stars like San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to Republican governors in Michigan and Alabama—have also championed pre-K expansion.
While spending on early childhood education got a federal boost with stimulus funds, those have run out and funding has seen big drops since the recession, according to a new report from the New America Foundation. Funding saw a high of nearly $33 billion from the 2009 stimulus bill, which injected states with an extra $11.2 billion for programs serving kids from age zero to third grade. But that figure fell to a low of $21.5 billion last year....Special education also fared poorly: while it saw a one-time doubling of funding through the stimulus, it stayed flat and then fell last year thanks to sequestration.
A newly published study co-authored by a University of Minnesota labor economist predicts that providing full-time, high-quality preschool to impoverished children under the age of 3 could entirely eliminate the achievement gap....The study, published in the Journal of Human Resources, also found that the impact of very early intervention was less likely to fade as the children aged — even if they did not stay in quality care after age 3.
Across Virginia, about $23 million designated for preschool was left on the table because localities — citing limited resources, lack of classroom space and politics — did not contribute the required matching funds to take full advantage of the program. As a result, more than 6,000 disadvantaged children missed the opportunity to go to school before kindergarten....
The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, which tracks preschool spending, estimates the average per-child cost for a high-quality preschool program in Virginia would be $9,327....“You can see why school districts would balk at $6,000,” said W. Steven Barnett, the institute’s director. “The amount of money that the state is offering is too little to do this, so districts that can’t make up the difference just aren’t going to do it.”
Heckman won a Nobel prize in 2000. He used his speech in Stockholm to underscore the importance of using hard, observable data in making public policy, and he’s continued to gather evidence for the idea he explained to Summers. Focused, personal attention paid to the young children of poor families isn’t some warm, fuzzy notion, he argues. It’s a hard-nosed investment that pays off in lower social welfare costs, decreased crime rates, and increased tax revenue.