Early Education in the News
The increased spending in early-childhood education comes after several years when money was shifted away from such programs, said W. Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. NIEER's latest preschool report covers the 2011-12 school year, and notes that state funding had fallen by $400 per child compared with the previous year, bringing funding down to an average of $3,841 per child despite stagnant enrollment. In 2011-12, about 1.3 million children were enrolled in state-funded preschool, according to NIEER.
Preschool is having its moment, as a favored cause for politicians and interest groups who ordinarily have trouble agreeing on the time of day. President Obama devoted part of his State of the Union address to it, while the deeply red states of Oklahoma and Georgia are being hailed as national models of preschool access and quality, with other states and cities also forging ahead on their own.
Children who enter kindergarten with a history of exposure to science- and math-related words and experiences are much more likely to succeed throughout their entire academic careers. Children who are supported in asking questions, making observations, testing their ideas, and articulating their experiences are children who are developing the thinking skills that are so important in school and life.
Mayor Julian Castro called on the federal government Monday to expand access for preschool funding to local entities and school districts “because some of us are locked in state governments that don't fully understand the value of early childhood education.”
Castro was the keynote speaker at an early childhood education conference hosted by the Education Writers Association at Tulane University. He discussed the city's Pre-K 4 SA program before about 40 education reporters. A longitudinal study conducted by the National Institute for Early Education Research will measure Pre-K 4 SA participants' achievement through the third grade to ensure accountability, he said. Castro traced enrollment challenges in the program's first year to a memorandum of understanding with school districts that outlined a process that he called “not ideal” but has since changed.
Close to 3,000 athletes will be competing in 15 different sporting events at the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but there is one thing virtually all of us have in common: We didn’t make it here overnight. . . .I know my success has been driven by my ability to focus and maintain self-control, to be patient but persistent in the effort to develop new skills, and to listen and respond effectively to the counsel of my coaches.
High quality preschool experiences can develop these abilities as well
As part of the city of Seattle’s discussions about preschool, Seattle City Councilman Tim Burgess has organized a hearing next week where two researchers will discuss their recent studies on the value of preschool. One of those studies focuses on the program in Boston Public Schools, which Burgess and others see as possible model for Seattle. To date, Boston’s program has seen some of the best success in preparing students for school, the researchers say.
Awareness of early education issues is as high as it’s ever been. President Obama is only one prominent member in an eclectic coalition of early education advocates. Business leaders, law enforcement, retired military leaders, charitable foundations, and Nobel-winning economists have made novel new arguments for early education investments. Lawmakers in states red, blue, and purple have reignited interest in existing programs and sometimes pushed for new investments. But have we actually expanded preschool to more kids? Not really. Have we made progress at closing achievement gaps between young students from different socioeconomic backgrounds? No. Have we sustained funding commitments after the one-time stimulus boost in 2009? Far from it.
“Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education,” Obama said. The House speaker, John Boehner, who sat stonily through most of Obama’s speech, applauded that line. Congress also unexpectedly increased financing this year for early education. . . . Aside from apple pie, preschool may also be the only issue on which voters agree. A poll last year found that 60 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats support expansion of prekindergarten. Republican-led states like Oklahoma have been leaders in early education for a simple reason: It works.
In the last 48 hours, two big names in Illinois politics — one the governor, the other the president of the United States — sang from the same hymnal. Invest in early childhood education, they said. And invest big. . . .The bottom line? Pre-K produces substantial long-term gains, particularly when programs are properly designed, even if there are some declines in effect right after children enter elementary school, says W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University.
[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.
“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.”
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.