Early Education in the News
The state’s largest school district plans to offer full-day classes and save thousands of school spaces for more low-income 4-year-olds in new transitional kindergarten classes, which will eventually replace a popular preschool program slated for elimination.
The Los Angeles Unified School District is set Tuesday to approve a budget that includes $14.3 million to expand its transitional kindergarten with new classes designed for children who turn 5 after Dec. 2. The current transitional kindergarten program is geared for children who turn 5 between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2.
Under Los Angeles Unified’s plan, about 2,800 additional transitional kindergarten spaces would be available for 4-year-olds in 117 schools in the fall. In 2016-17, the remaining 173 preschool sites would convert to transitional kindergartens.
This study seeks to broaden the debate by examining the education gaps that exist even before children enter formal schooling in kindergarten, and showing that the gaps extend to noncognitive skills, which are also critical for adulthood outcomes (Heckman 2008; Heckman & Kautz 2012). Regarding the analysis of early education gaps, this paper is modeled on Lee and Burkam’s 2002 monograph Inequality at the Starting Gate: Social Background Differences in Achievement as Children Begin School, which found that cognitive gaps between children of different socioeconomic backgrounds and races and ethnicities were both sizeable and statistically significant at school entry in kindergarten.1 This is important for policymakers because, if unaddressed, there is the potential that gaps persist over time and compound. Such early-in-life inequalities point to the need for substantial interventions to reduce them, including early educational interventions, to ensure that children arrive in kindergarten ready to learn and for compensatory policies to support these children throughout the school years (from kindergarten through 12th grade). Moreover, the social and economic disadvantages that generate these gaps should be addressed directly and eliminated through social and economic policies, not just education policies (Morsy and Rothstein 2015; Putman 2015; Rothstein 2004).
Coane is a member of Mission: Readiness, a group of more than 500 retired generals and admirals concerned about the nation's education system. He was the perfect keynote speaker for the United Way's Early Literacy Initiative luncheon and the core of his message was simple: Add national security to the list of reasons we need to improve education and convince state leaders to create a quality preK program.
How do national security and education relate?...
"Nearly three-quarters of our nation's young adults could walk into a recruiting station in downtown Tampa today and be turned away because they cannot meet the minimum qualifications to serve," said Coane, citing a Department of Defense study. "The primary reasons: They are either too poorly educated, they are unhealthy, they have a criminal record or some combination of all three."
And if we don't have a large pool ready to serve in the military, then we also don't have a large pool ready to meet the needs of businesses...
But you say the state has a voluntary prekindergarten program? Yes, but Coane stressed that if it's not a quality program, you're throwing money down the drain.
Trenam Kemker attorney Robert Buesing, vice chairman of the Hillsborough Early Learning Coalition, noted that although states like Alabama, Mississippi and North Carolina meet all 10 quality standards set by the National Institute for Early Education Research, Florida meets only three of them.
A $50,000 grant will be used to extend a Clemson University program that teaches preschool caregivers methods to assist children with analytical skills and problem solving. The PNC Foundation grant aims to address the “changing needs of an economy that is increasingly based on knowledge and skills,” a foundation representative said...
“A growing body of research recognises that early childhood education and care (ECEC) brings a wide range of benefits,” according to the third edition of the OECD’s Starting Strong: A Quality Toolbox for Early Education and Care. That includes establishing a foundation for lifelong learning, a more level playing field for each child, overall reductions in poverty and inequality, and “better social and economic development for the society at large.”
Still, those benefits, the report continues, hinge on one word: quality.
“Expanding access to services without attention to quality will not deliver good outcomes for children or the long term productivity benefits for society,” according to the report. “Furthermore, research has shown that if quality is low, it can have long-lasting detrimental effects on child development, instead of bringing positive effects.”
That’s usually where the debate breaks down, says Milagros Nores, the assistant director for research at the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.
The best, most effective early-education programs must meet certain standards, including a curriculum, class sizes, and a low teacher-child ratio. At the same time, she said, all children—from poor minorities to better-off white kids—should have equal access to bridge a relatively narrow but widening achievement gap between middle-class and upper-class children.
Brown and lawmakers struck a $115.4 billion budget deal Tuesday, which will offer billions more dollars to public schools throughout the state and increase spending on early education.
The new budget deal, which is expected to be officially approved prior to July 1, includes $409 million more in spending on early education programs, which will grant greater access to preschool classes for nearly 15,000 students.
Jean-Marie Houston, director of early learning support services at the San Mateo County Office of Education, wrote in an email the effort of lawmakers aligns with local efforts to help as many young students as possible attend preschool.
“We are pleased that the legislature and governor have strongly supported investments in early learning by expanding access for families of low-income to quality preschool services,” she said.
Roughly 5,000 more students would be able to attend full-day preschool classes, and more than 10,000 preschoolers would have access to part-time programs, should the budget be finalized, according to a report from Early Edge California, an agency which encourages expanding preschool services.
After some tweaks, Louisiana's Board of Elementary and Secondary Educationlargely approved child care advocates'preschool policy changes Wednesday (June 17). It was a victory for some preschool proprietors, who said the old policy gave local school systems too much power.
That policy tasks lead agencies -- mostly school systems -- with coordinating preschool enrollment for parishes. Daycare directors wanted to be involved in that process.
It gives school systems and other preschool staffers the authority to grade preschool programs. Because systems and other preschools also educate 4-year-olds from low-income families, the policy potentially lets a daycare's competitor be its judge, critics said.
A study, also published in Science and spearheaded by the National Institute for Early Education Research summarized 123 papers written on the issue since 1960 and found that, ““Overall, looking across the entire research literature over four decades… preschool has substantial impacts on cognitive development, on social and emotional development, and on schooling outcomes.”
Cornish isn’t completely out of line; he is basing his claim on a high-profile, long-term study that had plenty of smart, qualified people behind it.
But Cornish’s claim obscures some pretty important facts.
There’s plenty of peer-reviewed and published research that shows there are lasting-benefits for kids who attend quality – and quality is the key word, here – pre-K. Those benefits include higher earnings, fewer interactions with the criminal justice system and better social skills, as well as better academic outcomes.
When Democrats talk up universal pre-K, they often look to an unlikely place: red states. Georgia and Oklahoma both have big, publicly funded, and popular pre-K programs. This means Clinton can argue that pre-K is a bipartisan priority.
"Governors and state legislatures across the country are discovering the value of preschool. And this is bipartisan," Clinton said in New Hampshire. "You know, one of the states with a universal pre-K program in America is Oklahoma, about as red a state as you can get. But they have figured it out, the government and business leaders and families like, that this is a smart investment for them."
The programs in Oklahoma and Georgia were originally created by Democrats: Oklahoma's by a Democratic legislator and Georgia's by then-Democratic Gov. Zell Miller, who later switched parties. They've thrived since in red states with bipartisan support.
But it turns out that what ain’t so easy, even today, is ensuring that every child has access to preschool. Only 40 percent of 4-year-olds nationwide are enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs, a good chunk of which are considered to be low-quality. According to a growing body of research, this contributes to great inequality in academic achievement. And although comprehensive data on the long-term benefits of preschool is hard to come by, experts tend to agree that having a quality early-education experience can have a significant impact on the first chapter of a kid’s life. The payoff appears to be especially strong for disadvantaged children, who might not otherwise have exposure to the stuff emphasized in quality preschools, such as vocabulary and good nutrition.
A combination of factors has made expanding access particularly difficult. The money part is B-I-G: Teaching young children can be pricey, entailing far more than naptime and playing with blocks, and securing the public funding for it is politically fraught. Head Start only serves the most economically disadvantaged of children: Virtually all of them live below the poverty line.
Opinion: The experiences a child has up to this point — at home, in preschool, in child care — shape his trajectory for life. We are creating human capital, and we only get one chance per generation to do it right. There is no rewind button for the first five years.
The district will continue to restructure special education services so more students are going home to their neighborhood school, she said.
In May, GRPS announced plans to include all children with disabilities in pre-kindergarten classrooms side-by-side with peers without disabilities this fall to enhance student learning and development.
The 23 eliminated positions are tied to that change, which would affect 319 GRPS Early Childhood Special Education students enrolled in the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), Michigan's state-funded preschool program for 4-year-olds.
"Our focus on inclusion with special education is research backed and shows that these changes will positively impact student achievement while also presenting a cost savings," Neal said.
Hillary Rodham Clinton put early childhood education at the front of her agenda Monday, pledging that as president she would work to make preschool available and affordable for every American child.
Clinton, who started her career as an advocate for the Children's Defense Fund, has long lobbied for expanding the availability of child care and preschool. At a day-care center here, she outlined proposals, including a substantial boost in federal spending to help cover the cost of schooling for 4-year-olds from low-income families.
In backing expanded preschool, Clinton is advocating a policy that is popular with liberal Democrats even though some experts warn that the benefits have been oversold. President Obama rolled out a similar proposal in 2013, and Clinton said she would build on that plan if voters sent her to the White House.
"It's time we realize once and for all that investing in our children is one of the best investments our country can make," Clinton said, according to a transcript of her remarks released by the campaign. The event was partially closed to reporters. "It's hard enough to pay for any preschool or child care at all, let alone the quality programs that help kids develop and flourish. Funding for these opportunities has not kept up with changing times and rising demand."
Families of about 140 children who applied for child care and pre-kindergarten classes at Nuestros Ninos in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, got a surprise recently when the city told them their 42-year-old neighborhood institution would not be an option for the fall. The news came well after the application deadline.
"I was hoping she would stay here since I was one of the first ones to apply," said Jahayra Jimenez of her daughter Leah.
Executive Director Myriam Cruz said the impact spreads even farther, with families of another 200 infants through toddlers also in limbo because they're served by homecare providers affiliated with her agency. The future of Nuestro Ninos is in question largely because its landlord wants to raise the rent. Officials announced late Monday that the city, who holds the lease, secured the space through January, 2016, while it tries to reach a deal.