Early Education in the News
Despite a documented dearth of high-quality preschool programs for low-income Columbus children, a $5 million city program to pay for 600 new pre-kindergarten spots is on track to create just 245.
A 2012 study found a desperate need for preschools on the Hilltop, for example, but a preschool director there said she didn’t bother to apply for the city grants because the neighborhood she serves is too poor to qualify.
That’s because the city’s program is aimed at parents facing what some call “the cliff,” where working parents earn too much money to qualify for programs such as Head Start but not enough to pay for preschool, said Matt Smydo, an education policy specialist for Mayor Michael B. Coleman.
A last-minute push by Columbus City Schools to find more classroom space allowed Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman to announce today that at least 350 new preschool slots would be created under the first round of his new Early Start Columbus school-readiness program.
The program marked a milestone for the city because for the first time it will provide grants for preschool, focuses on providing high-quality preschool to 4-year-olds and hopefully close an alarming gap in kindergarten readiness and stem the potential for the kids to get held back in the third grade. Currently, the federal and state governments, and school districts, provide most funding.
Detroit Public Schools announced Monday that it will continue the expansion of its early childhood educational offerings with the planned addition of seats to both its Great Start Readiness and Title I Pre-K programs.
The district plans to add more than 540 seats in 34 new classrooms throughout the district for the 2014-15 school year.
In recent years, magazine articles and mommy-blogs have decried that increasingly academic preschool classrooms cater to little girls, arguing their faster development makes them better suited to those new rigors. But one brain scientist said that's a myth.
“No matter what measure of brain structure or function we look at, what we find is that there is much, much more overlap between boys and girls than difference,” said Lise Eliot, professor of Neuroscience at the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University.
The state has backed away from its planned July start date for a new mandatory quality rating system for early childhood education and officials now say they are aiming for a November launch.
A child’s early years are critical learning years, so it is important for parents to choose childcare and early childhood education programs with care.
During the recent National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Week of the Young Child, the NAEYC offered the following guidelines for choosing a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment for children.
West Virginia is serving as a model for other states when it comes to preschool programs.
According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), the Mountain State is ranked #6 nationally for pre-kindergarten enrollments among four-year-olds and #8 nationally for enrollments among three-year-olds.
“We see states that aren’t doing this and it’s great for West Virginia to be successful,” said Christine Campbell, president of the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers.
Rent, food costs and teacher salaries have all been increasing in local preschools, according to directors. But state funding for those programs? Not so much.
Administrators of state-funded preschool programs said they've seen flat funding for several years.
According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, Pennsylvania's total preschool funding dropped by about $14.5 million between 2012 and 2013. NIEER's numbers, released last month in "The State of Preschool 2013" report, were adjusted for inflation.
Twelve urban and six rural counties selected as finalists for an Indiana preschool pilot program have until the end of the month to make their cases, the state announced Wednesday. . . . The pilot program created by the General Assembly this year provides preschool funding for low-income 4-year-olds in five counties. Families earning up to 127 percent of the federal poverty level — a little less than $30,000 for a family of four — would qualify.
To narrow the field to the five pilot counties, FSSA said counties have until June 30 to submit statements on their ability to help meet a financial match, participation of current and new providers, community and family engagement, and their readiness to launch the program in January.
In a study published last month in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Ms. Jeon and her co-authors found that behavioral problems were more common among 3-year-olds whose teachers reported depressed mood than among preschoolers whose teachers were not depressed. Such behavioral problems include inattentiveness, aggressiveness, emotional reactivity and anxious or depressive symptoms.
Arizona is near the bottom of states for enrollment in -- and funding of -- early childhood education, according to the latest "State of Preschool" report for 2013 from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. Professor Steven Barnett, who directs NIEER, said Arizona ranks 38th in enrollment and 40th in funding pre-kindergarten programs, out of 40 states and the District of Columbia that have early-education programs. The Grand Canyon State's situation seems to be getting worse, he said. "Arizona actually has very low funding and meets relatively few of the benchmarks for quality standards," Barnett said. "It's actually fallen from where it was in the prior year."
In the March issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the Community Preventive Services Task Force reviews the literature on full-day kindergarten. After considering the evidence, the Task Force ultimately recommends all-day classes as an effective tool for promoting the health of low-income and minority students. Although many studies of full-day kindergarten look at non-academic outcomes over the long-term, measuring data on criminal activity, savings rates, and more, it’s rare to see an analysis focus so directly on health effects. This approach is important not just because our discussions of early childhood education too often focus on the short term, but also because there are good reasons for being much more cognizant of the health effects of our policy choices.
From opening “pop-up” preschools in Cicero to building new partnerships with existing service agencies, teams of parents, educators and health care providers are developing locally-based projects to improve access to early childhood education in the communities that most need it.
With the help of some Race to the Top Early Childhood federal grant money, the teams will begin testing their strategies this fall – and fine-tuning the projects as data comes in about enrollment. All of this, advocates say, will help the state analyze what works best in building local community systems around early childhood education.
“This can help us figure out which of the strategies we’d been thinking about might be the most useful in the end,” explains Theresa Hawley, director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, which is overseeing the initiative. “The best way for us to look at this problem is to zero in on the local level.”
As legislators prepare for a debate on the state budget, a provision calling for a pay hike for early childhood educators sought by early education leaders is back on the table for debate, according to state Sen. James T. Welch, D-West Springfield.
A Senate amendment calls for the appropriation of $9.5 million that would give pre-kindergarten teachers a salary hike of approximately 5 percent. The average salary is now about $30,000.
What if every Toronto school was a learning centre for the entire family? Before- and after-school programs with hot lunches and snacks available for students. Underutilized space devoted to nursery schools — a place for parents and toddlers to relax, play and receive expert support from public health nurses and early childhood educators. There would be flexible child care for those who want it and what a prefect location for ESL or other adult education classes.
“Preschool has never been more popular,” Kirsten Weir writes in the May issue of Monitor on Psychology, pointing to President Obama’s Preschool for All initiative and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to expand preschool access in the city.
There's not a lot that shocks me anymore. But I didn't get very deep into the 61-page report released Friday by the panel President Obama created in February to find solutions to the many problems that afflict black and Hispanic boys before I found something that left me dumbfounded.
In a section titled "Keeping Young Children in School and on Track," the authors of "My Brother's Keeper Task Force Report to the President," urged that something be done to reduce the number of black kids who are suspended or expelled from preschool.
That's right, preschool.
The 20-year-long study found that a group of growth-stunted children in Kingston, Jamaica, who were exposed to positive parental intervention experienced 25 percent more in average earnings when compared to a control group. Paul Gertler, who led the research, said the intervention also doubled as a long-term poverty-reduction program, improving the cognitive skills that would help the children in the future.
Art Rolnick said Tuesday that investing in early childhood education is the best investment a community can make, which is one of the reasons he sees Red Wing joining the cause with Every Hand Joined as an important step in the right direction. After looking at the data from the HighScope Perry Preschool Study years ago, Rolnick said it became clear that investing in early childhood education yielded high returns – they projected returns close to 18 percent – with savings in areas such as reduction in crime, fewer children in need of special education, and a more highly qualified workforce.