Early Education in the News
"Everyone wants their children to have a good head start,” said Holyfield. It's a goal that is becoming more and more attainable for three and four-year-olds in our state. Recent studies show that West Virginia is a step above the majority of other states when it comes to providing early childhood education. "The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University has established a set of quality benchmarks for looking at the different states' universal pre-K programs. We are one of six states in the nation that actually meet all 10 of those quality benchmarks,” said Monica DellaMea, executive director of the Office of Early Learning for the West Virginia Department of Education.
Officials from the West Virginia Department of Education said it's been a 15-year journey. "We took 10 years to build the system, and starting in 2012-2013, the state required that legislation required that every four year old who wanted a space, whose family wanted a space for them in the state's universal Pre-K program, would have a free space, and every three year old who had an individualized education plan, would also have a space as well,” said DellaMea. Legislators began by making sure both quality and access were addressed in state policy, which helped to lay the foundation for this program.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is shrinking the projected number of children the city’s preschool program will serve during its trial period, he said Thursday. Before Seattle voters approved a $58 million property-tax levy in 2014 to pay for the program’s first four years, city officials had projected about 280 children would be served in the 2015-2016 school year, then ramp up to about 2,000 children in 2018-2019. Now Murray is projecting the program will reach 1,615 children by its fourth year. That’s because the city will begin paying the program’s preschool providers more money per child, he said.
Officials are having trouble recruiting additional providers to join the program, said City Councilmember Tim Burgess, a leader in the push for city-funded preschool. “This is why we first launched the Seattle Preschool Program as a pilot program that would allow us to make adjustments,” Murray said in a statement Thursday. “The big lesson learned after year one is that we need to make it more attractive for providers to participate in the program, including reducing barriers and enhancing the providers’ financial incentives and the per-child investment,” the mayor added, saying quality instruction is his priority.
Nearly half of child care workers in Illinois are part of families that rely on public assistance, according to a new report that calls for long-overdue action to improve the wages of the people tasked with caring for kids in the earliest years of their lives. Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley on Thursday released the first of what they expect to be a biennial state-by-state analysis assessing the workforce conditions in early childhood education. Despite growing recognition of the importance of early education in kids' development and efforts to improve quality of care, there has been spotty progress in improving the quality of early childhood educators' jobs, the report said.
"Poor employment conditions, not unlike those identified 50 years ago, remain the norm," Marcy Whitebook, director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley, said on a conference call with reporters. In Illinois, child care workers earned a median hourly wage of $10.50 in 2015, up 1 percent from five years before. Forty-six percent of them are in families on some sort of public assistance, including more than a quarter that are on food stamps.
Preschool teachers earned $13.79 an hour, flat from 2010. Kindergarten teachers fare significantly better, earning $23.42 an hour, up 3 percent from 2010 and close to the median elementary-school wage of $26.60. Illinois is in line with much of the nation, where hourly wages for child care workers range from $8.72 in Mississippi to $12.24 in New York. Nearly 36,000 people are in the early-childhood teaching workforce in Illinois.
The state has awarded 578 school districts and charters more than $116 million in grants to boost their prekindergarten programs in the upcoming school year.
Ten Central Texas school districts, including Austin, Round Rock and Leander, received some of the funds. House Bill 4, one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature laws passed last legislative session, promised to make funds available to boost the quality of early education across the state.
Awarded districts will see an extra $734 per prekindergarten student on top of the $3,600 in regular state funding.
To qualify for the grant, school districts had to promise to hire teachers with multiple credentials, improve family engagement and to report in detail academic performance.
It’s past time to boost our investment in early childhood education. Educators who care for our children from birth to third grade have a pivotal role in preparing our children for school, but as a society we’re letting them down. A recent report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor suggests that low wages in the early childcare workforce are undermining the quality of early childhood education. Across the country, teachers are underpaid, but the data from the report highlight what early childhood advocates know to be shockingly true. Pay for the early childcare workforce is shameful.
A childcare worker trying to support a family of three would be earning below the poverty level in 32 states, according to the report. How can that be? How can we tout the value of early education while paying some of our educators little more than a parking garage attendant? The research on the value of high quality early childcare is clear. Children with positive early experiences are more likely to demonstrate long-term success, both socially and academically. This is especially true for economically disadvantaged populations, for whom early learning experiences may be particularly critical. Yet the financial investment needed to support this effort is glaringly absent.
On Monday, June 27, Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed the legislative bill establishing the state budget for fiscal year 2016-17, which begins July 1. “This solid budget makes responsible investments in California and sets aside billions of dollars to prepare for the next recession,” said Brown in a press release. Total state spending is estimated to be $170.9 billion, of which $122.5 will come from the General Fund. . .
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said in a statement, “The budget the governor just signed reflects the Assembly’s top priorities, including lifting families out of poverty, increasing access to early childhood education and making college more accessible for California students. This balanced, on-time budget — which also responsibly grows the state’s Rainy Day Fund — is the result of hundreds of hours of public hearings. That shows the budget process is working and our final product means California is in stronger fiscal shape than we have been for years.”
Toy building blocks aren’t an unusual sight in a preschool classroom. But teachers aren’t typically using them in a physics lesson about force and gravity with their four-year-olds.That’s largely because teachers aren’t comfortable with introducing young children to science, according to a group of educators committed to helping elementary school teachers become better at teaching STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – in the early grades. Last week, representatives from 11 educational institutions from across the country came together to tackle this challenge: promoting active STEM learning in the early education years, from preschool to third grade. That effort starts with finding ways to support classroom teachers and help them get students on the path toward understanding higher-level concepts in the upper grades.
A new national report holds up Washington state’s 31-year-old preschool program for low-income families as one of the best in the country, weathering good economic times and bad without sacrificing quality. It points to recent studies that have shown that the percentage of kids ready for kindergarten after attending Washington’s program exceeds the state average and that the students’ improvement in reading and math persists through fifth grade. . .
But money isn’t the only hurdle. Doubling enrollment in the preschool program will require 640 new classrooms and as many new teachers, according to the report. The state is short on preschool teachers because many are moving to K-12 schools, as those schools hire more staff to provide a full day of kindergarten and reduce class sizes in grades K-3, which also has been required by lawmakers. The state hopes that it can create incentives for more child-care providers to get the training they need to teach in the preschool program.
Pittsburgh needs $20 million annually to meet a goal of enrolling every income-eligible child in high-quality preschool, officials said Tuesday. Mayor Bill Peduto suggested that the city, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Pennsylvania and local foundations and corporations commit to sharing the costs for 10 years.
“I'm 100 percent behind what you're doing here,” Peduto told educators and community leaders during a public forum chaired by City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak of Carrick. “Once you come up with the plan, I will work as the salesman to sell it.” Peduto described preschool education as the “most important issue to reduce crime in Pittsburgh.” He had listed preschool education as one of his main goals while running for office in 2013. In 2014, he empaneled a group to assess the situation.
A new report, out today, provides 186 pages of answers to one of the toughest questions in education:
What does it take to get preschool right?
Parents and politicians alike want to know. States are spending roughly $7 billion this year on early childhood education, despite the fact that there are more cautionary tales — like this one from Tennessee — than success stories.
Today's release from The Learning Policy Institute, "The Road to High-Quality Early Learning: Lessons from the States," helps balance the preschool debate by highlighting a handful of states that appear to be getting pre-K right: Michigan, West Virginia, Washington and North Carolina.
More than 260 preschool and child care centers in L.A. County are losing a key funding source this month, sending teachers, parents and providers scrambling to fill the gap.
The loss of funds is not a surprise. It's the result of an expiring contract between the non-profit Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) -- which funds the programs -- and the group First 5 L.A., which allocates money from California's Prop 10 tobacco tax.
The preschools and child care centers had been receiving funds from the contract for more than a decade. Now there's uncertainty about whether some will stay open.
"It becomes an economic impact," said Celia Ayala, CEO of LAUP. "Not only for the future of the children, but for the future of many people who work in early care and education."
Two top Indiana Democrats on the ballot this November released a plan Thursday for developing a state-funded preschool program that would be available to all Indiana children regardless of family income.
Former House Speaker John Gregg, who is running for governor, and state schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz said their joint proposal would direct $150 million to a universal pre-K program that would be paid for with existing money. Funding for the program would come from reprioritizing some state spending and rededicating money budgeted for other programs that goes unspent.
Perhaps Plato got it right. Twenty-four centuries ago the Greek philosopher declared that, “The beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of the young...”
Educators and leadership within the Cape Cod Collaborative and the Dennis-Yarmouth and Monomoy Regional School Districts couldn’t agree more. The regional school districts, with the Cape Cod Collaborative, have partnered with private preschools to improve access to quality preschool education for all three- and four-year-olds across Chatham, Dennis, Harwich, and Yarmouth.
“Access to quality, early education is critical to a child’s success,” says Jan Rotella, Cape Cod Collaborative Grant Manager. Rotella cites a multi-year study of New Jersey’s Abbott Preschool Program, which shows the significant, positive impact that preschool education programs have on a child’s academic skills in language arts and literacy, mathematics, and science.
Today, not all Cape Cod children have the opportunity to attend quality preschool programs. “Cape-wide, we have an estimated 35 percent of children entering kindergarten with no preschool experience,” says Dr. Christopher Martes, head of the Boston education advocacy group Strategies for Children. “This represents a glaring need for improved access to quality preschool programs.”
Before last week, Missouri was the only state in the nation that prohibited quality rating systems for preschools. However, Gov. Jay Nixon signed a law Wednesday that allows early childhood education centers to opt into a voluntary quality rating system.
When the Abbeville v. South Carolina case proceedings began in 1993, there were a number of grievances that plaintiff districts aired: facilities, transportation, teacher recruitment, student achievement. Nowhere on that original list was early childhood education.
But when a trial court gave its ruling in 2006, it said that areas like facilities and achievement had adequate funding structures, but called out “the State’s failure to fund early childhood intervention programs.”
In response, the General Assembly created and has given funding to the South Carolina Child Development Program since its pilot legislation in 2006. Still, some are worried that pre-K children in rural areas, including the Pee Dee, are not given great opportunities to access child care.
When the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) recently released its annual summary of state-funded pre-K programs, they found only modest gains in pre-K access, quality, and funding for three- and four-year-olds across the country. While average state spending per child enrolled in pre-K increased by $287 in 2015 to a national average of $4,489 per child, this funding level still represents a decrease from 2002-2004 levels.
This lack of state investment in pre-K is a major reason why so few three- and four-year-olds are able to access these programs. NIEER’s report found that only 29 percent of four-year-olds and five percent of three-year-olds are currently enrolled in state pre-K programs. Steve Barnett, NIEER’s Director, pointed out that if this slow rate of growth in pre-K access continues “it will be another 50 years before states can reach all low-income children at age four.”
Stagnant state funding of pre-K coupled with strong evidence of the benefits derived from pre-K programs has led an increasing number of cities across the country to generate local revenue to fund early education programs, including pre-K. A new financing toolkit created by the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation and North Carolina Budget and Tax Center is making it easier for cities to do just that.
Dino-dances, stomach agriculture debates, and other adorable activities resounded across the city that morning, testifying to the fact that Washington, D.C. sends nearly all of its children to pre-K. Spurred by a landmark 2008 law, the District enrolls 85 percent or more of its four-year-olds (depending on who’s counting) and an even more remarkable 60-plus percent of three-year-olds. “The city has committed to providing a high-quality seat [to every pre-K child,]” said Travis Wright, who leads early learning programs for District of Columbia Public Schools. “That’s not something every child in the United States has.”
The National Institute of Early Education Research, which tracks enrollment nationally but uses a different methodology than the District, said 86 percent of Washington, D.C.’s four-year-olds and 64 percent of three-year-olds were enrolled in publicly-funded programs in 2015. By contrast, Vermont, which leads all states in NIEER’s early-education enrollment analysis, had 84 percent of four-year-olds and 26 percent of three-year-olds in programs that year.
The District’s high numbers reflect a surge over over the last decade. Just 61 percent of four-year-olds, and 28 percent of three-year-olds, were enrolled in 2004, according to NIEER. In all, more than 12,500 children out of an estimated 16,400 were enrolled in public preschool, according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. An additional 1,221 children were in full-day subsidized daycare, according to the state superintendent’s office. Early childhood educators and advocates attribute the city’s high enrollment to its commitment to provide sufficient support — preschoolers are funded using the same formula that funds older students, teachers are paid on the same salary schedule as teachers in higher grades, and city leaders have refused to cut support even in lean budget years.
Mississippi, which has made early literacy an educational focal point, has good news to report on test scores for its kindergartners.
The children who started kindergarten in fall 2015 performed better on a test of early literacy compared to the previous year's kindergarten class. The children who were kindergarten students in fall 2014 were the first ones to take the state's new STAR Early Literacy Exam. The test is administered twice to kindergarten students, and is intended to give teachers an idea of what children know once they start school.
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act (H.R. 5170), bipartisan legislation that would expand effective social interventions, like early learning programs.
Sponsored by Representatives Todd Young (R-IN) and John Delaney (D-MD), this legislation would allow private and philanthropic investors to enter into contracts with the government to fund programs that serve a public good while also saving the government money. The outcomes of these programs are rigorously evaluated to assess if predetermined goals are met. These goals are intended to save state and federal tax dollars by avoiding more costly interventions in the future.
“All children are born ready to learn, yet far too many children in the U.S. currently do not have access to the early learning opportunities needed to prepare them to succeed in school and life,” said Mark Shriver, president of Save the Children Action Network (SCAN). “This bill is crucial in helping pay for critical early learning programs, like pre-K – something every child deserves.”
A portion of the savings would be used to repay investors with a modest return. If the outcomes are not met, no taxpayer money is spent.
Preschool hasn't always been front and center when it comes to education spending. But Delaware is gaining ground, Gov. Jack Markell said Wednesday in visiting a Georgetown preschool center that's been helped by a sought-after federal grant.