Early Education in the News
Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia, which have already won federal grants to bolster their early-learning systems—or have robust early-childhood programs in place—could tap into even more money to improve preschool programs, under a new, $250 million "preschool development" grant competition announced by the Obama administration Wednesday.
And 15 states and Puerto Rico, which are just getting started on their early-learning programs would be able to compete, on a somewhat separate track, for a portion of those funds.
Up to $20 million is up for grabs for Pennsylvania, under a new grant competition announced in Pittsburgh. The funds are to be used for expanding access to early-childhood learning programs. Ensuring all children have access to high-quality pre-K programs, Duncan said, is a critical investment into the future.
After a year's worth of work carefully researching and crafting a policy, the city council and the mayor this spring proposed a pilot preschool program they'd send to the fall ballot. If voters approve it, it'll be paid for by a four-year, $58 million property tax levy, costing average homeowners a little more than $3.50 a month. (Research shows that quality pre-K programs, among many benefits, can increase graduation rates and reduce incarceration rates; they offer generous returns on the public investment.) Starting in the 2015 school year, 280 of Seattle's 3- and 4-year-olds will have access to publicly funded preschool with sliding scale tuition, with free tuition for low-income families. That will ramp up annually until it serves 2,000 preschoolers in the 2018 school year. (There are approximately 12,000 3- and 4-year-olds in the city.) The plan is to expand enrollment even further if all goes well. Mayor Ed Murray's proposal cites an eventual "goal of serving all eligible and interested children within 20 years."
While that limited scale and slow ramp-up is deliberate to keep quality standards high as the program grows, according to city council president Tim Burgess, not everyone's thrilled.
A preschool director and a Rutgers University researcher will be honored by Preschool Advantage at its 11th Annual Turning Leaves Gala.
Preschool Advantage provides tuition for preschool education in Morris County and the surrounding communities for children of families in need.
This year's celebration will honor W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. Barnett is being recognized for his work in the field of economics of early education, including the long-term effects of preschool programs on children's learning and development, according to a news release from Preschool Advantage.
While the United States prides itself on its family values, it is one of only three industrialized nations not offering maternity care. The other two arePapua New Guinea and Oman. In a poll conducted by The National Partnership for Women and Families in 2012, 86 percent of Americans wanted some kind of paid parental leave, including 73 percent of Republican voters. Still, a bill that proposes paid family and sick leave for employees penned by congressional Democrats has not one Republican supporter in Congress.
Earlier this year, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released “the first comprehensive look at civil rights from every public school in the country in nearly 15 years.” As the report put it: “The 2011-2012 release shows that access to preschool programs is not a reality for much of the country. In addition, students of color are suspended more often than white students, and black and Latino students are significantly more likely to have teachers with less experience who aren’t paid as much as their colleagues in other schools.”
Attorney General Eric Holder, remarking on the data, said: “This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well-documented among older students, but actually begin during preschool."
Mississippi's pilot preschool program will provide learning to more than 2,000 students this school year. The Legislature approved $3 million this year to continue with implementation of the first state-sponsored pre-kindergarten program.
Head Start, which costs about $8 billion a year and serves a million children and families nationwide, has been under pressure to improve quality amid reports of fiscal mismanagement and questionable academic outcomes. Many advocates for early childhood education say the new system is necessary to improve the quality of Head Start but it could use some improvements, including more timely notification for grantees. “I would be surprised if there were not some bumps in the road, but overall I think this is a very good thing,” said Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.
On August 12, Bank Street College of Education kicks off the first sessions of a professional development institute for thousands of early childhood educators, in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education. The Institute, titled “Getting Ready for Pre-K,” will prepare teachers, assistant teachers, and paraprofessionals to answer Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call to provide high-quality, full-day pre-Kindergarten services in public schools and Community Based Early Childhood Centers for more than 50,000 children across New York.
In November, Denver voters will decide whether to approve a small sales tax increase, which could have a big impact on the lives of young children. The Denver City Council has approved a ballot measure that would increase the sales tax by .15%, 15 cents for every $100 spent, in order to expand funding for the Denver Preschool Program.
More than 8,000 public preschoolers were suspended at least once, and some multiple times, during the 2011-12 school year, according to the Civil Rights Data Collection conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. During that year, black students represented 18 percent of preschool enrollment and 48 percent of students suspended more than once. Boys represented 54 percent of the preschool population and 82 percent of preschool children suspended multiple times. A child's early education, which includes preschool and elementary school, sets the foundation for future success. And for at-risk children with histories of poverty, abuse or neglect, this foundation reduces their likelihood of dropping out of school, having children as teenagers, or becoming entangled in the criminal justice system. Sadly, the CRDC data further support a rising trend in our nation to discipline young, bright children with a "zero tolerance" policy that is setting them up for failure. "If you have a preschool and you expel the children who need it the most, you're sabotaging your rate of return," according to Walter S. Gilliam, a psychology professor at Yale University and director of the school's Child Study Center.
Can investing in high-quality early learning programs save money for Bucks County taxpayers?
It’s a largely undisputed fact that attending high-quality pre-k sets a child up for success in school and life — particularly children who face academic obstacles due to poverty and other factors beyond their control. A report released last month by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, demonstrates the clear link between socioeconomic factors and a child’s readiness to start kindergarten. Ensuring the right start for these children through quality early learning programs increases their chances of finishing high school, attending college and remaining consistently employed with higher earnings down the road. . .
In fact, the latest State of Preschool Yearbook from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) shows that Pennsylvania dropped to 30th out of 41 states that provide pre-k access for 4-year-olds (down from 28th a year earlier).
Louisiana has one of the nation's highest rates of children living in poverty, impacting numerous factors that affect their well-being.
And despite efforts to make improvements, a national survey shows problems continue to exist.
WalletHub, a national study group that looks at economic and social issues, ranked Louisiana 41st among 50 states and the District of Columbia in its ranking of "2014 Best and Worst States for Underprivileged Children." The state ranks 37th in early foundations and economic well-being, 37th in health and 49th in education.
Word of mouth was the only advertisement needed when the Springdale School District added seats to a prekindergarten program this fall. There will be 980 classroom spots for children ages 3 and 4 this fall, said Darlene Fleeman, Springdale prekindergarten director and principal. Late Thursday morning, there were 41 seats left. Six parents came in to enroll students just before noon, she said. She's applied for an extension that would add 60 more children, Fleeman said. . .
The National Institute for Early Education Research gave Arkansas high marks in its State of Preschool 2013 report. The state scored a 9 out of 10 on quality standards, ranked 12th in state spending and 14th in availability. The report estimated 51 percent of 4-year-old children in Arkansas were enrolled in either state-backed programs run by public and private entities, special education or federal Head Start programs, compared with a national average of 41 percent. Ten states had no program. Arkansas was one of 11 states with a full school day program
Kindergarten has changed so much over the past decade; it is so much more work and so much less play. No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have brought learning standards with higher (and not necessarily developmentally appropriate) expectations of these young children, and the partner of these standards, assessment, plays a huge role in today’s kindergarten classrooms. The validity of using this testing, often administered to 5-year-olds before or at the very beginning of kindergarten, to track learning is questionable at best. Children this age aren’t necessarily “test-ready”: they may hesitate to answer a strange adult’s questions, or prefer to stare out the window, and many don’t understand that giving a complete answer actually matters. Sadly, it does. Once upon a time we had a different vision for what the kindergarten year should be: a time for play and experimentation and the sorting out of self that leads to further learning. How can we create those kinds of learning environments again? Here are 10 ways schools can stop failing our kids in their earliest years, and begin building passionate learners from the start.
Early childhood teachers are receiving an increase in pay from federal and local grants totaling $600,000. The Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children has been awarded four grants to help implement a national project called the Child Care WAGES.
Depression in kids in preschool is likely to continue throughout adolescence. Researchers at the Washington University in St. Louis found in a study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry that tracked 246 children from ages 3-5 and 9-12 that depressed preschoolers were 2.5 times more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms into elementary and middle school.
In the study 51 percent of the children who were originally diagnosed with depression still exhibited symptoms of depression while only 25 percent of the children who were not diagnosed with depression earlier on went on to develop depression in adolescence.
On Tuesday, LAUP (Los Angeles Universal Preschool) hosted the country's first Preschool Nation Summit. Held at the world headquarters of Scholastic Inc. in New York City, the summit featured Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is currently implementing his "Pre-K for All" program, as keynote speaker. . . . The summit examined the short- and long-term benefits of quality early education, successes and challenges of early learning programs around the country, the need to define and improve quality and more.
A total of $7 million in grants received by the Children’s Learning Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) will fund projects to compare the effectiveness of different instructional approaches and learning environments in order to improve the school readiness skills of at-risk preschool children.
Fourteen states in 2012 enacted policies either mandating or strongly recommending that schools hold back students who could not read properly by third grade. Districts in Arizona and Colorado also offered summer school for struggling third-grade readers for the first time this year, then will consider whether to hold back some of them before the new school year begins.