Early Education in the News
The state's Board of Public Education will hold a hearing this week on adopting preschool standards. Governor Steve Bullock's Early Edge proposal would make available, voluntary, high-quality early childhood education to every Montana four-year-old. On the Governor's website, he states that he will request a $37-million dollar biennial appropriation from the legislature. That money would go to the school districts in non-competitive grants.
Imagine 100 children performing better than their peers and above the national average in every area of school readiness. Now imagine that most of those children are living in low-income, at-risk households. This success is really happening at United Way of Acadiana’s Early Head Start.
How can we provide more at-risk children access to this same opportunity? The answer is clear — to invest the scarce resources we do have in the area of education that yields the largest return on investment: early childhood education that provides universal pre-K for at-risk 4-year-olds.
When San Francisco voters overwhelmingly reauthorized the city's universal preschool program on Tuesday, ensuring an annual $27 million for the next 24 years, other California cities may well have sat up. The Obama administration's call for universal preschool has cities nationwide thinking about how to implement such programs. New York's mayor swept in a pilot project this year that offers preschool to four-year-olds and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia wants to do the same. But a model for funding and implementing a global program for preschool may be just up the I-5.
A $600,000 grant awarded to the University of Texas Health Science Center will help expand health services to potentially thousands of children from birth to age 3 and increase the kinds of screenings available to those participating in an Early Head Start program, officials have announced.
Over the last 20 years or so neuroscientific research has demonstrated the importance of the early years of life to human development. More recently, University of Chicago economist James Heckman has persuasively argued that intervention in the lives of our youngest children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, is one of the wisest investments we can make to ensure America's future prosperity. The Obama White House has proposed that high-quality pre-school be extended to every child in America and has been convening meetings around the country with a broad group of stakeholders dedicated to his early learning agenda.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says government funded universal preschool is a “social movement” and compared it to civil rights and gay marriage during a speech in Los Angeles last month. “At the end of the day for me this is really a social movement,” Duncan said when discussing federally subsidized preschool at the LA Universal Preschool (LAUP) forum on Oct. 21.
Gov. Steve Bullock seeks federal funds to better educate Montana 4-year-olds, and here’s why. Positive early experiences forge the foundations for lifelong learning and behavior. And, to optimize the development of each child, a rich, nurturing environment is required (Diamond & Hopson, 1998; Fischer & Rose, 1998). Study after study validates the “need for” and the “benefits of” early childhood education.
Evaluations of quality pre-kindergarten programs have found that children exposed to high-quality early education were less likely to drop out of school, repeat grades or need special education, compared with similar children who did not have such exposure. (www.nieer.org)
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to use $17 million from private investors to provide half-day early childhood education for 2,618 students sailed through the City Council Wednesday, despite concern about the “very high rate of return” for investors. The Chicago Teachers Union and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Illinois and its City Council allies have likened the arrangement to the much-vilified parking meter deal. That’s because the so-called “social impact bonds” will actually come in the form of a $17 million loan from the Goldman Sachs Social Impact Fund and Northern Trust as senior lenders. Subordinate lenders are the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation. The annual interest rate of 6.3 percent will allow lenders to more than double their $17 million investment over an 18-year period. But, they will be repaid only if students realize "positive academic results."
In the weeks since Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s perplexing decision not to pursue federal funding for preschool for low-income children, a few things have been clarified. Chiefly, it’s clearer how bad this decision was for the state’s low-income children. Projections from state agencies indicate that the $80 million in federal money over four years would have tripled the number of children in the state’s pre-kindergarten pilot program. Locally, those involved in early education count the costs of Pence’s decision in the hundreds of 4-year-olds preapproved for Head Start who won’t be able to enroll this year because the slots are taken, the classrooms full.
As the Obama administration effectively enters its twilight years in the wake of the midterm elections this week, some prominent U.S. Department of Education officials who were originally in charge of its splashy initiatives—including the stimulus-born Race to the Top program, the No Child Left Behind Act waivers, and the multibillion-dollar School Improvement Grant expansion—have left the building. Such churn is typical when a presidential administration is nearly three-quarters over. But losing big names that helped birth major programs—and bringing in new people to replace them—can have an impact on both policy direction and implementation as the department works to ensure its ideas remain rooted at the state and local levels.
"It feels like there is a greater weight and more demands on this team than your typical end of the administration," said Andy Smarick, who served as a deputy assistant secretary in the Education Department toward the end of President George W. Bush's tenure. "They need to make sure they land this plane."
Provost, Michael Otedola College of Primary Education (MOCPED), Noforija, Epe, Professor Olu Akeusola has called on the Federal Government to show more interest and commitments to the smooth operation of early childhood education for all children in the country. According to him, "Looking at ways advanced countries or even growing economies in the world practice early childhood education, it is found out that the Federal Government of Nigeria has shown total neglect in terms of applying their own policy and strategies for the Nigerian child at that level of education,"
He also said most pre-schools annexed to the already existing primary schools are not manned by qualified hands, lack the experience and know-how for capacity building in the classroom, stressing that Nigerian experience in early childhood development is synonymous to total neglect, corruption and ill funded public pre-school. He lamented on the illegal operation of many sub-standard private pre-schools in form of kindergarten, and nursery institutions scattered all over urban, suburban areas and some rural areas in the country.
There is a place where progressives rule, where voters want government to increase support for the poor, where the idea of taxing the rich to do that doesn't come off like class warfare. It's Seattle.
And last night residents there voted to tax themselves to fund a $58 million pilot program providing city-subsidized high-quality childcare to low-income families. What's more, the measure won with 67 percent of the vote. And the main dispute wasn't over whether or not to invest in universal preschool — but which proposal to choose.
On a typical day in the preschool department at Church Street United Methodist, you can find children learning colors, numbers and days of the week. Director Beth Cooper-Libby says that level of care and education is expected today. "The days of the nursery worker on the couch with children in front of a TV set are way gone." Cooper-Libby says more and more parents want to make sure their child is ready to head to kindergarten, an endeavor that starts years before the first day of school. . .
The latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show about 71 percent of all mothers are working, which means there's a lot of mothers out there looking for quality childcare. The high demand and limited space leads to long wait lists; Church Street United Methodist only takes 38 children at a time.
The access and quality gap in Vermont's Child Care System
Most people agree that "choice" is a good thing. But when it comes to choosing a child care provider, many Vermont parents may not feel like they have much choice available to them. And that's something we need to change.
A plan to provide early education to kids in Marion County is getting new life. City County leaders say changes were made from the original proposal Mayor Greg Ballard talked about four months ago. They say the new bi-partisan plan focuses on families who need help the most and expands access to 3-year-olds.
“There are kids who don’t get to go to pre-school, and they come to kindergarten 2 or 3 years behind, and it’s very hard to catch up,” Republican City County Council Member Jeff Miller said. Miller says that’s why he’s passionate about helping all families afford high-quality pre-school programs.
As New York City officials signed up private preschool providers for this fall’s pre-kindergarten expansion, they negotiated reimbursement rates with each program individually. They were tough negotiators who left many private pre-k providers operating beyond their means, without a plan for how to make ends meet.
Programs in vastly different circumstances and neighborhoods are mostly getting a similar rate—around $10,000 per child. School directors told WNYC this rate translates into very different capacity, as some have plenty to spend on extra perks and others are barely scraping by.
Education is supposed to help bridge the gap between the wealthiest people and everyone else. Ask the experts, and they'll count the ways: Preschool can lift children from poverty. Top high schools prepare students for college. A college degree boosts pay over a lifetime. And the U.S. economy would grow faster if more people stayed in school longer.
Plenty of data back them up. But the data also show something else: Wealthier parents have been stepping up education spending so aggressively that they're widening the nation's wealth gap. When the Great Recession struck in late 2007 and squeezed most family budgets, the top 10 percent of earners — with incomes averaging $253,146 — went in a different direction: They doubled down on their kids' futures. . .
Wealthier parents can also afford high-quality day care, which better prepares children for kindergarten, said Steven Barnett, director at the National Institute for Early Education Research.
Hawaii voters rejected the idea of using public funds for private preschool programs, defeating a proposed amendment that pitted early learning advo-cates against the public teachers union. The amendment had proposed lifting the prohibition on public funds being used to support or benefit private educational institutions. It would have given the state the ability to use a combination of preschool classrooms at public schools and state-funded slots in private preschools to eventually serve all of the state's 17,200 4-year-olds with a publicly funded preschool education.
With kindergarten requiring children to be ready for academics sooner than in years past, parents feel increased pressure to find “the right” preschool program that will promote future academic success, preschool admission directors say. Gone are the days when preschool was seen as optional, with some kids starting kindergarten as their first experience in a classroom setting. “Most parents are looking for the school to inspire a passion for learning,” Pan said. This zealous preschool climate is not unique to San Francisco. “It varies city by city,” said Molly Tafoya, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit Early Edge California, a preschool advocacy group. “Anecdotally we hear it’s a difficult process. Private preschool enrollment can be like college enrollment.”
In Orange County, a densely populated area with a high cost of living, the preschool application process can be overwhelming for parents, said Amy Fotheringham, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Private Schools Association, which is hosting a January preschool-t0-12th-grade fair for parents to learn about different options.
If there’s one thing we know about Wall Street, it’s that most Wall Street firms are not in the business of philanthropy. Yet the city is about to enter into a $30 million agreement with several Wall Street lenders to finance an early education program that from all appearances will allow banks to profit off the educational success of children with almost no risk to their own bottom lines. And, once again, the city is about to enter into a complex, long-term financial transition with millions of dollars at stake with almost no debate, little understanding of how the program works and no third party to weigh in on the potential risk and rewards. Even worse, the program looks from some angles to be little more than a mechanism to transfer public dollars to private lenders while using children as collateral.