Early Education in the News
Minnesota may be on the verge of closing one of its biggest opportunity gaps, if lawmakers can find a compromise for expanding state-funded preschool. Gov. Mark Dayton and his Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party colleagues proposed spending $343 million in the next two-year budget to provide universal access to preschool. Republicans called that plan too expensive, but some GOP lawmakers back a smaller plan to expand preschool scholarships that needy families can use at programs they choose. Dayton continues to call early-childhood education a top priority of this legislative session and his second term as governor. The goal is universal preschool, but Dayton said he wants to find middle ground with Republicans. . .
Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, said given Minnesota’s commitment to strong public schools, he is surprised the state serves so few preschoolers. “Minnesota really stands out as a state with good government that’s really made no progress at all,” Barnett said.
One of the fundamental values that Idahoans hold dear is that all people, especially our children, deserve a fair chance to achieve the American dream. The trouble is that value is not a reality for too many of our children. Only 54 percent of Idaho children have the reading skills needed to begin learning when they enter kindergarten. This is akin to a road race where half of the runners are lined up at the starting gate and the other half are starting from a mile back. The chances of the half not ready for kindergarten ever catching up with their peers is statistically low and the future for many of them is not very bright. Kids who are not ready to learn are more likely to struggle in math and reading, drop out of school and end up on social services or in the criminal justice system. The probability is increased that they will not go to college and obtain a good family-wage job. It doesn’t have to be this way.
A bill in the Oregon House Committee on Education would lay the foundation for what supporters say is a crucial building block of the state's education strategy: a comprehensive, high-quality Oregon preschool program.
House Bill 3380, which is scheduled for a public hearing at 1 p.m. Friday, seeks $30 million to establish a blueprint for a statewide preschool program in which public and private providers would offer full-day preschool, ensure kindergarten readiness, hire lead teachers who have at least a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, and pay lead teachers comparably to nearby kindergarten teachers. Preschool providers would also have to meet requirements for high-level ratings from the state's in-progress Quality Rating and Improvement System for child care providers.
Minnesota has become a hotbed for preschool innovation, with more than $44 million in federal grants and several closely-watched pilot projects. Preliminary evaluations of Parent Aware’s four pilot sites show that highly rated day cares and preschools can improve children’s language, social and pre-math skills — and that the gains are even larger for children from low-income families.
But a new report covering Parent Aware’s rollout since 2012 shows that most parents still don’t use it and most child care providers still haven’t volunteered to be rated. Of Minnesota’s roughly 12,000 licensed child-care centers and homes, just 1,900 have been rated by the four-star system.
Observers say the current effort by Alexander and Murray stands the best chance in years. The Senate education committee is scheduled to take up the bipartisan proposal April 14, and Alexander hopes to bring it to the full Senate for a vote before Memorial Day. Efforts to pass a bill in the House are less clear; a GOP bill was passed by committee on a party line vote but the legislation was pulled off the House floor mid-debate in February after complaints by conservatives that it didn’t go far enough to scale back federal oversight of schools.
Duncan was generally positive about the Alexander-Murray bill but said the Obama administration wants a final law to expand early childhood education and to place stronger demands on states to improve their worst-performing schools, among other things.
“The goal is not just to acknowledge a problem, to identify a problem, but to do something about it,” Duncan said. “One of the things we’ve done at the federal level is to challenge states and districts to take on the lowest-performing schools. The fact that the high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, the fact that African American dropout rates have been cut by 45 percent and Latino dropout rates have been cut by half, that would not have happened” without pressure from the federal government.
The Republican-controlled Senate today gave preliminary approval to the state’s main budget bill. The GOP majority allowed only a few technical amendments and resisted attempts by Democrats to add additional funding or programs to House Bill 2. This includes a Bullock Administration proposal to fund early childhood education.
The proposal sought to add $37 million in the coming biennium for early childhood education. Governor Steve Bullock calls the initiative Early Edge.
In debates about education, early childhood often comes across as K-12’s overlooked little sibling. With no guaranteed access for children and families, lower resource levels and lower quality standards for many programs, the early childhood field lacks many things that the K-12 system takes for granted. It can be tempting to think the solution is to make early childhood – or at least pre-K – look more like the K-12 system. But that would be wrong. Young children have unique early learning needs, and the educational approaches – to instruction, curriculum and assessment – that work best for young children are different from those commonly used in K-12 schools.
In fact, not only do good early childhood programs look different from K-12 schools, the K-12 system – particularly the early elementary grades – could learn some things from early childhood. Although our public education system arbitrarily starts at age 5, child development experts define early childhood as the period from birth through age 8. This means that roughly a quarter of the children in our public education system – those in grades K-3 – are still in early childhood and could benefit from educational approaches that are common in pre-K, but rare in K-12 schools.
Andrea Stockton is a very busy Brooklyn mom of three on a mission. She is devastated over the disappearance of half-day pre-k for the coming fall. All district seats will be full-day with very limited half-day programs. It's why Andrea started a petition on change.org to have the option of half day.
More than 700 people have signed it in just two weeks. Almost 22,000 families applied for full-day seats on Monday. Universal pre-k was one of Mayor Bill de Blasio's first big goals when he took office.
Minnesota's reputation for good government owes much to a bipartisan willingness to make public policy based on hard evidence and a concern that public dollars be spent where they will do the most good. So it is to be expected that Gov. Mark Dayton's proposal to offer every Minnesota child a high quality preschool education should be greeted with tough questions.
Isn't a targeted preschool program for children in poverty a better use of scarce public dollars?
Do children from middle-income families really need and benefit from publicly funded preschool?
As I explain below, the answers to these questions favor preschool for all.
Evaluations conducted by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University show that children who have had access to high-quality preschool have a 20-40 percent increase in elementary school test scores and are 40 percent less likely to stay back a grade than students who did not have access to preschool. By 4th or 5th grade, these children are, on average, three-quarters of an academic year ahead of students who did not attend a quality preschool and are also less likely to require special education.
Mayor Bill de Blasio defended on Wednesday his administration’s push for universal full-day prekindergarten in New York City, responding to complaints from some parents who believe there should be more half-day options because they believe a full-day program is too exhausting for 4-year-olds.
“What I’ve said as a matter of policy — and I ran on this as my number one agenda item — is we need full-day pre-K. It is transcendent,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference. “It’s what will prepare our kids for what they need and the education reality of today and the economic reality of today. So, that’s what we are going to orient our system to.”
Thanks to New Hampshire, Utah doesn't have the smallest percentage of students enrolled in public preschool programs.
But the Beehive State does have the second-smallest percentage, a distinction it shares with Hawaii and neighboring Idaho, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education.
Just about everyone with a stake in public education is weighing in on the Senate’s bipartisan effort to rewrite the nation’s main education law. And while there’s no consensus, a wide range of groups and people are exhibiting cautious optimism that the draft bill released Tuesday could be the first step toward reaching a bipartisan deal in an otherwise gridlocked Congress.
Investing in early childhood development reduces the dropout rate, teen pregnancy and prison costs while producing a better-educated workforce, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Tuesday.
“Wherever I go, there is huge, huge need,” Duncan said after visiting an inner-city school district’s early childhood education center.
The federal role in local schools would be significantly reduced under a bipartisan proposal released Tuesday by Senate leaders working to replace No Child Left Behind, the country’s main education law. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and ranking Democrat Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.) want to shift decisions about academic standards, whether and how to evaluate teachers, what to do about low-performing schools and other matters to states and local school districts.
The 600-page bill rejects the prescriptive nature of No Child Left Behind and the Obama administration’s K-12 policies. “Basically, our agreement continues important measurements of the academic progress of students but restores to states, local school districts, teachers, and parents the responsibility for deciding what to do about improving student achievement,” Alexander said in a statement.
Free, full-day prekindergarten was one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first big pushes when he took office. Now, some parents are pushing back on the full-day part. . .
The city’s shift toward full-day seats, he added, “unfairly hammers that choice.” Public half-day options have declined since the 2013-14 school year, when 26,400 children were enrolled, according to the Department of Education. As of November, the city provided 5,000 half-day seats in district schools and 7,600 in community-based centers.
Only 41 percent of the nation's 4.1 million 4-year-olds are enrolled in publicly funded preschool, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education. To address this "unmet need," the report calls for Congress to include preschool and other early-learning programs in its looming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the primary federal law governing education in the U.S. The reauthorization "must reflect real equity of opportunity, starting with our youngest learners," the report states.
More than 80 percent of 4-year-olds in Arizona are not enrolled in publicly funded preschools — among the highest rates in the country, according to a new study by the federal government. Nationally, 59 percent of 4-year-olds are not in preschool programs paid for with tax dollars, according to the study released Tuesday by the National Institute for Early Education Research.
The national study was released the same day that Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, visited a preschool class in Phoenix. Duncan touted the administration's efforts to get more federal funding for early-childhood education.
The U.S. Department of Education released a new report today detailing the unmet need across the country for high-quality preschool programs. According to the report, A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America, of the approximately 4 million 4-year olds in the Unites States, about 60 percent – or nearly 2.5 million – are not enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs, including state preschool programs, Head Start and programs serving children with disabilities. Even fewer are enrolled in the highest-quality programs. In Louisiana 54 percent of 4-year-olds are not enrolled.
The report highlights the need for an Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that expands access to high-quality early learning opportunities and makes the law preschool through 12th grade, rather than K-12. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan discussed the report today during a visit to Martin Luther King Jr. Early Childhood Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
There are 144,309 children age 4 in Ohio. Two percent of them are enrolled in preschool, which includes state preschool, Head Start, and special education preschool services, but does not include privately funded or locally funded preschool programs. The percentage enrolled in federal Head Start programs is 12 percent. Five percent are enrolled in special education preschool services. Of the total, 116,712 4-year-olds or about 81 percent are not enrolled in a publicly funded program.
These figures for Ohio are contained in a new report released Tuesday by theU.S Department of Education that details the unmet need among the 50 states for high-quality preschool programs.