Early Education in the News
After the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) nearly lost funding last year, the early education community is breathing a sigh of relief at today’s publication of the organization’s annual State of Preschool Yearbook. That is, until we cracked it open. According to NIEER, 2013 marked the first year of decline in enrollment noted by the organization over the decade it has been publishing the Yearbooks. More than 9,000 fewer 4-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded pre-K programs across the U.S. this year. The decline came from just 11 states that reduced enrollment overall, compared with 20 states that actually grew their ranks last year. A massive decline in 4-year-olds’ enrollment in California (14,000 fewer children enrolled), as well as Pennsylvania and Arkansas (2,800 and 2,000 fewer children enrolled, respectively) dragged down the enrollment numbers across the country.
The number of preschoolers enrolled in state-funded early childhood education programs is dropping nationally.
A national study released Tuesday shows that Northwest states are holding steady in terms of overall enrollment but continue to rank near the bottom in some key areas
The study from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers Universityhas good things to say about the quality of state-funded pre-kindergarten education in Oregon and Washington. But it shows the number of children receiving this publicly funded opportunity is on the low end.
Despite having support in Washington, preschool education hit a snag recently after a report from Rutgers University found enrollment from 2012 to 2013 was lower than in the previous year. National Institute for Early Education Research director Steven Barnett discusses.
In April, the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights released data for the first time examining the number of young children suspended from preschool programs in public schools.
The 2013 State Preschool Yearbook is the newest edition of our annual report profiling state-funded prekindergarten programs in the United States. This latest Yearbook presents data on state-funded prekindergarten during the 2012-2013 school year as well as documenting a decade of progress since the first Yearbook collected data on the 2001-2002 school year. Tracking trends long term is key to understanding the progress of early childhood education across the country and improving educational opportunities for America’s children. For the first time, the Yearbook also provides narrative information on early childhood education efforts in the 10 states and the U.S. territories which do not provide state-funded pre-K.
If you followed President Obama's last State of the Union address, you know about his proposed plans for universalpreschool, which could help bridge the educational gap for young kids of different backgrounds. About two out of three 4-year-olds and two out of five 3-year-olds currently attend preschool, and the numbers are rising. The growth in preschool participation has been fueled primarily by three factors: Research has revealed important brain development occurs in the early years of life; there is compelling evidence that preschool has long-term benefits for children, and preschool helps prepare children for the increased demands of kindergarten.
A 2007 Connecticut study found that poor children who attended economically mixed prekindergarten classes progressed from well below the national average in crucial language skills to just above it during the course of the school year, while those in low-income-only classes remained below the norm. A new evaluation of Boston’s heralded preschools reaches the same conclusion — peers matter. “Vocabulary and background knowledge play a major role in student learning,” says Jason Sachs, who runs the Boston program, “and interacting with mixed-income students allows for richer discussions among students.” (In achievement and other measures, well-off kids in integrated settings do neither better nor worse.)
Governor Corbett was in Pittsburgh to make a pitch for more state money for early childhood education. Mr. Corbett said this is a tight budget year, and he was noncommittal as to whether he thinks legislators will agree with the increase, but he said he considers the money for early childhood "the best investment going."
When Salt Lake City’s Granite School District wanted to expand its successful early childhood education program it dialed up one of the world’s largest investment banks for a loan.Goldman Sachs said yes, launching the first “social impact bond” aimed at early childhood education. The program will be administered by the United Way of Salt Lake, and the state will repay investors based on carefully measured costs of avoided special education expenses down the road. If the results aren’t achieved, Goldman Sachs gets nothing back.
Social impact bonds, or as they are often called, “pay for success loans,” are a new concept of blending public purposes with private resources and approaches. The idea is to set out a measurable and achievable social objective. Private investors fund the project, while an experienced nonprofit organization implements it. A third party measures the results, and if results meet or surpass expectations investors get paid. The Salt Lake bond is the world’s first focused on early childhood education. The two previous bonds—in England and New York City—both focused on reducing prisoner re-offending.
At the heart of these evolving two-generation strategies is a growing body of research that shows high quality early childhood education —the current focus of the Obama administration, business and military groups and philanthropists—is simply not enough to lift a child out of poverty. Not when a child leaves that high quality program and may return home to the high stress that economic insecurity, chaos and a lack of parental education can create.
“It’s not reasonable for the child to be the only change-agent in a family that’s facing economic hardship,” Chase Lansdale said. “We have so much good evidence now about the positive impact of high quality early childhood education. However, those gains may not be enough if a child is coming home to a family with great hopes, but is stressed by making ends meet, working multiple jobs, looking for work or facing food insecurity.”
Education needs to be the focal point of reducing crime. . . The path for many at-risk kids begins when they start kindergarten with limited vocabularies and without key pre-literacy and pre-math skills. They can also have problems with behavior and impulse control that make it difficult to get along with others, thereby exacerbating academic challenges year after year. . .
Evidence that quality preschool experiences can significantly reduce these challenges is found in numerous reports released by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, an organization of more than 5,000 chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, attorneys general and violence survivors.
Georgia's universal prekindergarten program is the oldest in the country. It thrives in a red state and is championed by classic conservatives like Deal. The program is open to all students, and it embraces choice—any school that meets the state standards, whether religious, corporate, or private, can apply for funding. And its continued success and popularity reflects the gulf between congressional Republicans—who oppose the Obama administration's efforts to expand access to pre-K nationwide—and the local politicians who have embraced state-supported early-childhood education in some of the most conservative states in the country.
The fact that Georgia's program does not rely on taxpayer dollars has contributed to its bipartisan acceptance. "Pre-K is not a tax burden," says Stephanie Blank, the founding chair of the governing board of Georgia Early Education for Ready Students, or GEEARS. "Some would argue it's a financial burden, but playing the lottery is a choice. That does make it far more palatable."
Experts, and some Democrats in the Pennsylvania General Assembly are in agreement the state should fund early education. But, concerns about cost and quality are preventing other groups, including the governor’s office, from signing on to the idea. . .
One of the recurring themes in the emerging science on early childhood is that early is rarely early enough. Research is finding that many of the skills and behavioral traits that allow a child to succeed in pre-K and kindergarten are laid down even earlier, in the first few years of life. And when kids don’t get the kind of warm, responsive interactions they need with adults, even the best preschool is unlikely to fully unwind the damage.
Even if all 1,020 preschool slots proposed in the state budget agreement reached over the weekend are filled, there still won't be enough affordable seats to prepare every 3- and 4-year-old in the state for kindergarten.
"The reality is the growth in early childhood slots aren't going to come in large numbers," Malloy said. "Facilities aren't ready and we will focus first on areas of greatest poverty."
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wants to double the number of 4-year-olds in the city enrolled in preschool by 2018. . . . Walsh on Tuesday announced the creation of an advisory committee to make recommendations by November on how the city can expand access to its full-day preschool, or K1, program.
The state of Vermont is poised to adopt a universal pre-kindergarten program for 3- and 4-year-olds. . . .The new law will require school districts to offer at least 10 hours of instruction for 35 weeks to any preschool-aged child. The state will reimburse districts of qualified pre-kindergarten programs offered by private or public providers.
The Connecticut legislature has set into motion plans to change the kindergarten entrance age. Under current law, children may enroll in kindergarten as long as they turn 5 by Jan. 1. The legislation calls for a plan that would shift that date to Oct. 1. The change is contained in a bill that establishes the Office of Early Childhood and sharply expands the number of preschool slots for needy children.
Can babies really learn to read? Not really, according to researchers who took 117 babies and had half the group use flashcards, DVDs and books while half did not. In 13 of 14 assessments, which included the ability to recognize letter names, letter sounds and vocabulary, the researchersfound no difference between the two groups. The one category in which there was a difference: The parents of children exposed to the reading product were convinced their children were, in fact, learning new words and reading.
“The results really surprised us,” says Susan Neuman of New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, who led the research, which involved babies 9 to 18 months old. “We thought that at least some rudimentary skills would show up, but none did.”