Early Education in the News

The Journal Gazette (IN)
October 21, 2014

Allen County officials say they are waiting to see where future funding will come from for statewide prekindergarten now that Gov. Mike Pence has withdrawn an application for $80 million in federal funds.

“We’re just waiting for the Indiana solution to funding,” said Stephen Smith, board chairman and interim CEO for United Way of Allen County. United Way is one of the key players in the implementation of a forthcoming $10 million state grant that will finance pilot pre-K programs in five counties, including Allen County. If he’s going to decline federal money, he suggests there is a Hoosier way to do this, and it’s better without having to answer to Uncle Sam. We’re just anxiously waiting for his proposal for funding.”

The governor pulled an $80 million application to the federal Preschool Development Grant program last week, saying he did not want “the lure of federal grant dollars to define our state’s mission and programs.”

New York Times (Opinion)
October 21, 2014

With the introduction of universal pre-K in New York City, we have created a new entry point into our public school system. This raises a key question: What do we want our children’s first experiences in school to be? What does a good education look like for 4-year-olds?

This summer, Bank Street College of Education led training for 4,000 of New York’s pre-K teachers, including both veterans and hundreds of people who started teaching pre-K for the first time last month. Worried teachers talked about how the pressure to achieve good outcomes on the third-grade state exams has been trickling down to early childhood classrooms in the form of work sheets, skill drills and other developmentally inappropriate methods.

The problem is real, and it is not unique to New York City. 

October 21, 2014

The results of Mississippi's first statewide assessment of Kindergarten readiness reveal that two-thirds of the state's youngest learners enter school unprepared to learn.

More than 40,000 Kindergarteners from 144 districts throughout the state took the STAR Early Literacy exam during the first month of the 2014-15 school year. More than 65% of students scored below the 530 benchmark score that indicates a student has mastered at least 70% of early reading skills. The state average score was 501.

Atlanta Journal-Consitution
October 20, 2014

The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is launching a new initiative designed to help preschool providers better identify and support children that are learning English.

The initiative announced this week will assist practitioners in identifying dual language learners, children that are learning English and one or more languages, and supporting their language development – a key factor for school readiness.

PR Web
October 20, 2014

On Tuesday, October 21, as the White House continues to promote the importance of early learning for our nation’s children, Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) will co-host an early learning forum in Los Angeles, featuring U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as keynote speaker.

Titled “Children: LA’s Greatest Investment,” the forum will examine quality in early learning and public policy to support early childhood education. Experts in education, philanthropy, government, and the business community will discuss President Obama’s early learning agenda and efforts in Los Angeles County to support early learning.

“Expanding access to high-quality preschool is the single most important step we can take to improve the future of our children,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. 

October 20, 2014

The best way to improve reading proficiency in Massachusetts is to develop a statewide, holistic strategy to provide access to high quality early childhood education and relevant supports for families. Such an approach could speak to the significant gaps that universal preschool does not address in the first three years of a child’s life, as well as ensure the sustainability of such an approach by connecting families with the resources they need to create a healthy, stable environment for their young children. 

Thus far, our state’s leaders have been unwilling to invest the resources it will take to provide universal access to early education programs for every child from birth through age five, regardless of income. They have been inhibited by the estimated price tag of more than $1 billion. This, in spite of studies that have shown that for every $1 we invest in early education, we save at least $7 in long-term costs associated with high dropout rates, teen pregnancy, incarceration, and other social costs. 

Dallas News
October 20, 2014

Pennsylvania stands to reap significant benefits in the form of reduced costs to taxpayers and the state budget as a result of expanded access to pre-kindergarten programs for the commonwealth's 3- and 4-year-olds. That's according to new research released by Pre-K for PA and conducted by The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia.

The report outlines how investment in high-quality pre-k benefits K-12 school systems by reducing the need for special education programs and grade repetition, and producing fewer behavioral problems in school.Pennsylvania schools currently spend a significant amount of time and money helping children catch up who arrive for kindergarten unprepared – both academically and socially.

Providence Journal
October 20, 2014

The Hult Prize Foundation announced today that President Bill Clinton has selected Early Childhood Education as the topic for the sixth annual Hult Prize. Student teams from over 600 universities and representing 150 countries will compete to develop innovative start-ups which seek to reimagine education, in order to reach ten million children, aged 0-6 over the next five years who reside in urban slums and beyond. The winner will be awarded one million dollars in seed capital, along with resources to scale worldwide.

October 19, 2014

Education may be the great equalizer, but not every child in Alabama has an equal opportunity to quality education. Expanding Alabama's state-funded First Class Pre-K program to 100 percent of the state's four-year-olds could be part of the answer. The program already serves 12 percent of children and is one of only four programs to meet all of the National Institute for Early Education Research's quality standards. The program needs $13.2 million in additional funding each year from the state for the next eight years to become fully funded and accessible, according to the Alabama School Readiness Alliance Pre-K Task Force.

Rocket News
October 19, 2014

Education is a major issue in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign. Understandably, the discussion has centered on funding and spending. But once we get over the political palaver, the next governor must decide how best to spend whatever money is available. I have a suggestion: early education. . .

The materials Pre-K for PA has gathered are compelling. Research has determined that by age 5, 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed. If children are to reach their potential, education and training must start very early in life. The benefits build as the child grows. High-quality early-education programs lead to fewer students requiring special education programs, reduce grade repetition, and increase the likelihood of high school graduation and college enrollment. This adds up to lower costs and greater returns from our education spending.

October 19, 2014

Wisconsin was eligible to apply for up to $15 million. The actual amount of our application, though, will be $0. The state is passing up the grant — in this round, anyway. . . 

Here’s the background. Wisconsin received a similar federal grant for $34 million under a program called the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge. That grant started in January 2013 and will be active through December 2016. It’s a big, complicated program. The state’s Department of Children and Families, Department of Education and Department of Health Services all have a hand in administering it, and it’s touched everything from attempts to spur private investment in early childhood programs to aligning YoungStar, the state’s child care ranking system, with the curriculum needs of 4-year-old kindergarten. In sum, the state is using that $34 million to help advance a number of initiatives that will help make sure Wisconsin kids get the support, love and education they need from birth.

IndyStar [Op-Ed]
October 17, 2014

It's been a year of long-overdue momentum for preschool in Indiana, with the state's first investment in it and major pushes from the city of Indianapolis as well as corporate and philanthropic organizations. Then came Thursday, and word that Gov. Mike Pence's administration had made the surprise, last-minute and largely unexplained decision not to apply for a federal education grant that could have brought Indiana up to $80 million more to spend on preschool programs for low-income students. That would have been several times more money than the state has committed to spending under a Pence-led pilot program.

The Tennessean
October 16, 2014

Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration wants nearly $70 million in federal funding for Nashville and Shelby County to expand early childhood education, but it won’t go toward expanding the state’s current prekindergarten program. If awarded the full amount requested, Metro Nashville Public Schools plans to add 1,600 pre-K seats by 2018. The Shelby County Consortium would add 3,580 seats over the same time period. With matching local public and private funding, there will be $109 million committed to opening 2,230 new preschool programs and improving a total of nearly 3,000 existing seats, according to the grant application.“We would welcome any extra funding for pre-K,” said Joe Bass, a spokesman for Metro Schools. “Pre-K is one of the biggest things you can do to help student achievement.”

U.S. News & World Report
October 16, 2014

The White House on Thursday will announce a new initiative to encourage technological and research support to combat the word gap, a learning curve many low-income children face in their early years before entering school. Research has shown that children from lower income families on average hear 30 million fewer words in the first three years of their lives than those from wealthier families. Proponents of closing the gap say it’s important for parents to talk, read and sing with their children, but that low-income parents often don’t have the time or the resources to do so. The Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Institute of Museum and Library Services will partner to encourage more organizations to develop technologies and research that can help better spread information to the communities that need it, the White House will announce.

October 16, 2014

Science and politics shared the stage Wednesday night as two nationally known researchers discussed how a baby's brain is primed for learning from the moment of birth, and politicians underscored the need for a greater state commitment to early-childhood education.

"The Case for Early Learning," a panel discussion at Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, drew hundreds of parents, policymakers and education advocates interested in furthering state and local commitment to preschool education.

University of Washington brain scientists Patricia Kuhl and Andrew Meltzoff, co-directors of the UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) described how the timing and quality of play, stimulation and interactions with adults can help mold the developing mind, for better and for worse.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray explained why one of the most important initiatives of his administration is the passage of a pre-K pilot program to bring early-childhood education to low-income children.

"In a city that's so committed to issues of equality," said Murray, "I don't know anything else that is more important for us to do."

Alaska Dispatch News
October 16, 2014

The Oct. 14 deadline for the state of Alaska to apply for federal funds under the U.S. Department of Education's Preschool Development Grants program has come and gone. Alaska would have been eligible to apply for $10 million but did not submit an application. Unfortunately, this is just the latest example of Alaska choosing not to reclaim some of the federal tax dollars we pay and use them to increase early childhood opportunities in our state. Alaska is falling further and further behind when it comes to early childhood investments. According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, in the 2002-2003 school year, Alaska served 22 percent of its 4-year-old children in either Head Start or special education or state pre-kindergarten programs. A decade later, in the 2012-2013 school year, the picture remained the same -- 22 percent of Alaska’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in one of these three programs.

King5 News Seattle
October 15, 2014

Seattle voters have a big decision to make next month regarding universal preschool for families in the city.

Voters must choose between two competing preschool propositions. Prop 1A, which is supported by a number of unions and Prop 1B, which is backed by Seattle's mayor and city council.

Voters will have two questions to answer. First, should either universal preschool measures be enacted into law? Second, regardless of whether you voted yes or no, if one of these measures is enacted, which should it be? Prop 1A or Prop 1B?

October 15, 2014

Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT) unveiled his new early childhood education proposal this week; he says it could eliminate the wait lists for preschools across the state.

The governor visited the Early Family Learning Center at Skyline in Great Falls on Tuesday, where he read to pre-K students. Afterwards, he spoke with parents, teachers, and administrators about Early Edge Montana, his proposal to publicly fund early childhood education.

Bullock plans to ask the legislature for $37 million over two years to fund the program: "We're proposing that we end up giving block grants to the school district that can go through and both either have classes in the district, work with head start or community-based providers."

Saporta Report
October 14, 2014

Likely voters in Georgia were asked whether the state should hold the line on taxes and spending or make sure that there is sufficient funding for needs such as education. More than two-thirds (68 percent) said it was more important to ensure adequate funding while 28 percent prefer holding the line on taxes. Majority support to fund education held true for every party affiliation.

Asked if they would support using a portion of lottery funds to provide voluntary Pre-K programs for 4-year olds, 87 percent were supportive compared to 83 percent four years ago. At the national level, Georgia voters were asked if they favored a Congressional plan to expand access to early childhood programs. There was 74 percent support for the Congressional plan to improve early childhood education.

Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, gave Georgia an aspirational goal–to reach every child with a high quality program.

“Georgia does better than most states,” Barnett said. “But its not in the top tier. With a few small changes, Georgia could move in the top tier states–reducing class size like North Carolina and Alabama." . . .  “Georgia can do better,” Barnett said. “It could once again be the national leader in Pre-K–make high quality the norm; make sure every classroom is high quality; and make sure there’s a reliability of state funding. All of these things could be done by 2020. Georgia could once again be the national leader in pre-K. Georgia needs to do this for its children, and Georgia needed to do this for its future.

Sun Herald
October 14, 2014

Early childhood education -- both kindergarten and prekindergarten -- should be mandatory in Mississippi. Until then, this state will continue to struggle to educate children who are simply not ready to learn when they do have to start school...

Children without the benefit of pre-K and kindergarten instruction are entering the primary grades without the most basic of learning skills and comprehension. "We have got to have kids in kindergarten. It can't be an option," she told the Sun Herald. "To me, if we're going to improve education in this state -- and we are -- we have got to get children into high-quality learning as quickly as we can. And then have them prepared."