Early Education in the News

Clarion-Ledger (Opinion)
December 2, 2014

With the holiday season full upon us, most of us are thinking about the children in our lives and how to share the wonder of Christmas. So it might be a good time to think about one thing we could do as a nation and as a state that would significantly improve the lives of America's youngest children: make a serious commitment to early childhood education.

A recent poll conducted for the bi-partisan First Five Year's Fund found that 71 percent of Americans of all political stripes support increasing the federal investment in high quality early childhood programs. Over 9 in 10 support making early education and childcare more affordable, and 67 percent support ensuring access to affordable childcare. So this is one of those rare issues upon which most Americans and both parties actually agree.

Washington Post
December 1, 2014

 The No Child Left Behind education law could be making a political comeback.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who is the incoming chairman of the Senate committee overseeing education, says his top education priority is fixing the landmark Bush-era law. His goal? Get a bill signed by President Barack Obama early next year.

Doing so will require bipartisanship that’s been elusive since the law, primarily designed to help minority and poor children, came up for renewal in 2007.

December 1, 2014

ExceleRate Illinois, the state's new quality rating and improvement system for all early learning programs, today announced a collaboration with the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) to generate awareness for the importance of quality early learning programs among pediatricians and their patients' families.

"This collaboration is a perfect fit for ExceleRate Illinois because pediatricians are such a trusted and 'go-to' resource for parents," said Theresa Hawley, Ph.D., executive director, Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.  "We are delighted to launch this collaboration, which complements ICAAP's involvement in early learning initiatives and helps extend our message to parents about the importance of quality early learning programs to their child's healthy development," she said. 

Through a website (www.excelerateillinois.com), parents can access resources about how a quality early learning program can prepare their child for success in school and in life.  

The Freeport News
December 1, 2014

The  Ministry of Education, Science and Technology puts “a high value” on early chldhood education. So said Minister of Education, Jerome K. Fitzgerald earlier this week during the official regrading of Naomi Blatch Primary School to Naomi Blatch Preschool. Fitzgerald informed on Monday that approximately $368,832.54 was invested to upgrade the facility and he deemed the exercise a testament of the priority of education at all levels. The minister pointed out that the Ministry and its Department of Education have placed  “a high value” on early childhood education.

Making reference to the National Institute for Early Education Research, Fitzgerald quoted, “children who attend a high-quality preschool enter grade school with better reading skills, richer vocabularies and stronger basic math skills than those who do not.”

December 1, 2014

On Monday night our City-County Council will vote on a proposal to offer high-quality preschool to thousands of children over five years. The proposal is the result of a compromise between the council’s Democratic leadership and a Republican mayor. . .

For families of the children of Indianapolis, however, this program would mean much more. Parents don’t need a lot of convincing about the importance of preschool. Nearly every parent wants to give their child a great start to school, and they know preschool works. The problem, as we know, is the high cost of tuition and limitations of programs like Head Start that can only serve so many children. Nearly every parent wants the best for their child, but so many are on the outside of good preschool classrooms looking in. 

December 1, 2014

As the state Department of Education continues to take control of early childhood education across the state, local educators say they’re keeping a watchful eye on proposed changes. Last month, education department officials proposed so-called streamlined licensing regulations for child care and Head Start centers.

Local educators, however, have downplayed the proposal, noting similar regulations have been in place in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes for several years. The three major components of the licensing regulations include more intensive criminal background checks, increased transparency for schools that requires them to post their licenses and daily schedules, reduced paperwork and more relevant training.

The Oregonian
December 1, 2014

Gov. John Kitzhaber's education spending proposals for 2015-17 would deliver huge gains for early childhood education and primary school reading instruction while holding the rest of K-12 education at a relative standstill.

Red Orbit
November 30, 2014

Children who attended a full-day preschool program had higher scores on measures of school readiness skills (language, math, socio-emotional development, and physical health), increased attendance, and reduced chronic absences compared to children who attended part-day preschool, according to a study in the November 26 issue of JAMA.

Participation in high-quality early childhood programs at ages 3 and 4 years is associated with greater school readiness and achievement, higher rates of educational attainment and socioeconomic status, and lower rates of crime. Although publicly funded preschool such as Head Start and state prekindergarten serve an estimated 42 percent of US 4-year­ olds, most provide only part-day services, and only 15 percent of 3-year-olds enroll. These rates plus differences in quality may account for only about half of entering kindergartners having mastered skills needed for school success. One approach for enhancing effectiveness is increasing from a part-day to a full-day schedule; whether this improves outcomes is unknown, according to background information in the article.

November 29, 2014

The Great Recession took a greater toll on Michigan than many other states. Our recovery has taken longer, as well. There are signs that we are on the mend. In fact, economists predict that the state will continue to show improvement during the next two to five years, including steady job growth. . .

Many experts believe that early childhood education is crucial to our economic future, and if we fail to focus on education, the chance that Michigan will falter again is much greater. In an article this month in Bridge Magazine, Ted Roelofs and Mike Wilkinson wrote about which Michigan regions are growing the fastest. In the article, the authors wrote the state will falter in the decade ahead if it fails to produce more college-educated graduates to compete in a knowledge-based economy. It also stated that Michigan is already lagging behind when it comes to per capita income with neighboring states.

Duluth News Tribune
November 29, 2014

Education advocates will be intensifying their push for more state-paid preschool during the upcoming legislative session, the latest sign that momentum around early education in the state is building. MinneMinds, a group of Minnesota foundations, nonprofits, cities and education institutions, is gearing up to ask legislators for $125 million to $150 million to fund early learning scholarships for low-income children. Advocates are trying to make wider use of scholarships for low-income, at-risk children. Those scholarships now cover only about 10 percent of the state’s eligible children.

November 29, 2014

Listening. Sharing. Following directions. Making friends. Managing big emotions. Planning for the future. A high-quality preschool program helps children develop in all these ways. But, a new report argues, such matters of the heart shouldn't be left behind just as students are learning to tie their shoes. Melissa Tooley and Laura Bornfreund of the New America Foundation write that schools should focus on these same skills, habits, attitudes, and mindsets with older kids. They say research shows they're just as important as academics.

November 26, 2014

New research suggests that young kids could benefit from more time around their peers in a classroom setting.

A new study released Wednesday in theJournal of the American Medical Associationfound that children are better prepared for learning and social interaction in full-time preschool than in part-time programs.

The River City News
November 25, 2014

A federal grant being pursued by the Commonwealth of Kentucky could lead to universal preschool in eight local school districts.

The $15 million possibility was sprung on the districts pretty suddenly, according to Bill Grein, an administrator with Covington Independent Public Schools. He presented details about the grant to the Covington Board of Education last month. "This grant opportunity came at us like a tornado," he told the board.

November 25, 2014

As public support and awareness of the importance of preschool grows at the federal, state and local level, there is a debate in the early childhood education world over how to achieve “universal preschool” and what form it should take. The battle over the meaning of the term was in full display earlier this year when some California legislators, led by then-Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg, pushed to expand the state’s new transitional kindergarten program under the banner of “universal preschool” to all 4-year-olds, regardless of income. Currently only children whose 5th birthday falls between September and December are eligible to enroll in transitional kindergarten, which is effectively an extra year of school paid for by taxpayers. But instead of expanding transitional kindergarten, others in the Legislature pushed to expand less costly full-day preschool programs – also in the name of universal preschool. This was the approach that was backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, and which eventually won out.

Montana Standard
November 24, 2014

When it comes to choosing a preschool in Montana, parents are on their own.

The state of Montana licenses day care centers and registers day care homes. But there is no oversight on preschools. The preschool accreditation standards approved last week by the Montana Board of Public Education won’t change that lack of regulation. The accreditation standards don’t require any preschool to be accredited – unless it is a preschool funded by state money.

Basically the Board of Public Education set accreditation standards for public preschools or preschools funded by public schools. There are few such programs now, because no funding is available.

Goshen News
November 21, 2014

With only 80 childcare providers in Elkhart County to serve the more than 10,900 children in need of services, collaboration is key, said Melanie Brizzi.

Brizzi, director of Early Childhood and Out of School Learning through the Indiana Family and Social Service Administration, spoke to a group of 200 educators, community leaders and others at Goshen College Friday morning. The fourth annual Success by 6 Summit was sponsored by United Way.

“What science is showing us is that the early years from zero to five are critical to brain development and during those years we have a window of opportunity and if we fail to rise to that occasion, we are doing children a disservice,” Brizzi said.

Oregon State University News & Research Communications
November 21, 2014

An intervention that uses music and games to help preschoolers learn self-regulation skills is helping prepare at-risk children for kindergarten, a new study from Oregon State University shows.

Self-regulation skills – the skills that help children pay attention, follow directions, stay on task and persist through difficulty – are critical to a child’s success in kindergarten and beyond, said OSU’s Megan McClelland, a nationally recognized expert in child development and a co-author of the new study.

November 21, 2014

The method, called “formative assessment,” isn’t about paper-and-pen standardized testing, or pulling a student out of a classroom and drilling on what he or she knows after each lesson is taught. It’s a teacher’s constant observation of how a child is learning and developing in various ways — with a goal of using that information to guide and tailor instruction. Next year the new process will spread to more classrooms and will eventually be in use in every public elementary school across the state. It is an outgrowth of a $70 million Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant awarded to North Carolina by the federal government and also is part of legislation enacted by state lawmakers. The plan was recommended by a think tank composed of teachers, parents and scholars from seven universities in North Carolina. The group worked for about a year to devise the program, which moves North Carolina away from testing that some experts say is developmentally inappropriate for young children.

November 21, 2014

Before students start kindergarten, they should be able to recognize the letters in their names, count to 10 and engage in a conversation. But more than 40 percent of Mississippi kindergartners begin school unprepared, according to a 2013 survey of their teachers.

Mississippi KIDS COUNT released last fall the results of the first statewide survey of Mississippi’s public school kindergarten teachers. Respondents estimated that 41 percent of their students were not “kindergarten ready” and identified that as the top challenge they face. Increased access to high-quality pre-K would go a long way toward improving that, they said.

Huffington Post New York
November 21, 2014

In a reversal of the way income inequality usually works, it's the very wealthy who appear to have less access to New York City's state-funded preschool centers during the program's first year.

Last week, the de Blasio administration announced that 53,230 children had successfully enrolled in the city's prekindergarten centers, exceeding Mayor Bill de Blasio's goal to enroll 53,000 students this year. Data provided exclusively to The Huffington Post from the mayor’s office shows that most of these new pre-K seats are located in ZIP codes where the median household income is below the city's median income of $51,865.