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NIEER's weekly newsletter for the latest in early education news

NIEER Weekly

Volume 16, Issue 31

August 11, 2017

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: PreK in Court, All ESSA is Local and Engaging Parents

Hot Topics

Early Education at the Ballot Box…

States have gained renewed authority over education policy under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, and governors are enthusiastically embracing the role of early education champions. The National Governors Association recently issued a bipartisan letter encouraging Congress to strengthen the state-federal partnership on early childhood education. In Illinois, Democratic contender J.B. Pritzker this week put early education front and center for that state’s voters with a $210 million, five-point plan expanding funding and access for preK.

Last year, Illinois ranked just 21st nationwide in 4-year-old enrollment out of 44 states despite a commitment to pre-K for all according to The State of Preschool 2016. State funding per child was $3,374, an increase of $208 from 2014-2015, ranking a disappointing 34th nationwide. Total state funding was $246 million in 2015-2016, a four percent increase from 2014-2015.  Pritzker’s plan calls for: (1) requiring every child to attend kindergarten by lowering the compulsory attendance age from 6 to 5, (2) moving toward universal preK for 3- and 4-year-olds beginning with the most disadvantaged, (3) expanding eligibility for child care assistance grants, (4) expanding birth-to-3 services with a family engagement portal available to all new and expectant parents, and (5) investing in more teachers and classrooms to accommodate preK for all enrollment.

While August 2017 may seem early to outline policies for a November 2018 race, a new report by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University recommends candidates start thinking like elected officials sooner rather than later. “It may seem at first presumptuous for a nominee to make specific plans for what he or she will do…,” said John Weingart, associate director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics and director of the Eagleton Center on the American Governor, who co-authored the report. “But effective use of that transition period can greatly increase the likelihood of a relatively smooth and effective start for a new administration.”

…and in the courtroom

This week, testimony concluded in New Mexico’s pivotal educational opportunity lawsuit alleging the state’s “arbitrary and inadequate” funding of public schools, and lack of necessary monitoring and oversight, violates the state constitution by depriving children—particularly low-income, Native American, and English language learner students—of a sufficient education.

The challenge combines separate cases filed in 2014 by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (Martinez v State) and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty (Yazzie v. State). Plaintiffs seek to establish education as a fundamental right and ensure meaningful educational opportunities for all students. Defendants representing the state argued that while some outcomes are low, conditions are not unconstitutional and money alone cannot deliver better outcomes.

Testimony about how to improve academic outcomes and close the achievement gap focused on high-quality preschool and extended learning opportunities like the K-3 Plus Program, which adds days to the school year for elementary school students, to ensure low-income and ELL students start school ready. New Mexico last year enrolled about one-third of state 4-year-olds and under two percent of 3-year-olds, compared to national averages of 32 percent of 4-year-olds and five percent of 3-year-olds, according to The State of Preschool 2016.

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New on Preschool Matters Today! Blog

Leveraging Local Needs Assessments and Plan Development to Support Early Learning in ESSA

States have been developing, and in some cases have already submitted consolidated state plans under ESSA (As of May 2017, 16 states and the District of Columbia submitted plans). Once the state plans are approved, state educational agencies (SEAs) will rely on local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools to implement the plans. Local early learning supporters will need persistence to highlight and then advocate for opportunities to increase access and quality within LEA and school plans. The needs assessments and related design and development activities that LEAs undertake as part of local plan development can be important vehicles for advocacy. Local needs assessments and planning activities, if structured appropriately, can play a major role in raising the profile of early learning when decisions are made about allocating federal funds in the district. Without special attention to early learning during the needs assessment process, LEAs may simply not think about the possibilities and, for example, continue with past patterns of Title I expenditures that include early learning in a limited way or not at all.

Latest in the blog series from the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) and New America on early learning opportunities and challenges under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

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CEELO Update

Position Statement on Challenging Behavior and Young Children

CEELO this week shared a position statement from the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children addressing the significance of healthy social-emotional competence and providing guidance to practitioners, teachers, and families in preventing and effectively responding to challenging behaviors.


Quality Early Education and Child Care from Birth to Kindergarten

High-quality early education and child care for young children improves abstract physical and cognitive outcomes for the children and can result in enhanced school readiness, according to a policy statement released this week by the American Academy of Pediatrics outlining the importance of quality child care and what pediatricians can do to help children get care in high-quality early childhood education (ECE) settings.

“Children’s early experiences are all educational, whether they are at home, with extended family and friends, or in early education and child care settings,” according to the statement. “Those educational experiences can be positive or negative. At present, more than half of children less than 5 years old regularly attend some type of out-of-home child care or early childhood program, and their experiences in these settings will affect their future lives.”

The selection of preschool for immigrant and native-born Latino families in the United States

Given that preschool programs serve as a potential policy lever for reducing disparities in early learning, understanding why differences emerge in the enrollment of children constitutes is important, the report states. “Of particular interest are Latino families who constitute roughly 17% of the U.S. population and represent the fastest-growing sub-segment of the country (Pew Research Center, 2015), but are the least likely group to enroll their children in preschool during the year before kindergarten.”

The study found preschool enrollment was “multiply determined”–shaped by several factors driving parents’ decisions. In general, U.S.-born families were more likely to view preschool as a means of preparing children academically for kindergarten, whereas immigrant Latino families viewed preschool in more of a compensatory manner.

Nationally, 54% of all children attend preschool at the age of 4, while the 44% enrollment rate of Latino children is significantly lower than non-Latino White and Black children (56–57%; Child Trends, 2014)

 Parent engagement practices improve outcomes for preschool children

This research brief made available by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is one of a series of briefs on research, practice and policy relating to social and emotional learning. This brief focuses on  parent engagement models that have been found to improve school readiness outcomes.

Providing parents with support and guidance in the use of home learning materials and warm, responsive parenting skills, while also providing opportunities for parents to get involved at school, using conferences and/or home visits to support parent-teacher communication and collaboration are keys elements, the report states. Evidence also suggests effective parent engagement must be intensive and strategic, considerably longer and more involved than the kinds of parent engagement practices that are widespread in preschools now.


NYC Department of Education 

The NYC DOE is seeking a Senior Executive Director to oversee the Teaching and Learning team, which includes a group of content experts who have developed the curriculum and professional learning that is in place at over 1,800 Pre-K programs citywide, as well as a team of over 140 Instructional Coordinators, who provide instructional coaching to teachers and leaders in public elementary schools and NYCEECs. The Senior Executive Director will lead the Teaching and Learning team in research, design, production, and implementation of key instructional support materials, including research-based units of study for New York City Pre-K programs. The Senior Executive Director and the teaching and learning team work cross-functionally to inform the NYCDOE’s early childhood education research agenda. Applications will be accepted through August 15, 2017 until 3:00 p.m. For more information and application click here.

 San Francisco Office of Early Care and Education

The San Francisco Office of Early Care and Education is seeking a Fiscal Strategies Manager. Reporting to the Chief Operating Officer, the Fiscal Strategies Manager oversees the management of OECE’s funding portfolio and the staff team that manages relationships with OECE’s grantees and contractors. The Manager oversees the local deployment of several federal, state, and local funding sources to ensure that families in need have access to high-quality early care and education options. The Manager is responsible for effectively managing a team of five staff who each manage relationships with direct service providers and other contractors, and coordinating the team’s efforts with other units within OECE such as Data & Evaluation, Policy and Quality. Click here to apply.


Healthy School Communities National Forum

November 2-3, 2017
Ottawa, Ontario

Physical and Health Education Canada (PHE Canada) will host its biennial Healthy School Communities National Forum featuring keynotes, plenaries and breakout sessions from experts and on-the-ground champions from government, education, health, active living and research sectors aimed at community leaders working in health, education, research, government and active living sectors who work with schools and/or school jurisdictions to enhance health outcomes.

Early Education News Roundup 

ICYMI: Read this week’s key stories on early childhood education issues.












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