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Norway to New Jersey for Lessons on PreK

September 20, 2016

National Institute for Early Education Research Director Steve Barnett recently welcomed a delegation of education policymakers traveling from Oslo, Norway to observe high-quality preschool programs in Union City and New Brunswick, New Jersey.

The delegation, led by Oslo Vice Mayor for Education Tone Tellevik Dahl along with politicians from the Committee of Education and Culture in Oslo, toured the Eugenio Maria de Hostos Center for Early Childhood Education and Acelero Learning-Howard Center.

Norway is among the OECD countries with the highest share of public income spent on early childhood education and care, and public funding for the kindergarten sector has strongly increased over the past 15 years, enabling a rapid expansion of service provision. They face an increasingly diverse society and are looking to New Jersey for examples of quality preschool that responds to the needs of immigrant families and children.

In a discussion following their visits, Dr. Barnett compared early care and education in the US and Norway, focusing on New Jersey’s uniquely effective program. While Norway spends about $15,000 per child and every child has a right to early care and education from age 1, the US spends much, much less and in only a few places has a right to education been acknowledged before the primary grades. In New Jersey, however, 31 cities with high concentrations of poverty offer every child a high-quality early education beginning at age 3 with spending levels much more like those in Norway and embracing a continuous improvement mindset–which is key to getting the desired quality, Dr.Barnett said..

The visit reflects Dr. Barnett’s review of early education programs in Norway as part of an international Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development study. OECD uses its wealth of information on a broad range of topics to help governments foster prosperity and fight poverty through economic growth and financial stability, taking into account environmental implications and social development.