Early Education in the News

Think Progress
November 6, 2015

Tolanda Barnette has spent the whole day caring for other people’s children, only to come home to a homeless shelter and worry about how to provide for her own three kids. She currently makes $12 an hour at a daycare center, a job she’s had at different centers for 13 years. “I love children,” she said. “There is nothing more pleasing to be around than kids… I’ve always had a love for kids since I was a child.” That passion brought her into this line of work, but it hasn’t made it any easier when the low pay presented challenges for her own children. She lost her housing voucher last summer when she had to leave her apartment of seven and a half years and wasn’t able to secure a new one within 90 days. Her family bounced around, staying with different friends and family until they were able to get admitted to a shelter this past June. . .

arnette is one of the millions of people who go to work everyday and care for the country’s youngest citizens. As more and more children live in families where all the adults hold jobs — both parents work in nearly half of two-parent households, and the vast majority of single parents work — the work they do has become even more vital. Yet their pay is outrageously low. According to a new analysis from the Economic Policy Institute, the median wage for child care workers is $10.31. That’s not just a small figure on its own; it’s also very low compared to what these workers could make elsewhere. Even when compared to other workers with the same gender, race, educational attainment, age, geography, and a number of other factors, EPI found that child care providers make 23 percent less. And even those figures are likely underestimating the problem, given that any provider who is self employed and working out of her own home — providers who are likely to earn even less than those in, say, centers — aren’t counted.

November 6, 2015

Connecticut has some of the nation’s largest achievement gaps between white students and students of color. That’s the lesson from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results released during the last week of October. These results provide Connecticut residents a clear picture of how the state’s schools perform, for different student groups, compared to other states, and over time.

To close these gaps, Connecticut’s schools must do a much better job of serving low-income, black, and Hispanic students. But, because one-third to one-half of the achievement gap exists before children start school, efforts to close those gaps must also start earlier, in the preschool and early childhood years.

Research shows that high-quality pre-k programs can help to narrow achievement gaps for low-income students, improving their school and long-term outcomes. This is crucial for a state like Connecticut that has struggled with persistent achievement gaps between student groups for decades.

Erie Times News
November 5, 2015

Erie County's poverty rate for children fell by the thousands when the U.S. Census Bureau reported its most recent estimates in September.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is hoping to not only wipe out child poverty across the Erie region, but also to eliminate it throughout the United States.

Casey is part of a team of senators that last week introduced the Child Poverty Act, a new bill that aims to eliminate child poverty across the country in 20 years.

CBS Moneywatch
November 5, 2015

LiAnne Flakes, 40, has worked in the child care industry for 22 years, and after all that time she says she still can't afford health insurance and struggles at times to buy groceries.

"I've been taking care of other families, making sure their needs are met, but you can't even take care of your own needs," she said of her hourly rate, which until recently was $10.75 an hour. "It is a struggle from day to day. Going to the grocery store is a luxury after I pay my bills."

Despite all this, Flakes is doing better than many other child care workers because 15 percent of them live below the poverty line, or double the poverty rate for workers in other occupations, according to new research from The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.

Christian Science Monitor
November 5, 2015

Even Janet Yellen, the head of the Federal Reserve, has chimed in, highlighting research that points to preschool attendance's correlation with later-in-life success, particularly for poorer children, as measured by degrees, income, and imprisonment. 

What worries Seattle outdoor educator Andrew Jay is who's not going to preschool. Families in what he calls the "forgotten middle" are often forced to forgo ECE, he says, as childcare becomes outrageously expensive. Washington couples making less than $29,000 per year receive free ECE, but on the open market, the average preschool bill runs to $12,000.

Mr. Jay is the CEO of Tiny Trees, a preschool design launching in September 2016, which he says can lower costs and build young children's social and mental skills. There's just one catch: it's outside.


November 4, 2015

Goldman said its investment had helped almost 99 percent of the Utah children it was tracking avoid special education in kindergarten. The bank received a payment for each of those children.

The big problem, researchers say, is that even well-funded preschool programs — and the Utah program was not well funded — have been found to reduce the number of students needing special education by, at most, 50 percent. Most programs yield a reduction of closer to 10 or 20 percent.

Ed Central
November 4, 2015

There is growing consensus that access to pre-K is important and that governments should invest more in early education. But should services be available to all children or just those who policymakers have determined need them the most? When resources are limited, is it better to provide more generous supports to a select group or modest services to all? There is less consensus around the answers to these questions. As more states and districts create and expand pre-K programs, policymakers continue to wrestle with the best way to provide it. We’ve recently seen programs unfold using both approaches–from New York City’s new universal pre-K program to Minnesota’s recent decision to fundtargeted scholarships rather than universal access.

89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio
November 3, 2015

The process grew complicated back in 2010 when the California legislature changed the age for getting into kindergarten to 5 by Sept. 1. Parents were left wondering if their child was old enough for kindergarten. Now new research suggests that waiting until the child is a little older might lead to mental health benefits as the students advances through the grades. According to Thomas Dee of Stanford’s Center for Education Policy Analysis, starting kindergarten at age 7 leads to children who are better able to focus and control their emotions. “Delaying kindergarten virtually eliminates the probability that a child is at risk of ADHD,” he said. . .

Waiting until children are older to start school, known as "redshirting," is not a new concept. Dee points out there is little evidence that delaying the start of school improves educational and economic outcomes. However, his study highlights important mental health benefits that can ultimately impact school performance. Yet these benefits may not apply to all children. “We found that the gains for delaying kindergarten tended to be concentrated among more affluent kids,” Dee said. Why? “Kids who come from more affluence are more likely to be in high-quality PreK, maybe ones that stress a more play-based curriculum.”

The Columbia Chronicle
November 3, 2015

Presidential campaign education platforms primarily focus on college tuition and student debt. However, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders support the implementation of universal prekindergarten education, which would increase access to high-quality preschool education to families of all socioeconomic backgrounds. In the past, preschool has been out of reach for lower-income children, as private preschools are expensive and public programs are limited. State-funded preschool is available in 40 states and the District of Columbia, but only three in 10 of the nation’s 4-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality prekindergarten program, according to the White House’s website. 

Duluth News Tribune
November 3, 2015

Minnesota voters will decide more than 100 school levies Tuesday, and nearly all of them will address one of four concerns: school building improvements, security upgrades, classroom technology or operating revenue. . .

Besides the debate over whether state education funding is keeping pace with inflationary costs, it's clear that new educational programs and tools are driving many of the requests for new local taxes. The Legislature's decision to fund all-day kindergarten in 2013 set in motion a classroom space squeeze that many districts are still trying to address. And Gov. Mark Dayton's latest push to provide universal preschool for 4-year-olds has exacerbated space concerns in many communities. "Districts understand the importance of early learning," said Kirk Schneidawind, executive director of the Minnesota School Boards Association. But Schneidawind said districts need time and resources to find the space and teachers to accommodate more young learners. "There's nothing worse than an overcrowded classroom or an overcrowded school," he said.

The Journal Gazette
November 2, 2015

All children deserve a strong start in their educational journey. But in far too many Hoosier communities, many children living in poverty miss out. Without access to high-quality early-learning programs, they fall behind in literacy, math and social skills. Unfortunately, far too many never catch up. Last year, our state spent nearly $22 million to remediate 4,500 kindergartners because they entered unprepared and had to repeat the grade. And in Allen County alone, only one in four children was kindergarten-ready. Not only is this an avoidable misuse of time, resources and money, but it brings to light a cyclical issue – missed opportunities to educate our youth, in whom rest the future of Indiana. . .

Up until this year, we were one of only 10 states to not offer state-funded pre-K for 4-year-olds. Now we finally have begun. On My Way launched this fall as Indiana’s first pre-K program to serve children, starting at age 4, from families who are below 127 percent of the federal poverty level. PNC Bank joined United Way of Allen County early on to match funds for this three-year program. Together with the state match, our seed money has helped begin the process of improving quality curriculum, teacher training, facility upgrades and family engagement.  

The River City News
November 2, 2015

Early childhood education isn’t a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Tea Party issue. It is a critical component to our community’s long term success, and should be treated that way, regardless of your political persuasion. 
If you are under the belief that early childhood education, (pre-natal care, quality childcare, all day pre-school & kindergarten) is a waste of time and money, and efforts to improve early childhood learning are lost by the age of nine, I want to ask you this question, “Who have you been listening to?” While it’s easy to get caught up in political passions during the campaign season, now is the time to put rhetoric aside and hear what our local experts say about the importance of early childhood education.

All Africa
November 2, 2015

Like Favour, over 10 million school age children are out of school in Nigeria because their families cannot afford to fund the fees, especially pre-school, which is presently not state-funded. There is an urgent need to expand the access of early childhood education, as the importance cannot be over emphasised.

Past governments have only always spent a fraction of the United Nation's recommended national investment on education, and this has had a negative impact on the quality and accessibility to education, especially pre-schools. Most high quality pre-schools in the country are privately owned and inaccessible to disadvantaged families because of the cost.

Children are made to stay at home at an age (0-5 years), where research has shown that the human brain is developing - therefore representing a critically important window of opportunity to develop the child's full potential and shape key academic, social, and cognitive skills that determine a child's success in life and in school.

October 29, 2015

A report released this week by the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now concluded the statewide achievement gap begins in early childhood and offered recommendations for how the state can improve educational outcomes in traditionally underserved communities by improving access to pre-kindergarten programs.

"We have to recognize that achievement gaps appear very early," said ConnCAN Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Alexander.

Alexander said the report was a way for the organization to join the conversation about early childhood education, which she said fits ConnCAN's belief that "every child should have access to quality education, regardless of race, zip code or economic status."

Star Tribune
October 28, 2015

Math and reading proficiency scores for Minnesota fourth-graders this year have dipped from their record highs in 2013, according to the results of a national test released Wednesday. In 2013, fourth-graders in Minnesota posted the highest scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), considered the best comparison of students from state to state in the country. But scores for both reading and math dropped in fourth grade this year.

The state also saw no significant improvement in reading or math scores for eighth-graders in Minnesota. Still the state continues to outperform others across the country, especially in math. But state officials say Minnesota’s educators should not be content because large gaps in achievement show many poor and minority students are not meeting standards.

October 28, 2015

Over the past three years, California has more than quadrupled the number of early childhood centers being evaluated with a new rating system, but that is still just a fraction of the state’s publicly subsidized programs.

The U.S. Department of Education released Tuesday a progress report of the 20 states, including California, that received federal Early Learning Challenge grants starting in 2011. The grants, part of the Race to the Top program, were meant to improve publicly funded early learning programs with systems to rate their quality, as well as track health screenings and assess children’s readiness for kindergarten.

October 28, 2015

What is not mixed is what universal, affordable preschool offers working parents. Another name for preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds is, of course, child care. And child care is a huge problem in the U.S. It often costs more than what a family spends on rent or food—even more than what it costs to send a child to a public college. The price tag for what the average family shells out has risen more than 70 percent since the mid-1980s. And that’s if you are able to find a spot somewhere nearby that you trust.

Yet families desperately need it. The model of a family whereall parents work has become the norm: Both parents work in 60 percent of married couples with children, while nearly 70 percent of single mothers and more than 80 percent of single fathers are employed.

U.S. Department of Education
October 28, 2015

The U.S. Department of Education released a report today that shows Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge states are rapidly improving the quality of early learning programs while enrolling more children, especially from low- and moderate income families, in the highest-quality programs.

What’s more, thousands more children are receiving health screenings to help detect medical or developmental issues earlier, the report shows. The report comes from the annual performance reviews for the 20 states that have received more than $1 billion in Early Learning Challenge grants since 2011. These reports capture the successes achieved and obstacles overcome by states in the last year.

October 26, 2015

It comes as no surprise that the quality of a program matters. The Tennessee evaluation reinforces the importance of quality and Utah, Georgia, and North Carolina demonstrate the benefits that can be generated when quality is present.

But that’s only part of the story.

Children develop on a continuum and the years between birth-through-eight represent a unique period on that continuum, when brain architecture is forming. 

To build a strong foundation for learning and third-grade reading, children need good health, strong families, and high quality, developmentally appropriate early learning environments through third grade.

Catalyst Chicago
October 26, 2015

Chicago and Illinois have long track records of leadership in early childhood education. As early as the 1960s, the Chicago Public Schools was among a handful of pioneering districts that createdChild-Parent Centers (CPCs) to provide high-quality early childhood education -- PreK to 3rd grade -- while supporting low-income parents and engaging them in their children’s education. An influential longitudinal study of CPC alumni shows that the model produced substantial increases in both academic achievement and economic returns to society from higher earnings, reduced involvement in crime and better health.