Early Education in the News

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 13, 2015

Reducing crime and violence is a two-front battle. As St. Clair County state’s attorney and chief of police in Belleville, we specialize in the part of the battle that the public is most familiar with — taking criminals off the street, and fighting for justice for victims of crime.

But another part of the battle is fought in after-school programs, in preschool classrooms, and in child care centers by people who specialize in helping kids grow up to be law-abiding, productive adults.Research shows that early learning programs are one of the most effective crime-fighting tools we have. Decades-long studies have demonstrated that children who participate in high-quality preschool are much less likely to have been arrested in their late teens and 20s when compared to similar kids who did not attend the program. Because of these powerful results, we must invest in Illinois’ preschool program. Years of cuts have seen a loss of 21,000 children from state-funded preschool, but we have a chance to turn that around. Boosting those efforts by $50 million would help Illinois leverage important federal-grant dollars and focus intensive help on some of the state’s highest-need kids.

May 13, 2015

As governors with different political ideologies, we are committed to governing successfully by working with leaders from all parties and constituents of all backgrounds. We also know that when we develop policies based on solid evidence and the real needs of the citizens of our states, we can come to bipartisan agreement on important issues. One policy issue that should unite us all is quality early childhood education.

We have a unique opportunity to have a profound impact on the lives of our youngest children. Republicans, Democrats and Independents agree that smart investments in high-quality early childhood education can lead to impressive academic, health and economic returns, particularly for children from low-income backgrounds. State leaders from across the country, including Alabama and West Virginia, have prioritized investments in initiatives supporting quality early childhood education. Now it’s time for other states to join that effort.

May 13, 2015

Children enrolled in the First Class Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Program are getting the best head start for school in the country. For the ninth year in a row, the program came out on top according to a new study.
Alabama is one of only four states to meet all 10 benchmarks according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. “A strong economic future is grounded in high quality education, and Alabama’s First Class Pre-K Program provides a great foundation for students to prepare for success in life,” said Governor Robert Bentley.  

The Davis Enterprise
May 13, 2015

Disparities in access to early learning opportunities have increased, with some states enrolling nearly all children in their pre-kindergarten programs and others not offering any services, according to a national study on early education released Monday. “It matters even more what ZIP code you live in,” said Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, which conducts the annual review on the state of pre-K.

Early education is widely recognized as an important component to helping ensure children from all backgrounds enter school ready to learn. The Obama administration has made it a centerpiece of its education policy, with the president announcing $1 billion in public-private spending on programs for young learners last year.

(In the Davis school district, ttransitional kindergarten classes are offered at Korematsu, Montgomery and Patwin elementary schools; this year, 93 students are enrolled. Transitional kindergarten classes run three hours and 20 minutes a day, similar to regular kindergarten.)

Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise
May 12, 2015

Oklahoma’s prekindergarten enrollment continues to be among the highest in the nation, according to a study released Monday.

The National Institute for Early Education Research conducted the annual review, which found that Oklahoma served 76 percent of 4-year-olds during the 2013-14 school year, compared to 29 percent nationally. . .

Oklahoma, according to the report, spent nearly $150 million on prekindergarten programs, or $3,671 per student, which ranked 26th. The state ranked eighth, however, in all reported spending per child enrolled, which includes additional funding from federal or local sources.

May 12, 2015

The number of children enrolled in Washington state programs that provide preschool for low-income kids remains too low, a new report released Monday says.

The state ranks 33rd in the nation for access to state preschool for 4-year-olds, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research, which conducts an annual review of preschool programs.

Washington state has made an effort to improve the quality of preschool for low-income kids, and the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program saw an increase in 2014 of 350 students to just over 10,000 children across the state.

The CT Mirror
May 12, 2015

“Let’s commit Connecticut to achieving universal pre-kindergarten,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told legislators during his State of the State speech last year.

Legislators agreed, and celebrated when the Democratic governor signed into law a legislative plan to spend $15 million more this fiscal year and $20 million more each year afterward until 2024 to drastically expand preschool enrollment in public schools. The legislature also funded the first year of a separate Malloy plan to add 1,020 preschool seats this year. The governor hoped the program would eventually be extended to add another 3,000 seats over the next four years.

And then reality hit. . .

The state on Monday awarded districts $1.6 million of the $15 million available — and no more is expected to be given out before the fiscal year ends in seven weeks.

Vermont Public Radio
May 12, 2015

Each year, the National Institute for Early Education Research, or NIEER, publishes a profile of every state. With its plan for universal access to pre-K, Vermont is second only to the District of Columbia.

Yet it ranks only 20th when it comes to state spending on preschool. And it gets low marks for setting quality standards.

Institute Director Steve Barnett admits Vermont’s emerging preschool system may be better and more adequately funded than the report suggests, because so many of its programs are private, not public. The report can only measure state spending and mandates, not programs under local control.

“Well, our report is a very blunt instrument,” Barnett conceded. “We don’t even look at quality; we look at quality standards. And in a local control state, states tend not to look good, so Vermont only meets four out of the 10 benchmarks. But the reality is, if you went and looked at programs in Vermont … many of them do meet these standards.”

The Spokesman-Review
May 12, 2015

Idaho’s pre-K enrollment numbers rank among the nation’s lowest, reports Idaho Education News, lagging even in comparison to the handful of other states that have no state-funded preschool. EdNews reporter Kevin Richert writes that a new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research found that in Idaho, only 1,569 of the state’s 3-year-olds were enrolled in Head Start, special ed or other publicly funded education programs; that’s 6.8 percent, the lowest percentage in the nation. For 4-year-olds, Idaho hit 12.9 percent, ranking third-lowest, ahead of Utah and Wyoming.

May 12, 2015

Iowa's state-funded pre-kindergarten program ranks eighth among the 50 states in accessibility but 32nd in spending per child, according to a Rutgers University report.

The annual report by Rutgers' nonpartisan National Institute for Early Education Research says state funding for pre-K programs, when adjusted for inflation, increased nationwide by nearly $120 million in 2013-2014.

May 12, 2015

About 32,000 children from low income families in Oregon don’t have access to the state’s preschool program, a national report that was released on Tuesday shows.

The “State of Preschool” report by the National Institute of Early Education Research underlines positive and negative elements to Oregon’s preschool program.

The report shows that Oregon needs to ensure children from low-income families have access to publicly funded preschool.

Idaho-Press Tribune
May 12, 2015

daho’s pre-K enrollment numbers rank among the nation’s lowest — and even lag in comparison to the handful of other states that have no state-funded pre-K.

Those findings come from the National Institute for Early Education Research, a New Brunswick, N.J.-based organization focused on pre-K. . .

daho’s enrollment for 4-year-olds did not just rank No. 49 among all 50 states and the District of Columbia; it also ranked eighth among the states without a statewide pre-K program. And Idaho could remain mired at or near the bottom of the national rankings, at least for the foreseeable future. While pre-K pilot bills have failed to get out of Idaho’s House Education Committee the past two sessions, other states have launched or expanded pre-K programs. This leaves Idaho one of only six states without a pre-K program.

Investing In Kids
May 12, 2015

The latest edition of “The State of Preschool-2014” was released on May 10, 2015 by the National Institute for Early Education Research. This annual release of data and analysis has become essential to understanding what is going on with publicly-funded pre-K in the United States.

Using this latest edition, in this post I analyze funding for age-4 pre-K, and compare current funding to what would be needed to ensure adequate quality for pre-K for all age-4 participants, and what would be needed to ensure both adequate quality and adequate access to pre-K for all age-4 children in the United States.

May 12, 2015

A report from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) released Monday analyzes children's access to preschool in all 50 states. The report found that preschool enrollment is growing overall, but there are large gaps across state lines, whether or not the state is red or blue. According to the Washington Post, though expanding access to public preschool has been a key goal for the Obama administration, the gap in preschool enrollment isn't affected by partisanship. Red states, such as Oklahoma and Texas, actually have some of the highest percentage of children in public preschool, with more than 40 percent of four-year-olds enrolled, according to the report.

Fox 6 WBRC
May 12, 2015

The top Pre-K program in the nation is right here in Alabama! For the ninth year, the National Institute for Early Education Research has named Alabama's program number one. Officials do say that although it is rated the best, more could be done to improve it. Alabama is one of only five states in the country to meet or exceed all of the benchmarks set by the National Institute for Early Education, but only 13 percent of 4-years-olds currently have access to the state program because of limited funding.

Chalkbeat Colorado
May 12, 2015

While state funding for the Colorado Preschool Program increased a bit last year, Colorado didn’t improve on measures of preschool quality or access, according to an annual ranking published by the National Institute for Early Education Research or NIEER. Among the quality benchmarks Colorado failed to meet is one that would require early childhood teachers to have a bachelor’s degree and a second that would require assistant teachers to have a Child Development Associate. A decade ago, Colorado achieved only four benchmarks on the quality checklist.

May 11, 2015

Are you a glass half-full kind of person? Or glass half-empty?

Depending on your answer, you'll find the new report on state-funded preschool programs from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University either delightfully encouraging or downright depressing.

For example, glass half-full: Pre-K enrollment is up!

Glass half-empty: It's still pretty low.

Twenty-nine percent of the nation's 4-year-olds were in state-funded preschool last year. Sure, that doesn't include all the kids enrolled in federally-funded Head Start. But, even when you lump them all together, NIEER director Steve Barnett says less than 40 percent are enrolled in any kind of public preschool.

For you glass half-full folks, spending in the 2013-2014 school year was also up.

For the rest of you, Barnett says "we're still a thousand dollars per child below where we were a decade ago." Thanks, Great Recession.

Huffington Post
May 11, 2015

The number of children enrolled in state-funded preschool programs increased modestly during the 2013-14 school year, even as states still struggle to return to pre-recession levels of funding, says a new report.

The National Institute for Early Education Research report, which was released Monday and analyzes the preschool landscape in all 50 states, reveals that preschool enrollment is growing -- but it is doing so at a tortoise's pace. Furthermore, there are still many places around the country with deep pockets of inequality, where kids are severely underserved.

"There have been some great improvements," NIEER Director Steve Barnett told The Huffington Post. "But it matters more than ever what ZIP code you live in."

May 11, 2015

 The National Institute for Early Childhood Research published a study showing that while the number of children registered for preschool has grown, still far from the desired figures.

"It would take 75 years to cover this growth rate is even 50% of children between three and four years, that is, we are far from achieving universal coverage," said Milagros Nores, a member of the Institute.

According to the report, last year only 29% of four year olds were enrolled in preschool programs supported by their home states. In addition, about half a million did not receive proper education as many of these programs do not meet the requirements that guarantee their quality.

The preschool also represents financial outlays that not all families can afford. "Prices are high so it is very difficult for many of our families pay the costs," said the teacher Rosalba Bonilla before stressing the benefits.

Las Vegas Review Journal
May 11, 2015

Bucking a national trend of states increasing their investment for pre-kindergarten programs, Nevada continued to lose ground in its percentage of children enrolled and per-child spending in early childhood education.

A new study from the National Institute for Early Education Research found Nevada fell one position to 37th among 41 states for its level of access to quality early childhood education.

Only 3.8 percent of 4-year-olds in Nevada were enrolled in pre-K last year, according to the report. Nevada serves no 3-year-olds.

Currently, Nevada spends just $2,383 per child enrolled in a preschool program, according to the study. That’s nearly $2,000 less than the state spent in 2004 and the lowest level of spending on record.