Early Education in the News
Shaking hands and kissing babies. It’s the old stereotype of a political campaign. Now that several candidates have thrown their hats in the ring for the 2016 presidential race, we can expect to see a lot more of both in the next 18 months. But this time around, we should expect candidates to do more than kiss the babies.
Parents, policymakers and the public increasingly recognize the importance of early childhood education.Research documenting the crucial role of early language, social-emotional and cognitive development for children’s later learning has become widely known. High-quality pre-K programs in Boston, New Jersey and Oklahoma have demonstrated the potential of early interventions to produce lasting changes in children’s outcomes. There is also increasing recognition of the strains that working families are under as they seek to balance work and family obligations and obtain adequate care for their children. These are all potential reasons for candidates to pay attention to early childhood education.
It’s budget time for the state – a good opportunity to review North Carolina’s history of early childhood investments.
Investing in strategies that focus on children from birth to age eight is the most effective and cost-efficient means to improve third grade outcomes and long-term success for children and the state. For optimal development and a strong foundation, children need good health, strong families and high quality early learning and school experiences. With quality early child development experiences, children are school ready, graduate from high school and grow into productive citizens and valuable employees.
After a 45-minute debate sprinkled with references to TV mom June Cleaver and "cradle-to-grave socialism," House lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday to provide state funding for early childhood education, with half of the funding the Senate had approved.
House lawmakers voted 51-40 to approve Senate Bill 2151. The bill now goes back to the Senate, which can either concur with the House changes or request a conference committee to work out difference between the two versions.
The bill approved by the Senate 33-14 in February set aside $6 million for grants to public and private providers to help cover the cost of preschool for an estimated 6,000 children in 2016-17.
A few weeks after the expiration of a growing federal program that invests in home visitation programs, Congress last night approved a two-year extension that keeps it going through fiscal 2017.
The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) will receive $400 million per year in fiscals 2016 and 2017, the same annual appropriation it received for the past two years.
“Congress is making an important investment to transform communities by investing in what we know works to change outcomes for children born into poverty,” said Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) National Office CEO Roxane White, whose organization oversees one of 17 federally approved models of home visitation.
On a day when Gov. Mark Dayton returned to a classroom to push his plan for universal preschool for four-year-olds, Republicans in the Minnesota House released an education bill that takes a much different approach. Ignoring Dayton's $348 million funding proposal for universal pre-K, the GOP bill would boost spending on scholarships by $30 million to allow parents to avoid school-based programs by using state money to send their children to other preschools or church schools. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have proposed a bill that does provide money for universal pre-K, but less than one fifth of what Dayton requested.
Today, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered remarks at a HELP Committee Executive Session to markup the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, the bipartisan compromise she reached with Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to rewrite the broken No Child Left Behind law. . .
“I’ve also been very focused on expanding access to early childhood education, so more students start kindergarten ready to learn. As a former preschool teacher, I’ve seen firsthand the kind of transformation that early learning can inspire in a child. I’m glad that our deal clarifies that funding for various programs can be used for early education. But I don’t think the Chairman’s mark goes far enough. So I also plan to offer a bipartisan amendment to provide grants to states to build on the programs that already exist. This amendment will allow states to better coordinate their early learning programs, increase quality of these programs, and ensure that more children have access to them. And I am hopeful that it can pass with strong bipartisan support."
The Alabama Senate on Tuesday approved a nearly $6 billion education budget that steers more money to the state’s pre-kindergarten program. Senators approved the Education Trust Fund budget on a 33-0 vote. The spending plan gives modest increases to some state programs but does not provide for a teacher pay raise. It also does not provide a fiscal lifeline that some policy makers wanted to throw to the state’s more troubled budget, the General Fund. The budget provides an additional $13.5 million to Alabama’s often praised pre-kindergarten program. The additional funds are projected to let another 2,600 4-year-olds attend the preschool program.
Governor Tom Wolf today announced key next steps to further his administration's goal of expanding quality Pre-K education for families and children across the commonwealth. The Wolf Administration, through the PA Department of Education (PDE), is accepting applications for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program grants.
"Pennsylvania's publicly funded Pre-K and early education programs provide the foundation children need to enter school ready to learn," said Governor Wolf. "I'm excited to announce this historic expansion. We are taking proactive steps to ensure that more students have access to high-quality early education options."
PDE is issuing two Requests for Proposals today to support providers' ability to serve children and be ready for enrollment by September 2015. The administration recognizes that providers need to conduct outreach to families; recruit, hire and train staff; and plan for successful implementation of the programs upon approval of proposed funding.
Illinois received 20 million dollars from the federal government for expanding access to early childhood education. Illinois currently enrolls just over a quarter of its 4 year olds in state-funded preschool for low-income families.
Reyna Hernandez of the Illinois State Board of Education says it's hoping to expand that number with Governor Bruce Rauner's proposed increase of 25 million dollars to early childhood education.
U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Rep. Bruce Westerman have announced a $3.2 million grant to an early childhood education program in south Arkansas.
The grant announced Monday by the three Republicans goes to Families and Children Together, Inc. to provide early childhood and preschool services to children and families in Calhoun, Columbia, Dallas, Ouachita and Union Counties
Lawmakers will have some “very difficult decisions” to make, Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis said, with an estimated $6 billion budget deficit and more than $110 billion in unfunded pension obligations serving as the backdrop.
But early childhood funding should be the priority, he said.
"Right now, the state's looking at ways to reduce the prison population. But we've come to realize is that ... if you keep them out of the system in the first place, it's the best investment there ever is," Weis said. "It's difficult for people to see that because you have to invest now for something that you won't see for 15, 20 years."
Fifteen years after the start of court-ordered universal preschool for New Jersey’s most impoverished cities, early childhood education for the state’s poorest children is getting a boost this spring with the help of both public and private money. The public funding is coming by way of a $66 million federal grant that is enabling the state to expand, at least in part, the programs now in 31 districts under the Abbott v. Burke rulings into another nearly 20 communities -- the first major expansion of the program in a decade. . .
But a smaller sum coming from a new private group may be just as important. Pre-K Our Way is leading a campaign to pressure the state’s politicians to provide the money to significantly expand preschool into many more districts.
During Tuesday's Senate education committee markup of the bipartisan Elementary and Secondary Education Act rewrite, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the ranking member and co-author of the bill, will offer an amendment to strengthen early-childhood education—and it looks like she has the Republican support needed to do so.
The amendment would create a competitive-grant program to provide funding for states that propose to improve coordination, quality, and access for early-childhood education. States would apply for three-year grants and provide matching funds to support "sustainable improvements and better coordination" of their early-learning and care systems.
This morning, the Mark Taper Auditorium at the Los Angeles Central Library was filled with over 100 patrons, comprising local parents, early childhood education stakeholders and policymakers, who gathered together to witness and engage in the launch of LAUP’s Clinton Global Initiative America Commitment to Action: a vocabulary-building campaign called Take Time. Talk! Giving Children the Words They Need.
“Take Time. Talk!” aims to close the 30-million word gap that exists between children of the low- and high-income families, by teaching parents and caregivers how to engage their children in positive, open-ended conversations, whether at the grocery store, enjoying a meal, bath time—or a variety of settings.
As referenced by LAUP’s CEO Celia C. Ayala in her opening remarks, LAUP is just one of many organizations across the country who has launched a campaign in order to combat this widely-acknowledged “word gap.” With New York, rolling out its "Talk to Your Baby" public awareness campaign last week, Too Small to Fail’s recent unveiling of their “Talking is Teaching” campaign, the launch of LAUP’s tool widens this national conversation, establishing roots in Los Angeles.
Minnesota may be on the verge of closing one of its biggest opportunity gaps, if lawmakers can find a compromise for expanding state-funded preschool. Gov. Mark Dayton and his Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party colleagues proposed spending $343 million in the next two-year budget to provide universal access to preschool. Republicans called that plan too expensive, but some GOP lawmakers back a smaller plan to expand preschool scholarships that needy families can use at programs they choose. Dayton continues to call early-childhood education a top priority of this legislative session and his second term as governor. The goal is universal preschool, but Dayton said he wants to find middle ground with Republicans. . .
Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, said given Minnesota’s commitment to strong public schools, he is surprised the state serves so few preschoolers. “Minnesota really stands out as a state with good government that’s really made no progress at all,” Barnett said.
One of the fundamental values that Idahoans hold dear is that all people, especially our children, deserve a fair chance to achieve the American dream. The trouble is that value is not a reality for too many of our children. Only 54 percent of Idaho children have the reading skills needed to begin learning when they enter kindergarten. This is akin to a road race where half of the runners are lined up at the starting gate and the other half are starting from a mile back. The chances of the half not ready for kindergarten ever catching up with their peers is statistically low and the future for many of them is not very bright. Kids who are not ready to learn are more likely to struggle in math and reading, drop out of school and end up on social services or in the criminal justice system. The probability is increased that they will not go to college and obtain a good family-wage job. It doesn’t have to be this way.
A bill in the Oregon House Committee on Education would lay the foundation for what supporters say is a crucial building block of the state's education strategy: a comprehensive, high-quality Oregon preschool program.
House Bill 3380, which is scheduled for a public hearing at 1 p.m. Friday, seeks $30 million to establish a blueprint for a statewide preschool program in which public and private providers would offer full-day preschool, ensure kindergarten readiness, hire lead teachers who have at least a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, and pay lead teachers comparably to nearby kindergarten teachers. Preschool providers would also have to meet requirements for high-level ratings from the state's in-progress Quality Rating and Improvement System for child care providers.
Minnesota has become a hotbed for preschool innovation, with more than $44 million in federal grants and several closely-watched pilot projects. Preliminary evaluations of Parent Aware’s four pilot sites show that highly rated day cares and preschools can improve children’s language, social and pre-math skills — and that the gains are even larger for children from low-income families.
But a new report covering Parent Aware’s rollout since 2012 shows that most parents still don’t use it and most child care providers still haven’t volunteered to be rated. Of Minnesota’s roughly 12,000 licensed child-care centers and homes, just 1,900 have been rated by the four-star system.
Observers say the current effort by Alexander and Murray stands the best chance in years. The Senate education committee is scheduled to take up the bipartisan proposal April 14, and Alexander hopes to bring it to the full Senate for a vote before Memorial Day. Efforts to pass a bill in the House are less clear; a GOP bill was passed by committee on a party line vote but the legislation was pulled off the House floor mid-debate in February after complaints by conservatives that it didn’t go far enough to scale back federal oversight of schools.
Duncan was generally positive about the Alexander-Murray bill but said the Obama administration wants a final law to expand early childhood education and to place stronger demands on states to improve their worst-performing schools, among other things.
“The goal is not just to acknowledge a problem, to identify a problem, but to do something about it,” Duncan said. “One of the things we’ve done at the federal level is to challenge states and districts to take on the lowest-performing schools. The fact that the high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, the fact that African American dropout rates have been cut by 45 percent and Latino dropout rates have been cut by half, that would not have happened” without pressure from the federal government.
The Republican-controlled Senate today gave preliminary approval to the state’s main budget bill. The GOP majority allowed only a few technical amendments and resisted attempts by Democrats to add additional funding or programs to House Bill 2. This includes a Bullock Administration proposal to fund early childhood education.
The proposal sought to add $37 million in the coming biennium for early childhood education. Governor Steve Bullock calls the initiative Early Edge.