Early Education in the News

NJ Spotlight
September 22, 2015

State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), the chair of the Senate committee, flipped through the student work in wonder.

“Of all the testimony we have received today,” she said. “If anybody needs the proof, in New Jersey we have the evidence, and it is our responsibility to step up our game and find the investment. This is extraordinary.”

Ruiz had called for the hearing, saying she wanted to jumpstart the discussion on bringing universal preschool to the state, expanding on the successful court-ordered program now serving the state’s most impoverished districts with two years of full-day programs.

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Also on the table, Ruiz said, were other early-childhood services, including those that come before pre-K, and building out full-day kindergarten so that it is in every district. State officials said about 85 percent of districts have full-day, the rest half-day.

The line-up of guests included many of the state’s top advocates on the issue, including state Early Childhood Director Ellen Wolock, all the main education organizations, leaders of individual child centers and United Way programs, and the top researcher from Rutgers’ National Institute for Early Education Research.

“I am pleased to be in a state that has made substantial progress in providing high-quality preschool,” said Steve Barnett, NIEER’s executive director. “New Jersey already has a proven approach.”

Barnett argued that high-quality preschool across the state would save $850 million a year in K-12 costs in terms of remediation and special education.

Reno Gazette-Journal
September 21, 2015

Not much has changed in the past dozen years. It's been half days and flat funding, forcing Nevada school districts to fight over $3.3 million in grants each year to reach only 1,400 students in a few schools. That's just 1.5 percent of the state's 4-year-olds.

But that's changing. Nevada pre-school funding is tripling this year, reflecting a trend taking shape in American public education: Preschool is shedding its prefix, quickly becoming just another part of "school."

Yakima Herald Op-Ed
September 21, 2015

Can Yakima students improve achievement?

“With landmark investments this year, Washington is poised to be a world leader in early learning.” In the same section of the newspaper, this was followed later by “Washington ranks 33rd in the nation for access to state preschool for low-income 4-year-olds, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research which conducts an annual review of preschool programs.” The NIEER review for 2013-14 indicates less than 20 percent of Washington’s 4-year-olds are enrolled in pre-K. To me, this indicates Washington’s education infrastructure is as poor as our transportation infrastructure. We are not going to be even a national leader in early learning until the attitudes of the public and Legislature change.

Business leaders considering where to locate their businesses look at the quality of education in states and communities. If it takes a tax increase to give our children the quality pre-K every child deserves, so be it. The future of our city and state will be much brighter if we do.

New York State
September 21, 2015

Governor Cuomo announced that $30 million has been awarded to 34 high-need school districts to increase access to high-quality pre-kindergarten for a total of 3,295 students in communities across the state. The funding, which was originally committed by Governor Cuomo in his 2015 Opportunity Agenda, supports the expansion of pre-k for both 3- and 4-year old students for the first time in more than a decade. This combined approach is part of the State’s ongoing efforts to promote early education, specifically in high-needs districts where such programs can be most beneficial in increasing academic outcomes for students.

“Access to a quality education from a young age can unlock a student’s potential and put them on a path to success years into the future,” said Governor Cuomo. “That’s what this funding is all about – it’s an investment in the future of thousands of children across the state, and I am proud that we are able to help those students begin learning early on.”

NJ Spotlight
September 18, 2015

The idea of universal preschool will get some new political attention next week, when a state Senate committee starts tackling the topic – and, in particular, the difficult question of how to fund such programs.

The Senate education committee will hold a hearing Monday with advocates and educators to start hashing out the long-debated issue, with the Legislature’s Democratic leadership saying there will ultimately be some initiatives to expand early childhood education.

Education Week
September 18, 2015

The California legislature passed what could be landmark preschool legislation last week, when it sent a bill to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown that would expand the state's preschool program to all of its low-income 4-year-olds.

California's preschool program isn't new. It's been around for 50 years, said state Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, a Democrat and sponsor of the preschool bill. But funding for the program has rarely, if ever, been sufficient to enroll all of the children who qualify to attend it. And there's never been a statute requiring state leaders to at least try to make enough funding available to serve all eligible children, McCarty said. Brown has not yet indicated publicly whether or not he intends to sign this bill.

Were the bipartisan legislation to become law, as many as 81,732 additional 4-year-olds would merit a free or heavily subsidized preschool spot, state education officials said by email. 

MMC News
September 16, 2015

A new federally funded early education program will allow five large cities in Massachusetts to open all-day preschool classrooms. The money will fund the Massachusetts Preschool Expansion Grant program, which will bring together local public schools with community-based early educations programs. The cities will receive a combined total of more than $14 million this year to set up 45 new classrooms, according to a statement from the state Department of Early Education and Care.

U.S. Department of Education
September 16, 2015

The “Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs,” released jointly by the Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) on September 14, 2015, states that all young children with disabilities should have access to inclusive high-quality early childhood programs, where they are provided with individualized and appropriate support in meeting high expectations.

Children with disabilities and their families continue to face significant barriers to accessing inclusive high-quality early childhood programs, and too many preschool children with disabilities are only offered the option of receiving special education services in settings separate from their peers without disabilities.

September 16, 2015

Who: As a Bright Spot, LAUP will be part of a national online catalog that includes over 230 programs that invest in key education priorities for Hispanics.

What: The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (WHIEEH) announced LAUP as part of its online catalog of Bright Spots organizations. The catalog includes more than 230 national programs.

Why: The Initiative seeks to leverage these Bright Spots to encourage collaboration between stakeholders focused on similar issues in sharing data-driven approaches, promising practices, peer advice, and effective partnerships, ultimately resulting in increased support for the educational attainment of the Hispanic community, from cradle-to-career. . .

LAUP's CEO, Celia C. Ayala, attended the press conference. "Since LAUP's inception 10 years ago, we have been dedicated to serving all families, including our large population of Hispanic families, with quality early care and education for their young children in Los Angeles County," Ayala said. "LAUP is thrilled to be a part of the national effort committed to Hispanic educational achievement, and is honored by this recognition as an exemplary program."

The Atlantic
September 15, 2015

Halley Potter, a fellow at the Century Foundation, said the program’s universality is essential to ensuring its survival, especially given the program’s lack of permanent funding. (New York State pledged to finance it only through 2019.) “The fact that this has been rolled out so quickly has been able to really motivate parents and families in the city to be advocates for universal pre-k,” Potter said. “I think that’s really valuable.”

Most importantly, she argues, is the underlying goal of fostering diversity. “One of the best things that we can do for [disadvantaged] children is to give them pre-school classes that have an economic mix of kids,” she said. “That is something that we know in K–12 education as well, that economically-mixed schools tend to have much stronger outcomes for students.”

Kansas City Star (Editorial)
September 15, 2015

The enthusiasm for universal pre-kindergarten was exceptionally high during Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s visit to Woodland Early Learning Center in Kansas City.

But Duncan, on the first stop Monday of a seven-state bus tour, explained that the millions of dollars the Obama administration wants for early childhood education is on the Republican chopping block in Congress.

That would take the country and President Barack Obama’s push for universal pre-kindergarten in the wrong direction. More funding, not less, is needed to make high quality preschool available for all 3- and 4-year-olds.

Duncan argues that early education programs lead to lower dropout rates, teen pregnancy and incarceration. They make children ready to enter kindergarten and give them a better chance at succeeding throughout school and becoming ready for college and careers.

September 15, 2015

The Pennsylvania Legislature is still working to get a budget on the books, and it's not alone. The federal budget is being fought over in Washington, and at least one senator said families in need of early education are getting caught in the cross-hairs. Study after study shows the benefits of early childhood education. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat said, despite having room, thousands of families are being left out.

Al Jazeera
September 15, 2015

A clear majority of Americans agree: high-quality preschool should be guaranteed by the public, just as our primary and secondary schools are. It’s an idea that Democrats are hoping to add to their legacy — something to stand along aside Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and the Earned Income Tax Credit as lasting institutions in American life. But it’s also a policy that even business-minded Republicans have reason to support. Not only does it provide a cost-effective educational intervention for our kids; it also gives their parents the freedom to participate in the job market.

On July 7, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced legislation to Congress proposing state-run pre-kindergarten programs that would be freely available to families earning less than $48,000 a year. Unfortunately, Casey’s bill, which was an amendment to No Child Left Behind, has stalled on Capitol Hill. However, at the state level, several Republican governors have already gotten behind their own proposals, creating bipartisan support for an issue whose time has come.

Imperial Valley News
September 14, 2015

Assembly Bill 47 relating to the expansion of the state preschool program passed the State Assembly and now heads to the Governor’s desk for approval. The Preschool For All bill would expand on last year’s commitment from the Governor and Legislature to expand state preschools for all low income families who do not have access to one year of state preschool or transitional kindergarten. AB 47 is being authored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty and co-authored by local Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella).

Online Athens
September 11, 2015

Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to spend $50 million to reverse cuts to Georgia’s pre-kindergarten program was good news for parents, teachers and the state’s 4-year-olds. The money will lower class sizes and increase teacher pay for the lottery-funded program. Deal said he plans to get the extra funding from a lottery reserve fund. The fund had roughly $350 million last year, after growing about $60 million a year the past three years. Deal previously opposed requests to tap the fund.

September 11, 2015

While most students headed back to school this week, a large portion of eligible youngsters were unable to because of an opportunity gap. Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey announced Thursday thousands of children are unable to attend much-needed Head Start and Early Head Start programs because of a lack of funding.

Data provided by Casey’s office revealed fewer than 10 percent of eligible Pennsylvania children up to 3 years old are able to attend the programs. In Washington County, roughly 31 percent of the eligible participants take advantage of Head Start and similar programs. In Greene County, only 42 percent of eligible participants take advantage of the programs available.

Head Start promotes school readiness of young children from low-income families through agencies in their local communities.

Huffington Post
September 11, 2015

Debate in early childhood education has largely shifted from the kindergarten to the pre-kindergarten. For a long time, programs for four-year-olds have resembled kindergartens of the past. Children are painting, playing with blocks, dressing up for make-believe, using sand and water tables, singing, and listening to stories. . .

Our review supports the idea that young children can benefit from literacy experiences, to learn letters and sounds, while they continue to play, pretend, draw, and sing. Keeping literacy out of the mix does not benefit children immediately or one year later.

The Hill (Op-Ed)
September 10, 2015

The desire by all voters to prioritize early childhood education is clear; it is not a topic that can be labeled as progressive or conservative. Fifty-nine percent of survey respondents said they would be more likely to support a presidential candidate who came out in favor of increased early childhood education spending. That figure cuts across partisan and demographic lines, with several critical voting subgroups asserting that this issue could define their vote. 

Voters believe the facts about early education, which accounts for this broad-based support. Investments in the early years lay the foundation for success in school, career and life. They pay dividends for society with higher literacy and graduation rates, reduced crime statistics and a more educated, better-prepared workforce. Moreover, expanding access to high-quality education for young kids is the most effective way to close the growing opportunity gap in our country. 

Daily News
September 10, 2015

Mayor de Blasio kicked off the school year Wednesday — marking the first time ever that every child who wanted to start pre-kindergarten was given a seat.

Some 65,504 4-year-olds are now enrolled in full day pre-K — up from about 50,000 last year and 20,000 before de Blasio took office with universal pre-K as the top item on his agenda.

September 10, 2015

Indiana's decision to close its state-funded preschool pilot program to 4-year-olds who are not legal U.S. residents has drawn national attention and raised sticky questions about the access of such children to education before they reach kindergarten.

The news organization Chalkbeat Indiana reported in August about the restriction on undocumented children, which Indiana officials say puts the program in line with rules governing other social service programs in the state. The preschool pilot is now in its first full year of operation.

"It would not be terribly surprising if there were calls in other states to limit access to this scarce resource," said Margie McHugh, the director of the Migration Policy Institute's National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. In that role, she focuses on educational quality and access. "Even though there's generally strong bipartisan support for expansion of pre-K services, the immigration conversation is such a hot-button one."