Early Education in the News

New Hampshire Union Leader
August 14, 2015

Hillary’s record speaks for itself. As first lady of Arkansas, she helped establish the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program to promote early childhood education. This program now operates in 21 states and in Washington, D.C. While President Clinton was in office, Hillary helped establish the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a program that expanded health coverage to millions of uninsured children, known in New Hampshire as the Healthy Kids program. And when Hillary was in the Senate, she joined efforts to extend child care benefits for the children of parents who died serving in the military.

But it isn’t just about what Hillary’s done. It’s about what she is going to do. Hillary understands that strengthening and expanding access to early childhood education sets our children up for success. Right now, only half of three and four year-old children in America are enrolled in pre-kindergarten education. That’s why Hillary is pushing for universal pre-K — a call she first made here in New Hampshire — for all children by the age of four, a move that will strengthen our families and communities and give every child a head start in lifelong educational achievement. 

August 13, 2015

Twice as many children in Oregon now qualify for publicly funded preschool beginning in the fall of 2016. This is due to House Bill 3380 signed by Gov. Kate Brown in July providing $27 million to expand access to preschool. The bill provides funding for children from families with incomes at or below 200 percent of the poverty level. In 2013, the federal poverty level was $23,624 for a family with two adults and two children, and in Oregon that included about 54.7 percent of children in Oregon, according to the American Community Survey.

The Washington Post
August 13, 2015

Save the Children, the century-old child-welfare organization, has spun off a new political arm that is crusading to make early-childhood education a top-tier issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) is running a multi-pronged strategy in the early-

voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina designed to convince candidates from both parties that preschool is a winning issue among swing voters.

Mark Shriver, SCAN’s president, formed the 501c(4) organization last year to “turn up the heat” on legislators and policymakers.

Bloomberg Business
August 12, 2015

With the job market improving and the millennial generation born after 1980 reaching its prime child-bearing years, demand for daycare will probably continue to outstrip supply, driving costs up faster than overall inflation. That could have wide-ranging economic repercussions, including limiting consumers’ ability to spend on other goods and services and, in the extreme, preventing some parents from joining the workforce. . .

Childcare providers are finding it difficult to keep up as scant public funding and more expensive food and rent propel costs. That crimps their ability to hire staff, with payrolls in the industry rising 3.7 percent since the start of the expansion in June 2009, compared with an 8.5 percent gain for all employers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

August 12, 2015

Mayoral candidate Linda Tyer is calling for the creation of a new model to provide preschool programming.

The candidate held a press conference at her East Street headquarters on Tuesday to discuss her plans to service the nearly 900 pupils who are not enrolled in early education programs. She said she wants to expand the capacity of care providers both in the private sector and in the public schools.

Bellevue Reporter
August 11, 2015

The Bellevue School District has received funding for an additional 60 state-funded preschool slots for the 2015-2016 school year for low-income children. The district was awarded 60 ECEAP preschool slots for low-income 4 year olds, as well as receiving funding for 151 Head Start and 20 Bellevue School Foundation funded slots.

Altogether, 231 low-income 3 and 4-year olds will be able to attend preschool in Bellevue this fall, tuition-free. It is a 26 percent increase over last year, in which there were just 171 tuition-free spots in the district. Twenty of hose spots were ECEAP-funded, and 151 received federal Head Start funding. A full (school)day program in a Bellevue School District preschool is $860 per month. An extended day program ranges from $1,130 to $1,150 per month.

“Achievement gaps start early, and although nationally and locally pre-kindergarten enrollment has been growing recently, low-income children participate at lower rates than children from higher-income families,” said Duitch. “High quality, public provided preschool education has been found to produce improved knowledge and skills. The effects tend to be largest for children at the lowest income levels.”

August 11, 2015

If the state's top education board approves, Louisiana's preschools will soon receive more public money for low-income children. Their parents would no longer have to worry about children being removed from a day care center at mid-year because of changes in income, and the most impoverished eligible parents would no longer have to pay for child care.

The changes, which the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will consider this week, are welcomed by child-care providers who have long clamored for more state funding in the wake of tougher academic requirements. Too, parents struggling to pay rising day care costs will likely herald the moves.

The Seattle Times
August 10, 2015

Preschools typically leave math for grade school, in the belief that 4- and 5-year-olds aren’t old enough to understand what 7 stands for. Decades of brain science now show that waiting is a mistake.

Even in the crib, ­research shows, infants can tell the difference between eight dots and 16 using an innate “number sense” we share with other species that helps us make some size ­comparisons without counting. By the time they are preschool age, students such as the ones in Alfonzo’s class can grasp simple addition — three beads plus four beads makes seven beads — even if they can’t yet write the equations.

They’re getting a strong start in math with games and playful activities that show all the ways they can use numbers and shapes to describe and measure differences and relationships between things.

Washington Monthly
August 10, 2015

Long relegated to the back bench of “mommy issues,” child care may finally get its chance on the national policy stage.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has made child care access a signature plank of her nascent agenda, urging middle class tax cuts to make child care more affordable and endorsing universal preschool. The Washington Post also recently devoted rare front-page space and a poll to this topic, finding that more than half of all parents (including three-quarters of moms and half of dads) have passed up job opportunities or even switched careers to help take care of their children.

Surveys show that millennial workers especially treasure work-life balance. And as more of the oldest members of this cohort - now entering their mid-thirties - become parents, child care access and affordability will increasingly become a concern.

These are all welcome developments for those of us who’ve long believed that child care is a universal economic concern - not just for mothers, but for fathers, grandparents, non-parents and employers, regardless of income or education. The cost and quality of child care have enormous impacts not just on parents’ career choices, but on a family’s quality of life, the productivity that employers see and - of course - the wellbeing and future success of a child. Nevertheless, policymakers have consistently treated child care as a niche-within-a-niche inside larger agendas around “women’s issues” or poverty.

August 10, 2015

As funding and interest in preschool grows, some education reformers say charter schools could be a model for providing early education programs.

In Washington, D.C., charter and traditional public schools have offered early childhood education for years. Innovative programs include Montessori, bilingual immersion programs for preschoolers and AppleTree, a charter school focusing on early childhood education. Preschool is optional for families in the District, and it’s also one of the most popular programs. About 40 percent of families on the charter waiting list are for pre-k 3 and 4 programs, according to data from DCPCSB.

Both sectors receive about $13,000 per preschool student each year. Overall, about 86 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in D.C. attend a publicly funded preschool program. But in some states, education laws prohibit charter schools from teaching preschoolers, Mead said.

The Washington Post
August 7, 2015

More than three-quarters of mothers and half of fathers in the United States say they’ve passed up work opportunities, switched jobs or quit to tend to their kids, according to a new Washington Post poll.

While it has long been clear that finding affordable, dependable child care is a daily challenge for parents of young children, the new poll provides rare data on the breadth of the problem and how it’s shaping careers for millions of American parents.

The poll also signals that the issue will figure in the 2016 presidential campaign, with about twice as many Americans saying Democrats would more reliably ensure access to child care than Republicans.

For many parents, scaling back at the office has become a necessity when the cost of child care strains even a middle-class salary. Roughly three-quarters of parents with children younger than 18 say care is expensive in their area, The Post’s poll shows, and a little more than half say it’s hard to find.

August 6, 2015

New research links storytelling ability among African-American preschoolers and the development of kindergarten reading skills.

“Previous research found an association between oral narratives and literacy at later stages of development,” says study leader Nicole Gardner-Neblett of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “But our findings suggest how important storytelling is for African-American children at the earliest stages.”

Gardner-Neblett explains that oral narrative skills emerge as early as age two and continue to develop as children engage in interactions with parents and others, who provide guidance and feedback. Although experts have suggested the importance of oral language skills on literacy during the preschool years, much of the research until now has focused on associations between early language and later reading outcomes in elementary school, leaving many unanswered questions.

Think Progress
August 6, 2015

Those who don’t have the opportunity to foster a literacy-friendly environment at home may have a chance to do so if lawmakers establish universal pre-kindergarten — an effort to make preschool available to all families, regardless of income level, location, or child’s abilities. The state-funded preschool programs would allow children from disadvantaged backgrounds to get the foundation needed to have a successful academic career.

The universal pre-K movement has gained traction around the country in recent years. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray unveiled plans for a four-year pilot program last month that would place more than 200 children in full-day preschool classes. Teachers in New York City’s universal pre-kindergarten program will receive $2,500 signing bonus and a $3,500 retention bonus as it goes into its second year.

Efforts to expand universal pre-kindergarten federally, however, have fizzled. Last year, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) introduced a proposal to fund universal early education, arguing that doing so would be an investment in America’s future. The bill, titled the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, hasn’t gone beyond introduction. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) also failed in his attempt to include an amendment to No Child Left Behind that would increase the number of children in universal pre-kindergarten programs via funds given directly to states and the closure of corporate tax inversion loopholes.

“When more children have access to pre-K, they actually can reach their full potential,” Gillibrand told NBC. “It means more working moms can stay in the workforce, providing for their children, staying on the path for their career success. And that’s good for our whole economy.”

Chalkbeat Indiana
August 5, 2015

The thousands of poor Indiana children who will attend new publicly funded preschool programs this year through Gov. Mike Pence’s state preschool pilot and an Indianapolis program sponsored by Mayor Greg Ballard all have one thing in common. They all must be legal U.S. residents.

Children who are in the country without permission aren’t welcome into either the state or Indianapolis preschool program. How can public schools be barred from excluding those kids while publicly funded preschool programs are free to do so? Indianapolis program leaders say they’re following the state’s lead. State officials say they’re following federal guidelines. And while federal law does, indeed, require schools to give all children fair and equal access to public education regardless of citizenship, the rule starts in kindergarten.

August 4, 2015

Black children represent about 18 percent of children in preschool programs, but they account for almost half of the preschoolers suspended more than once, according to a study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education.

"This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well documented among older students, but actually begin during preschool," then-Attorney General Eric Holder said upon the report's release. "Every data point represents a life impacted and a future potentially diverted or derailed."


The Atlantic
August 4, 2015

But many early-childhood teachers think about how to cultivate the next generation of “small-d democrats,” too. In my experience teaching children aged 3 through 6, I’ve found that early-childhood classrooms can serve as a natural cradle for democracy, as they’re typically where kids learn their first lessons about group membership. Young children are often fiercely curious about power and how it works: who makes the rules, and why. Qualitative evidence shows that children have the capacity to debate ideas, and to work together to solve problems that arise in the classroom (how many kids can play in the block area at a time, for example) and outside of it (how to improve a city park). What if young children had more opportunities to offer the general public some civics lessons of their own?

The country’s children continue to struggle with limited access to quality early-education opportunities: In the 2013-14 school year, just two in five 4-year-olds were in some sort of publicly funded prekindergarten, and many of those programs are considered low-quality, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Policymakers and children’s advocates have long debated the merits of pre-k, from its return on every dollar invested to whether it’s best to subsidize attendance for all kids or to just target low-income ones. But it seems that discussions in the U.S. seldom treat children as anything more than blank slates; they make little reference to these kids’ competencies and what they can offer as youngsters to society at large. For what it’s worth, the U.S. is the only United Nations country that hasn’t ratified a treaty of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which establishes that children should have the freedom of expression, among other rights, and says education should prepare children for “responsible life in a free society.”

The Hechinger Report
August 4, 2015

"It doesn't mean that Head Start is bad," or ineffective, said Michael Lopez, an early childhood expert at Abt Associates, a research firm that conducted some of the What Works Clearinghouse research as a sub-contractor. "My colleagues might shoot me. But I'm not sure everyone is in agreement that the only way to assess Head Start is through the most rigorous evaluations."

"We do know that there's a larger body of work that supports the benefits of early childhood education programs," he added, citing four other studies, including the famous Perry Preschool Study, which tracked students for 40 years after preschool. (The other three early childhood education studies were conducted in Chicago, Boston and Tulsa).

Lopez worked for the department in Health and Human Services that runs Head Start for 14 years, and he oversaw the research for Head Start. Indeed, he created and ran the 2010 Head Start Impact Study cited by the What Works Clearinghouse as the only Head Start study that met scientific rigor. "Of course, I was ecstatic that my report was recognized," he said. "But the bigger question is, what does this tell us?"

He explained that the What Works Clearinghouse seeks studies that resemble drug trials, where you randomly assign students to a treatment — in this case Head Start — and compare them to a control group that didn't get the treatment. Some researchers have refused to create a control group for ethical reasons. No one wants to ban a low-income family from giving their young children an education.

The Seattle Times
August 3, 2015

Preschools typically leave math for grade school, in the belief that 4- and 5-year-olds aren’t old enough to understand what 7 stands for. Decades of brain science now show that waiting is a mistake. . .

Even in the crib, research shows, infants can tell the difference between eight dots and 16 using an innate “number sense” we share with other species that helps us make some size comparisons without counting.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
August 3, 2015

I worried about all the wrong things when my children were in preschool.
I came to this realization after spending four months observing preschool teachers toil through a difficult year with a few hard-to-manage students.

Eight years ago, my husband and I were entrenched in raising preschoolers. The 0-to-6-year-old dogma was drilled into us: This is peak brain-development time. Their physical safety and health, their general happiness and academic progress consumed much of my attention during those preschool years.

The latest research, however, suggests it’s the soft skills of social and emotional development that are strongly correlated with long-term academic and life success.

Echo Press
July 31, 2015

As Congress continues to work on next year’s federal spending measures, they need to remember the most valuable resource for the future of the economy and the country – children. At this time, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved their FY 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending measures. This legislation provides annual funding for essential child care and early child development programs.

Neither of the current bills would end the sequester, nor would they provide new funding to expand access to more children in need. Both chambers have also proposed big cuts to important health and education programs, and eliminated certain programs including Preschool Development Grants. These cuts impact America’s most vulnerable children, putting them at an even greater disadvantage to succeed. As it stands, many children could lose access to these programs if Congress does not restore funding before completing a final bill.