Early Education in the News

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.

Catalyst Chicago
October 22, 2015

In recent years, early education in Illinois has become more exacting, with a more highly trained workforce.

In 2013, the state won a four-year, $52.5 million grant through the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge that helped usher in new early learning standards that align with the more challenging K-12 Common Core State Standards and a new rating system that helps parents evaluate preschool quality.

Early childhood educators are being encouraged to obtain standardized credentials that show they’ve mastered important skills, and colleges and universities are increasingly recognizing their credentials — helping early educators move up the higher-education ladder more quickly.

And last year, Illinois won a federal preschool expansion grant — worth $20 million in the first year, with the potential for three more years at that level if the state comes through with its $128 million pledge. The state says this program would extend early childhood education to just under an additional 14,000 preschoolers.

September 29, 2015

The report by the New America Foundation focuses on whether California has the policies and rigorous teacher training to meet the "demands of a growing, more diverse population."

Currently, 53 percent of the state's infants and toddlers are Latino and almost half are low-income. For an early education teacher, this means a cookie-cutter approach to the first years of school is not likely the best one, according to the report.

The report, authored by Sarah Jackson, said a lot of work needs to be done to raise the quality of teaching and ensure California’s pre-K teachers are adequately trained given the changing demographics among students.

August 31, 2015

 The University of Mississippi School of Education is offering a new online master's degree in early childhood education. The Master of Education program is designed to prepare professional educators for a variety of roles within the field. . .

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, several studies show quality preschool programs can produce lasting gains in academic achievement, including gains in reading and mathematics. Studies also show an estimated $7 return on every $1 invested in public pre-K education in the form of long-term cost savings.

The 30-credit degree program includes a program track that leads to licensure from the Mississippi Department of Education. Coursework within the program will cover child development, theoretical foundations, educational research, the integration of arts and play in pre-K learning, contemporary issues and more.

August 26, 2015

Supporting early education and growth for at-risk children has been a focal point in Richmond in recent weeks. The subcommittee is examining several areas, including teacher pay and credentials, and class sizes. Rutgers University Director of the National Institute for Early Education W. Steven Barnett, says supporting children from lower-income families at the beginning of life can make a difference.

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.

July 28, 2015

"There's a disconnect between our 21st century knowledge about early childhood teaching and these 20th century wages," says Phillips. "We desperately need educated young people to be working with young children, but they look at this job and say, 'It's a pathway to poverty. I can't pay my student loans if I do this.' " . . .  "Policymakers and the business community are all now turning to early childhood education as one of the best investments we can make," says Phillips. "But if you don't pay adequate wages, you undermine the very thing that produces that value."

89.3 KPCC
June 24, 2015
The Los Angeles Unified school board blessed Superintendent Ramon Cortines' $8 billion spending plan Tuesday, funneling a $820 million increase in state funding next school year into teacher raises, maintenance and other programs cut during the recession.
As California's education budget grows to $53 billion, L.A Unified is one of many school districts using its share to shore up operations after years of recession-era cuts, among them layoffs of thousands of teachers, librarians and nurses from district schools...
But advocates chide the district for failing to seize the opportunity to seed new and improved services for the district's more than 500,000 high-needs students, those who are English learners, foster youth and children from low-income families...
The superintendent also oversaw negotiations with the teachers union and signed off on a 10 percent raise and large pension and healthcare packages. The cost of employing the district's more than 250,000 teachers is ratcheting up $124 million to more than $2 billion next year.
The Missoulian
May 8, 2015

As attention has been drawn to the importance of early childhood education at both the state and federal level, a new University of Montana program is set to help advance training for teachers and others in the field.

The Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s Master of Education in early childhood education is the only degree program of its kind in the state and focuses on children from birth to age 8, during which time they rapidly develop.

April 28, 2015

Gov. Steve Beshear, Toyota and United Way on April 24 announced the expansion of innovative early childhood academies to 36 more schools across the state. The initiative is funded by Kentucky’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge federal grant and Toyota’s manufacturing operations in Kentucky.

Tuscaloosa News
April 14, 2015

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.

March 29, 2015

 If Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has his way, all 4-year-olds will soon be going to school within their school districts, all day, every day. The creation of a universal pre-k system throughout the state would cost roughly $348 million and would be funded through the state’s surplus.

Although it’s questionable that the proposal would pass, given it is a Republican-controlled House right now, the goal is not likely to die even if it’s shot down this year. The idea behind this proposal would be to provide a free pre-school education to all 4-year-olds across the state, thereby attempting to even the playing field for all children heading into kindergarten, including those who currently do not receive a pre-school education.

Washington Post
February 16, 2015

You have probably heard about what is called the “word gap” found in many low-income children, who were found in a famous 1995 research study to be exposed to 30 million fewer words than their more fortunate peers by age 3, and that this deficit affects literacy development. The word gap has been cited by many experts as a key reason that at-risk children need focused literacy instruction. In this post, Elizabeth A. Gilbert explains that there is a related problem: Many  early childhood educators have the same problem. Gilbert is the coordinator of the “Learn at Work Early Childhood Educator Program Labor” in the Labor Management Workplace Education Center  at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Michigan Live
February 10, 2015

Principal Jenny Love said the school provides a high-quality, multi-tiered instruction system and interventions are matched to each students' needs. She said they monitor student progress constantly, evaluating data to identify assessment and intervention practices ranging from Tier 1 to 3, with third tier students receiving more intensive instruction in groups of no more than five. That approach and an instructional model designed to help students become thinkers coupled with literacy and math programs, is why the high-poverty school was named an Academic State Champ by Bridge Magazine Tuesday, Feb. 10. The building ranked No. 3 out of 1,208 Michigan elementary schools and one of the top 25 overachieving schools at No. 9. . .

Shannon Ayers, associate research professor for the National Institute for Early Education Research and Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes, said the focus primary education is receiving at the nation and state level will help make sure the foundation is there to provide the support for all children to be successful in elementary and middle and high school. She said several of the approaches to teaching and learning being employed by West Michigan's champs are proven to be effective strategies. "NIEER is working on a project implementing effective instruction guidelines for schools and teachers in New Jersey to think about including, Response to Intervention frameworks, differentiating instruction, student assessment, cross-content lessons and project-based learning."

The Denver Post Editorials
February 6, 2015

At the same time, I am deeply troubled about the way I pushed Josue and many other children. Early-childhood education studies suggest that hurrying kids to read doesn't really help them. As Defending the Early Years and the Alliance for Childhood put it in an elegantly simple report this month: "No research documents long-term gains from learning to read in kindergarten." And all the time spent discreetly drilling literacy skills to meet standards imposes a huge opportunity cost. It crowds out the one element in early-childhood classrooms proven to bolster learning outcomes over time: play. . . 

In a Preschool Policy Brief, the National Institute for Early Education Research expressed concerns about trends in early literacy assessment, including "the use of assessments that focus on a limited range of skills and the nature of the assessments in use. Both factors may cause teachers to narrow their curriculum and teaching practices, especially when the stakes are high."


The Atlantic
January 29, 2015

Terms such as "babysitter," "caregiver," or "daycare provider" are too often the words that pop into people’s heads when they think of an adult who teaches very young children. And their pay is too often at the bottom of the income ladder, with salaries near $10 per hour. In fact, many adults working in child-care centers and other early-childhood programs make about $1 more than fast-food cooks and less than animal caretakers, according to a recent report by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley.

This undervaluing of work is not just the case for infant and toddler teachers and assistants. Pre-k teachers, for instance, earn 40 percent less than kindergarten teachers, even though the demands of the job—and the education and training required—can be nearly identical. Research shows that these teachers matter a lot. The adults working in early-childhood programs set the foundation for future learning, developing essential knowledge in their young students as well as the skills, habits, and mindsets children need to succeed later in school and flourish in life. And the quality of interactions between teachers and children is especially important when it comes to sustaining the gains children make in pre-k programs.

January 14, 2015

As City Hall gears up for the second year of its massive pre-kindergarten program, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration will have to reckon with mounting pressure from community-based organizations about salary and benefit disparities that have long plagued the city’s early education programs. C.B.O. providers, who operate pre-kindergarten classes in facilities that are not public schools, stayed relatively quiet during the lead-up to the pre-K rollout last fall, careful not to hedge their enthusiasm about the expansion of early childhood education. But they are now voicing significant concern about pay discrepancies, which can stretch to tens of thousands of dollars, between community center teachers and staff and their Department of Education counterparts.

The Times-Picayune
January 13, 2015

For teachers in publicly funded child-care centers, Louisiana demands little more than that they be 18 or older. There is no education requirement or mandatory training. But the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education decided Tuesday in committee that these pre-school teachers must take classes of their own to learn more about young children's care and development. The move is part of a statewide push to improve pre-school, authorized by Act 3 of the 2012 legislative session and related laws. Other recent changes include the Education Department taking over management of pre-school programs, new academic report cards and coordinated pre-school enrollment. The rules apply to all pre-schools that accept public funding, such as those participating in the Child Care Assistance program.

The Washington Post
December 19, 2014

The state of Maryland has developed a new Common Core-aligned “kindergarten readiness assessment” for teachers to administer to young kids to see, rather obviously, if they are “ready” for kindergarten. Now hundreds of kindergarten teachers who used the computer-based test for the first time this fall are pushing back, saying the assessment is not appropriate and won’t help them teach. Kindergarten teachers have been giving readiness tests to youngsters for many years. Today at least 25 states mandate a kindergarten readiness assessment and this is likely to rise. As standardized testing has become a key component of school reform and early childhood education, new emphasis has been placed on ensuring that children are “ready” to enter kindergarten, and new assessments that evaluate a range of social and academic abilities are being created. The U.S. Education Department, for example, this month announced that $250 million in federal funding was going to 18 states to create or expand existing preschool programs, with one of the requirements the creation of  kindergarten readiness assessments (KRAs). . .

Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute of Early Education at Rutgers University, said that kindergarten readiness exams can be useful but in some cases, can also be wasteful. 


The Washington Post
December 16, 2014

The Maryland State Education Association is calling on the State Board of Education to suspend its Kindergarten Readiness Assessments, arguing that teachers lose too much instructional time administering the new computer-based tests and are not receiving useful data to improve teaching and learning. Betty Weller, the president of the teachers union, said the MSEA fielded numerous complaints from teachers after they started administering the test this fall. The union wants the state to halt the testing until issues surrounding the assessment and its implementation are resolved.

Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute of Early Education at Rutgers University, said teachers nationwide have had similar complaints. “Every state is grappling with the same issues,” he said. But Barnett said the assessments provide education policy experts the tools they need to determine what type of reforms should be considered for early education; what type of support children need before they go to kindergarten; and a base line of a student’s skills as he or she moves through elementary school.