Early Education in the News

Think Progress
November 6, 2015

Tolanda Barnette has spent the whole day caring for other people’s children, only to come home to a homeless shelter and worry about how to provide for her own three kids. She currently makes $12 an hour at a daycare center, a job she’s had at different centers for 13 years. “I love children,” she said. “There is nothing more pleasing to be around than kids… I’ve always had a love for kids since I was a child.” That passion brought her into this line of work, but it hasn’t made it any easier when the low pay presented challenges for her own children. She lost her housing voucher last summer when she had to leave her apartment of seven and a half years and wasn’t able to secure a new one within 90 days. Her family bounced around, staying with different friends and family until they were able to get admitted to a shelter this past June. . .

arnette is one of the millions of people who go to work everyday and care for the country’s youngest citizens. As more and more children live in families where all the adults hold jobs — both parents work in nearly half of two-parent households, and the vast majority of single parents work — the work they do has become even more vital. Yet their pay is outrageously low. According to a new analysis from the Economic Policy Institute, the median wage for child care workers is $10.31. That’s not just a small figure on its own; it’s also very low compared to what these workers could make elsewhere. Even when compared to other workers with the same gender, race, educational attainment, age, geography, and a number of other factors, EPI found that child care providers make 23 percent less. And even those figures are likely underestimating the problem, given that any provider who is self employed and working out of her own home — providers who are likely to earn even less than those in, say, centers — aren’t counted.

November 6, 2015

Connecticut has some of the nation’s largest achievement gaps between white students and students of color. That’s the lesson from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results released during the last week of October. These results provide Connecticut residents a clear picture of how the state’s schools perform, for different student groups, compared to other states, and over time.

To close these gaps, Connecticut’s schools must do a much better job of serving low-income, black, and Hispanic students. But, because one-third to one-half of the achievement gap exists before children start school, efforts to close those gaps must also start earlier, in the preschool and early childhood years.

Research shows that high-quality pre-k programs can help to narrow achievement gaps for low-income students, improving their school and long-term outcomes. This is crucial for a state like Connecticut that has struggled with persistent achievement gaps between student groups for decades.

November 4, 2015

Goldman said its investment had helped almost 99 percent of the Utah children it was tracking avoid special education in kindergarten. The bank received a payment for each of those children.

The big problem, researchers say, is that even well-funded preschool programs — and the Utah program was not well funded — have been found to reduce the number of students needing special education by, at most, 50 percent. Most programs yield a reduction of closer to 10 or 20 percent.

The Columbia Chronicle
November 3, 2015

Presidential campaign education platforms primarily focus on college tuition and student debt. However, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders support the implementation of universal prekindergarten education, which would increase access to high-quality preschool education to families of all socioeconomic backgrounds. In the past, preschool has been out of reach for lower-income children, as private preschools are expensive and public programs are limited. State-funded preschool is available in 40 states and the District of Columbia, but only three in 10 of the nation’s 4-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality prekindergarten program, according to the White House’s website. 

Duluth News Tribune
November 3, 2015

Minnesota voters will decide more than 100 school levies Tuesday, and nearly all of them will address one of four concerns: school building improvements, security upgrades, classroom technology or operating revenue. . .

Besides the debate over whether state education funding is keeping pace with inflationary costs, it's clear that new educational programs and tools are driving many of the requests for new local taxes. The Legislature's decision to fund all-day kindergarten in 2013 set in motion a classroom space squeeze that many districts are still trying to address. And Gov. Mark Dayton's latest push to provide universal preschool for 4-year-olds has exacerbated space concerns in many communities. "Districts understand the importance of early learning," said Kirk Schneidawind, executive director of the Minnesota School Boards Association. But Schneidawind said districts need time and resources to find the space and teachers to accommodate more young learners. "There's nothing worse than an overcrowded classroom or an overcrowded school," he said.

The Journal Gazette
November 2, 2015

All children deserve a strong start in their educational journey. But in far too many Hoosier communities, many children living in poverty miss out. Without access to high-quality early-learning programs, they fall behind in literacy, math and social skills. Unfortunately, far too many never catch up. Last year, our state spent nearly $22 million to remediate 4,500 kindergartners because they entered unprepared and had to repeat the grade. And in Allen County alone, only one in four children was kindergarten-ready. Not only is this an avoidable misuse of time, resources and money, but it brings to light a cyclical issue – missed opportunities to educate our youth, in whom rest the future of Indiana. . .

Up until this year, we were one of only 10 states to not offer state-funded pre-K for 4-year-olds. Now we finally have begun. On My Way launched this fall as Indiana’s first pre-K program to serve children, starting at age 4, from families who are below 127 percent of the federal poverty level. PNC Bank joined United Way of Allen County early on to match funds for this three-year program. Together with the state match, our seed money has helped begin the process of improving quality curriculum, teacher training, facility upgrades and family engagement.  

U.S. Department of Education
October 28, 2015

The U.S. Department of Education released a report today that shows Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge states are rapidly improving the quality of early learning programs while enrolling more children, especially from low- and moderate income families, in the highest-quality programs.

What’s more, thousands more children are receiving health screenings to help detect medical or developmental issues earlier, the report shows. The report comes from the annual performance reviews for the 20 states that have received more than $1 billion in Early Learning Challenge grants since 2011. These reports capture the successes achieved and obstacles overcome by states in the last year.

Online Athens
October 26, 2015

Early childhood education has a big economic effect in Georgia, said state officials, scholars and advocates in Athens on Friday.

But the state should find ways to boost the industry lest Georgia fall behind in its quest to produce a more educated workforce, some said in the morning briefing in the University of Georgia’s Seney-Stovall Chapel.

The industry’s economic impact is about $4.7 billion in Georgia, said Georgia State University economic analyst Sally Wallace — a $2.5 billion direct impact, $910 million indirect and $1.3 billion “induced,” she said. Direct is money that goes directly into child care, such as salaries for teachers, while indirect includes such things as transportation and janitorial services associated with early child care. “Induced” means things like the economic effect when employees buy household goods with money they’ve earned in child care, which supports other businesses.

The industry employs 67,000 people and helps create other jobs for 17,000 more; provides care for 337,000 children, which helps nearly 552,000 parents; and generates hundreds of millions in tax revenue for state and federal governments, she said.

October 23, 2015

Ensuring that every New Jersey child has access to quality preschool education is one of the best investments we can make in our future. Decades of studies have demonstrated that children who enter school prepared enjoy higher academic achievement, are more likely to graduate and go to college, earn more money in their lifetimes and are less likely to rely on government services. . .

Quality preschool and full-day kindergarten is critical not only for socioeconomically disadvantaged youngsters, but for all New Jersey's children. 

October 22, 2015

Federal funds are paying for an expansion of pre-school programs in Springfield, Massachusetts, where children from poor families have historically struggled academically and dropped out before graduating from high school.

A $2 million federal grant will open 11 additional Head Start classrooms for infants and toddlers from low- income families in Springfield.  Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, who announced the funding, praised Head Start as a last vestige from the Great Society programs of the 1960s.

" The legacy is millions of people across the country who got a jump start in terms of education," said Neal.

Cable One
October 21, 2015

About 50 Republican legislators implored Montana's congressional delegation to reject $40 million in federal preschool grant funding in an August letter. The move left Gov. Steve Bullock literally throwing up his hands while speaking to teachers recently. Bullock pushed a failed state-funded preschool initiative this fall.

He joked that he was pretty sure Republican legislators hated him, not 4-year-olds, when they refused to add a $37 million proposal to fund a 4-year-old preschool program in the state budget while hammering out a deal in April.
After seeing the letter, "I start to worry that some of them might hate 4-year-olds too," he said.

Sun Herald
October 20, 2015

Democrat Sannie Overly promised a Jack Conway administration would spend more money on public preschool programs while Republican Jenean Hampton said it was a "non-issue" for Matt Bevin during a statewide televised debate of Kentucky's major party nominees for lieutenant governor just two weeks before the election.

"This whole issue, this is a non-issue for us. This wasn't even on our radar," Hampton said when asked if a Bevin administration would provide public preschool programs in Kentucky. "The reason the Conway camp is blowing this out of proportion is they have no other substance to offer. So they do what they always do, which is deflect attention from the real problems in Kentucky."

After the debate, Hampton told The Associated Press she meant that cutting spending for public preschool programs was the non-issue, saying "it wasn't even on our radar for budget cuts or anything else."

"I rose out of poverty. Obviously I care about kids education," said Hampton, who was raised in Detroit by a single mother who could not afford a television or a car.


Deseret News
October 20, 2015

In 1992, the National Bureau of Economic Research began a 10-year study of the personalities of 1,420 low-income children in western North Carolina.

When researchers revisited some of their data last month, they noticed a trend they hadn't studied before: When the financial condition of the children's families improved, so did their behavior.

In 1997, a casino opened on the North Carolina's Eastern Cherokee reservation. The tribal-owned casino distributed profits evenly to each adult tribal member. During the study, these semiannual payments averaged $2,000 and gave a quarter of the study's families a major income boost.

Every year, the researchers asked parents comprehensive questions about the behavior of their children. They used this data to identify trends in how the children's personalities evolved. They found children of parents who received casino money had a measured increase in their conscientiousness (their tendency to be organized, responsible and hardworking) as well as their agreeableness (tendency to act in a cooperative and unselfish manner).

And the change was more pronounced for children whose casino payments made the biggest financial impact.

5ABC News
October 16, 2015

The $1 million of funding will be used to make sure thousands of 3-year-olds are screened for health and development issues as part of a program called Screen @ Three. The initiative will ensure that an extra 7,000 children are screened by 2018.

Generation Next officials say that early childhood screening helps connect kids to needed services at an earlier age so they are ready for kindergarten. They say the majority of 3-year-olds in Minneapolis and St. Paul are not screened.

The other $3 million will be used to help improve the quality of child care access across the two cities in partnership with an initiative called Think Small. Generation Next officials say that kids who attend high-quality child care are nearly twice as likely to be school ready as those who don’t, so the money will help prepare an additional 1,700 kids for kindergarten over the next three years.

The money will be used to offer child care providers extra training and resources.

Dayton Daily News
October 14, 2015

Preschool providers in Dayton will get a half-million-dollar boost this month that will help 135 disadvantaged students get better prepared for kindergarten by age 5.

The money is part of $15 million in additional early childhood education funding from this summer’s state budget bill, and will benefit 3,675 students in 55 school districts statewide. In addition to Dayton, funding has been approved for preschool providers in the Fairborn, Tecumseh, Springfield and Tri-Village areas.

October 14, 2015

Juan Diego Prudot was successful at a very young age. With the abundant opportunities afforded those of means, he has chosen the path of a social entrepreneur in an effort to improve early childhood education around the world.

Prudot sees the problem this way, “Over 100 million children under the age of six are living in underserved communities and do not have access to quality early childhood education. This situation leads to children being unprepared to enter primary school and with a weaker social and emotional foundation, thus making it more challenging for the youth to thrive and become productive members of society.”

Prudot led the formation of a team of student entrepreneurs in Taiwan, where he attends business school at National Chengchi University. The team launched IMPCT, which operates Playcares.com, and competed in and won the 2015 Hult Prize competition at the Clinton Global Initiative last month.

Prudot explains the business, which provides infrastructure for women in the developing world to provide bona fide educational services rather than mere daycare, saying, “We are building a bridge between people that want and are able to become part of a solution with hardworking communities that only need an opportunity. Playcares.com is not only a financial inclusion mechanism to empower women to run Playcares, but it is also a way to generate awareness of how quality early childhood education will break the poverty cycle.”

The Washington Post
October 12, 2015

Can 4-year-olds learn what they need to know for kindergarten by sitting in front of a computer for 15 minutes a day?

Utah is betting they can. This year, more than 6,600 children across the state are learning by logging on to laptops at home in a taxpayer-funded online preschool program that is unlike any other.

This is preschool without circle time on the carpet, free play with friends and real, live teachers. In online preschool, children navigate through a series of lessons, games and songs with the help of a computer mouse and two animated raccoons named Rusty and Rosy. It’s a sign of the growing interest among educators in using technology to customize learning, even for the youngest children. It also gives children who might otherwise not get any preparation for elementary school a chance to experience an academic program. But it’s also missing some ingredients — especially social and emotional learning — that many experts and parents consider central to the education of young children.

October 12, 2015

In vetoing Assembly Bill 47, titled The Preschool For All Act of 2015, Governor Brown states that there isn’t a need to set a deadline for meeting the needs of California’s youngest learners. Tens of thousands of families in every corner of the state would disagree. His decision, to keep the goal of providing universal preschool to every child who needs it elusive, is out of step with President Obama, the California legislature, and the more than 70% of California voters who support universal preschool. Even though more than 60% of California’s Latino four-year-olds and half of African-American four-year-olds are not enrolled in preschool, Governor Brown says we can continue on modest, incremental efforts rather than clear and decisive planning. We stand with Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, and  AB 47 co-authors Assembly Members Bonta, Chávez, Eduardo Garcia, and Rendon, declaring that children’s futures deserve more. From President Obama, to a majority of Republican and Democratic members of the State Legislature, to business leaders, neuroscientists, teachers, parents and advocates — everyone agrees that high quality universal preschool matters.

October 9, 2015

Low-income students who change schools frequently are at risk for lower math scores and have a harder time managing their behavior and attention in the classroom than similar students who stay in the same school, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
Children who experienced fewer school transitions over a five-year period, demonstrated greater cognitive skills and higher math achievement in early elementary school, relative to their counterparts who changed schools frequently. This research, which involved children enrolled in the Chicago public school system, held true even after taking into account children’s cognitive and math skills during Head Start preschool programs. It was published in the APA journal Developmental Psychology®.

“Simply stated, frequently changing schools is a major risk factor for low-income children’s school success,” said the study’s lead author, Allison Friedman-Krauss, PhD, of New York University.

The Boston Globe
October 7, 2015

Child-care costs would now devour at least 30 percent of a minimum-wage worker’s earnings in every state, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute has found. Such workers in New York and Massachusetts would have to fork over more than 80 percent of their annual earnings, according to the findings, published Tuesday. In Washington, D.C., they’d need to throw in everything - plus extra: 102 percent of a minimum-wage salary is required to cover the average annual cost of infant care.

This election cycle, the price of day care has emerged as a hot topic among presidential hopefuls . Democratic contenders say the burden breaks middle-class budgets, often trumping the rent check. Hillary Rodham Clinton, for example, has called for more government money to support public child-care programs. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), her biggest challenger on the left so far, advocates for universal preschool and paid family leave. Conservative voices are also starting to join the national conversation: Last month, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) became the first Republican candidate to address the problem with a policy proposal, announcing a new tax break for companies that offer paid leave to employees. Nearly 11 million children younger than 5 in the United States depend on some type of weekly child care arrangement, according to Child Care Aware of America, which tracks national data.