Early Education in the News

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.

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 River City News
November 2, 2015

Early childhood education isn’t a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Tea Party issue. It is a critical component to our community’s long term success, and should be treated that way, regardless of your political persuasion. 
If you are under the belief that early childhood education, (pre-natal care, quality childcare, all day pre-school & kindergarten) is a waste of time and money, and efforts to improve early childhood learning are lost by the age of nine, I want to ask you this question, “Who have you been listening to?” While it’s easy to get caught up in political passions during the campaign season, now is the time to put rhetoric aside and hear what our local experts say about the importance of early childhood education.

All Africa
November 2, 2015

Like Favour, over 10 million school age children are out of school in Nigeria because their families cannot afford to fund the fees, especially pre-school, which is presently not state-funded. There is an urgent need to expand the access of early childhood education, as the importance cannot be over emphasised.

Past governments have only always spent a fraction of the United Nation's recommended national investment on education, and this has had a negative impact on the quality and accessibility to education, especially pre-schools. Most high quality pre-schools in the country are privately owned and inaccessible to disadvantaged families because of the cost.

Children are made to stay at home at an age (0-5 years), where research has shown that the human brain is developing - therefore representing a critically important window of opportunity to develop the child's full potential and shape key academic, social, and cognitive skills that determine a child's success in life and in school.

Star Tribune
October 28, 2015

Math and reading proficiency scores for Minnesota fourth-graders this year have dipped from their record highs in 2013, according to the results of a national test released Wednesday. In 2013, fourth-graders in Minnesota posted the highest scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), considered the best comparison of students from state to state in the country. But scores for both reading and math dropped in fourth grade this year.

The state also saw no significant improvement in reading or math scores for eighth-graders in Minnesota. Still the state continues to outperform others across the country, especially in math. But state officials say Minnesota’s educators should not be content because large gaps in achievement show many poor and minority students are not meeting standards.

October 28, 2015

Over the past three years, California has more than quadrupled the number of early childhood centers being evaluated with a new rating system, but that is still just a fraction of the state’s publicly subsidized programs.

The U.S. Department of Education released Tuesday a progress report of the 20 states, including California, that received federal Early Learning Challenge grants starting in 2011. The grants, part of the Race to the Top program, were meant to improve publicly funded early learning programs with systems to rate their quality, as well as track health screenings and assess children’s readiness for kindergarten.

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.

Chalkbeat Colorado
October 26, 2015

A recent landmark study out of Tennessee upended the conventional wisdom about the power of preschool and raised questions nationwide, including in Colorado, about how to leverage early education to produce long-lasting impacts.
The Vanderbilt University study revealed that at-risk students who participated in Tennessee’s publicly-funded preschool program showed significant gains initially, but by third grade performed worse than non-participants on both academic and behavior measures. Early childhood experts here say the study underscores the need for quality in both preschool and subsequent K-3 instruction, but that the findings don’t match Colorado data showing that academic benefits of preschool do stick. . .

But Dale Farran, one of the Vanderbilt study authors, said such data—part of an annual report to the Colorado legislature—doesn’t rigorously match preschool children to comparison group children. Instead of matching them prior to the preschool year, they’re matched after-the-fact in first grade—leaving many unknowns about parent motivation, poverty status and skill levels when the comparison children were 4.

October 23, 2015

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that students in Georgia's Pre-K program show educational improvement in key areas and progress at a greater rate while participating in the program, according to a recent study. The results are part of a multi-year evaluation by the Frank Porter Graham Childhood Development Institute at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

'Ensuring Georgia's youngest scholars continue to benefit from Georgia's highly ranked Pre-K program is one of my top priorities,' said Deal. 'This study confirms that Georgia is on the right track. Our Pre-K program helps students acquire the foundation necessary for a solid education, puts them on track to read at grade level by the third grade and assists in developing essential skills which will lead to academic excellence and future success.'

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. 

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.

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.

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.

Education World
October 7, 2015

Are states able to expand preschool access without a court order? That's what Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is hoping. Though the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled six years ago that the state was responsible for providing a certain level of education to all, it did not specify preschool. As a result, educators, lawmakers and parents are sparring over how the state should set out to expand preschool access to the state's young learners. 

The Dallas Morning News
October 7, 2015

Just a few years ago, only about one in three Dallas kindergartners started school on grade level. Most were up to a year behind their peers, which experts say is difficult to make up.

So starting in 2013, Dallas began overhauling prekindergarten to build a stronger curriculum, enroll more students and provide teachers with more focused training and support so that the district would have a high-quality program.But when school started this year, Dallas officials were shocked to see a 10-point gain that meant that now 51 percent of all kindergartners are on grade level.

“That’s a meteoric lift,” said Alan Cohen, an assistant superintendent who oversees early childhood education in Dallas. “It’s not a time for victory laps. We have a long, long way to go. But our efforts in pre-K are definitely starting to yield results.”

The Washington Times
September 28, 2015

The students - many of them never separated from their parents - would be here for 25 hours a week instead of the usual 10, starting today. . .

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.” Nationwide, more than a quarter of 4-year-olds are now in state-funded preschool programs, according to a report released this spring by the U.S. Department of Education, tracking states’ voluntary shift. From 2003 to 2013, states increased their investment in preschool by more than 200 percent. The increase continued last year as 28 states put $1 billion more into early education.

The Century Foundation
September 25, 2015

In a new Brookings Institution paper, Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst and Ellie Klein claim that the Obama administration’s proposal for a new federal universal preschool program significantly overstates how much it would cost to enable all four-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families to attend free pre-K. . .

Setting aside whether a $2.6 billion annual gap in federal spending between the administration and Brookings estimates is sizeable enough to warrant the degree of consternation expressed by Whitehurst and Klein, the paper omits a crucial consideration and makes several claims that require a response.

Mother Jones
September 25, 2015

I'm a considerable fan of early childhood education. Megan McArdle says she's tentatively in favor too, but "I am opposed to blind boosterism of such programs, the kind that confidently predicts marvelous results from thin empirical evidence, and briskly proceeds to demand huge sums be spent accordingly." I'm tempted to say this is a straw-man argument, but maybe not. There are a lot of cheerleaders out there. In any case, she offers a useful corrective for anyone who thinks the evidence in favor of universal preschool is open and shut. So what should we do?

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."