Early Education in the News

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.

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.

The Atlantic
October 24, 2015

One of the more staggering education statistics to transpire in recent years is that, in most states, daycare actually costs more than tuition and fees at a public four-year college. The finding, which is based on a 2013 report by Child Care Aware America, specifically refers to the care of an infant—but the high costs of caring for and educating children continue until they enter kindergarten. That’s largely because, compared to the K-12 and higher-ed sectors, there are relatively few public prekindergarten options in the United States to choose from.

The staggering price of preschool means it’s largely open only to wealthier families—even though a new poll suggests that an overwhelming majority of America’s adults agree that the country should ensure more children have access to quality learning in their first five years of life. In the same poll, a plurality of them even went so far as to say that Americans should invest more in early education than in college.

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.'

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.

Richmond Times-Dispatch
October 20, 2015

"There is widespread consensus among the business community, and growing bipartisan consensus among public officials, that investments in early childhood are the best long-term investments we can make in our workforce, in our educational system and the overall well-being of our commonwealth,” he said.

Koonce spoke at a meeting on the economics of early childhood education hosted by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce at the University of Richmond.

Virginia’s economy will need more than 2 million new workers over the next 10 years, he said. Businesses have traditionally devoted resources to training adults for jobs, he said, “but it is a equally, if not more important, for the private sector to be involved at the start of the pipeline.”

He said businesses and public officials need to consider how resources might better be allocated to serve “high-quality pre-K programs that have accountability and performance measurements in place.”

The quality of early childhood education can be linked to educational outcomes later in life, said John Weinberg, a staff economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.


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.


October 20, 2015

Lawmakers are moved by the data -- studies that show children are better prepared when they start school and that each dollar invested results in a $7 return -- but they are also moved by personal, face-to-face stories of what the program did for their constituent's children or the frustration of not having it available, Poole said.

"Legislators need to hear the results, they need to hear the needs," Poole said.

The Alabama School Readiness Alliance and its Pre-K Task Force are leading a 10 year, $125 million campaign to fully fund First Class Pre-K by 2023. Accomplishing that will require advocates to make their voices heard, Bridgeforth said.

"There is no substitute for advocacy," Bridgeforth said. "We have to continue to urge legislators to make Pre-k a priority."

Connecticut Mirror
October 16, 2015

Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher on Thursday provided a key victory to a coalition of parents, educators and city leaders suing the state when he rejected the state's request to exclude evidence related to preschool from a trial that will determine whether the state is spending enough on education overall.

"What is the testimony about preschool evidence with respect to how it effects primary school and secondary school education? It's hard for me to make a ruling on that until I hear evidence," Moukawsher told lawyers representing the state and those representing the Coalition for Justice in Education Funding. "I will hear the evidence and maybe it will convince me that its so tightly connected to primary and secondary schools that it is appropriate."

The state still has a long way to go before it reaches universal preschool for the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds. State officials reported earlier this year that 10,109 children from low-income families — nearly one-third of poor students — cannot afford to enroll in a high-quality preschool program. To provide universal access to preschool, districts would have to add 814 preschool classrooms.

Children's Institute
October 16, 2015

Today, the Children’s Institute is releasing the results of our recentOregon School District Preschool Survey. The report shows which Oregon school districts have preschool programs, and details how they operate the programs. 

As part of our focus on the learning and healthy development of children from birth through third grade, the Children’s Institute is committed to increasing access to preschool and ensuring preschool programs meet quality standards. Preschool is a critical piece of Oregon’s vision of a P-20 education continuum, from preschool through advanced college degree. And we know that high-quality preschool can help close the persistent opportunity gap between children in poverty and their more affluent peers.

Yet only a fraction of children from low-income Oregon families have access to quality preschool.

The Daily Journal
October 14, 2015

Despite the demise of the Preschool For All act at the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown last week, advocates are remaining optimistic in their quest to increase access for students from low-income families to early education programs.

Brown elected Friday, Oct. 9, to veto Assembly Bill 47, which aimed to guarantee all state students would be able to enroll in preschool programs by 2018, so long as there was room in the state budget to fund such an effort.

In his veto statement, Brown said he did not support setting arbitrary deadlines, but promised he would stay committed to paying the way for eligible students through early education programs via the state budget.

And though they said it is unfortunate Brown was unwilling to sign the bill authored by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, local early education advocates said they considered the governor’s willingness to find funding for preschool heartening.

“It’s crucial that all kids have access to high-quality preschool programs, and we’re supportive of the governor’s decision to allow that process to play out within the structure of the state budget,” said Allie Jaarsma, spokeswoman for the San Mateo County Office of Education, in an email.

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.

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.

Portland Tribune
October 8, 2015

The new Early Learning Division of the Oregon Department of Education scored a major victory in the 2015 Oregon Legislature with a bill to expand government-paid preschool programs. Preschool Promise will offer services to families making up to twice the federal poverty level (currently $24,250 for a family of four).

Recently released data from the research and advocacy group Children First for Oregon show that 385,000 children, nearly half of the total in the state, live in or near poverty.

“It helps us to expand access to individuals who are at a higher level of the poverty threshold, but still fall into that space where the ability to afford preschool or child care might be out of reach for their families,” says Director Megan Irwin, who has led the division since it began in July 2013. “What that bill did was create a new system for preschool in our state.”

Fifty-seven school districts in Oregon currently operate a preschool program. The Early Learning Division expects to expand that to 16 more programs serving 1,400 more preschoolers by September 2016.

The Tennessean
October 6, 2015

The weight of the evidence is on the side of pre-K, that early intervention works. What government has not yet found is the political will to put that understanding into full practice with a sequence of smart schooling that provides the early foundation, then systematically builds on it.

For this high purpose, our schools need both the talent and the organization to educate each child who arrives at the schoolhouse door. Some show up ready, but many do not at this critical time when young brains are developing rapidly.
The CT Mirror
October 6, 2015

There's agreement that too few children in Connecticut have access to quality preschool programs, but top state officials are butting heads with a coalition of parents and educators on how to put a near-universal system in place.

Attorney General George Jepsen argues that whether the state pays for universal preschool is an issue that should remain with lawmakers. His office is defending the State Department of Education and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a school-funding lawsuit brought by a coalition of parents, school boards, municipal leaders and teachers' unions.

The coalition worries that lawmakers will continue to look at the budgets for early education programs as places to find money when times are tight.

A Jan. 11 trial date is set on the case that will determine whether the state is meeting its constitutional obligation to provide all students a quality education. Among other things, Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher will soon have to determine whether evidence relating to preschool access will be permitted.

US News & World Report
October 6, 2015

It's not that the low-income children who went to preschool are regressing, but that the children who didn't go to preschool are catching up. Consider this analogy: In New York City, where I live, some families start teaching their babies to swim at age 2. My daughter didn't begin swim lessons until age 6. But by age 8, perhaps my daughter will be swimming as well as the other kids. That would be calculated as complete "fadeout" in the data if the early swimmers cannot maintain their achievement lead over my daughter.

Among giant statewide or urban preschool programs, as they actually exist in the real world, rigorous research is scarce. Like the small, higher-quality programs, the large-scale programs tend to find an initial benefit from a preschool education at the start of kindergarten, but not a very large one. And this small preschool boost fades and becomes very weak by third grade, or disappears altogether. Even in Tulsa, Oklahoma – which is reputed to have one of the best publicly funded preschool programs in the country – researchers found one cohort of students who had attended preschool scoring the same on a third grade math test as students from similar socioeconomic backgrounds who hadn't gone to preschool. In a second cohort, researchers found only a small benefit from preschool by third grade.

"If you look at every study on preschool, fadeout is pervasive," said Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. "You have to have a really big immediate effect to get any effects in the long term. And these can be squandered if the school system isn't good enough."

NJ Spotlight
October 1, 2015

One of the Garden State’s best-kept secrets may be that it has succeeded in preschool precisely because it has done the hard work that other states have not.

In part, this is because New Jersey’s Supreme Court mandated that the state do so for 31 school districts that were part of the landmark Abbott v. Burke case. The court required New Jersey to fund and implement a program that is much more like the one I studied 30 years ago than any other program in the country.

To the state’s credit, the state Department of Education has put in place a rigorous and extensive support and oversight system that has raised and maintained quality for more than a decade.

Direct observation of teaching conducted every year shows that the vast majority of “Abbott” Pre-K classrooms are good to excellent. When I take visitors from other states and countries to see these classrooms they are stunned at their excellence – a common reaction is “We do the same curriculum, but it doesn’t look like this.”

October 1, 2015

The Education Law Center renewed a plea this week to increase state funding and expand preschool for 16 poor New Jersey school districts, including four in Ocean County.

The Newark-based law center has spent years fighting state cuts to these schools, referred to as "Bacon" districts because of their original lawsuit.

The districts – which include public schools in Lakewood, Lakehurst, Little Egg Harbor and Waretown – are unable to provide a constitutionally-required "thorough and efficient education" because of reduced state aid, law center Executive Director David Sciarra said Wednesday inside Superior Court in Toms River.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
September 29, 2015

Educating and caring for Georgia’s youngest children is a $2.45 billion industry and one worthy of public support, state early childhood officials say.

The state’s Department of Early Care and Learning will release a study today supporting its case for increased public funding. The study comes after Gov. Nathan Deal announced he wants to spend$50 million to reverse cuts to Georgia’s pre-kindergarten program that increased class sizes and cut teacher pay.