Early Education in the News

Ed Central
November 4, 2015

There is growing consensus that access to pre-K is important and that governments should invest more in early education. But should services be available to all children or just those who policymakers have determined need them the most? When resources are limited, is it better to provide more generous supports to a select group or modest services to all? There is less consensus around the answers to these questions. As more states and districts create and expand pre-K programs, policymakers continue to wrestle with the best way to provide it. We’ve recently seen programs unfold using both approaches–from New York City’s new universal pre-K program to Minnesota’s recent decision to fundtargeted scholarships rather than universal access.

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.  

Catalyst Chicago
October 26, 2015

Chicago and Illinois have long track records of leadership in early childhood education. As early as the 1960s, the Chicago Public Schools was among a handful of pioneering districts that createdChild-Parent Centers (CPCs) to provide high-quality early childhood education -- PreK to 3rd grade -- while supporting low-income parents and engaging them in their children’s education. An influential longitudinal study of CPC alumni shows that the model produced substantial increases in both academic achievement and economic returns to society from higher earnings, reduced involvement in crime and better health.

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.

National Priorities Project
October 22, 2015

One key to successful preschool is that is has to be high quality: that means well-educated, well-paid teachers and thoughtful programs. It’s not cheap.

But it’s worth it. Every dollar invested in preschool saves as much as $17 down the road.

And while it’s expensive, we have the resources. If taxpayers with incomes over $500,000 paid between 0.1% and 1.4% more of their income in taxes (with the highest increase for folks with over $10 million in income), it would cover the president’s proposal to spend $750 billion over the next ten years on preschool for all of our children.  

As a country, we pay plenty in taxes when we decide something is important. In 2014, we spent $628 billion on the military – that’s 90 times as much as we spent on Head Start.

It’s time to get serious about what families need in the 21st century: it’s time for us to recognize that preschool is essential for our kids, our families, and our economy.

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?

The BayNet.com
September 22, 2015

Congressman John K. Delaney (MD-6) has filed legislation to create nationwide access to free pre-K for four-year-old children. The Early Learning Act provides state governments with federal funding to establish or expand their pre-K programs. Delaney’s legislation makes access to free pre-K for all a reality in all 50 states.

The legislation establishes The Early Education Trust Fund which will distribute block grants to participating states. The Early Education Trust Fund will be funded by a 1.5% increase on individual income, dividends and capital gains above $500,000. This provides states with up to $8,000 in funding per student, per year for pre-k.  

NJ Spotlight
September 22, 2015

State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), the chair of the Senate committee, flipped through the student work in wonder.

“Of all the testimony we have received today,” she said. “If anybody needs the proof, in New Jersey we have the evidence, and it is our responsibility to step up our game and find the investment. This is extraordinary.”

Ruiz had called for the hearing, saying she wanted to jumpstart the discussion on bringing universal preschool to the state, expanding on the successful court-ordered program now serving the state’s most impoverished districts with two years of full-day programs.

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Also on the table, Ruiz said, were other early-childhood services, including those that come before pre-K, and building out full-day kindergarten so that it is in every district. State officials said about 85 percent of districts have full-day, the rest half-day.

The line-up of guests included many of the state’s top advocates on the issue, including state Early Childhood Director Ellen Wolock, all the main education organizations, leaders of individual child centers and United Way programs, and the top researcher from Rutgers’ National Institute for Early Education Research.

“I am pleased to be in a state that has made substantial progress in providing high-quality preschool,” said Steve Barnett, NIEER’s executive director. “New Jersey already has a proven approach.”

Barnett argued that high-quality preschool across the state would save $850 million a year in K-12 costs in terms of remediation and special education.

The Atlantic
September 15, 2015

Halley Potter, a fellow at the Century Foundation, said the program’s universality is essential to ensuring its survival, especially given the program’s lack of permanent funding. (New York State pledged to finance it only through 2019.) “The fact that this has been rolled out so quickly has been able to really motivate parents and families in the city to be advocates for universal pre-k,” Potter said. “I think that’s really valuable.”

Most importantly, she argues, is the underlying goal of fostering diversity. “One of the best things that we can do for [disadvantaged] children is to give them pre-school classes that have an economic mix of kids,” she said. “That is something that we know in K–12 education as well, that economically-mixed schools tend to have much stronger outcomes for students.”

Al Jazeera
September 15, 2015

A clear majority of Americans agree: high-quality preschool should be guaranteed by the public, just as our primary and secondary schools are. It’s an idea that Democrats are hoping to add to their legacy — something to stand along aside Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and the Earned Income Tax Credit as lasting institutions in American life. But it’s also a policy that even business-minded Republicans have reason to support. Not only does it provide a cost-effective educational intervention for our kids; it also gives their parents the freedom to participate in the job market.

On July 7, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania introduced legislation to Congress proposing state-run pre-kindergarten programs that would be freely available to families earning less than $48,000 a year. Unfortunately, Casey’s bill, which was an amendment to No Child Left Behind, has stalled on Capitol Hill. However, at the state level, several Republican governors have already gotten behind their own proposals, creating bipartisan support for an issue whose time has come.

Imperial Valley News
September 14, 2015

Assembly Bill 47 relating to the expansion of the state preschool program passed the State Assembly and now heads to the Governor’s desk for approval. The Preschool For All bill would expand on last year’s commitment from the Governor and Legislature to expand state preschools for all low income families who do not have access to one year of state preschool or transitional kindergarten. AB 47 is being authored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty and co-authored by local Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella).

The Seventy Four
August 25, 2015
Florida, said Bush, has 70 percent of its kids in literacy-based pre-K programs — “more than any state.” Fact check: the National Institute for Early Education Research actually puts the number at 80 percent. But that’s not more than any other state: Vermontenrolls 91 percent of its 4-year-olds in public pre-K.Washington, D.C. isn’t a state, but it enrolls 99 percent of its 4-year-olds (including my son) and 69 percent of its 3-year-olds. Still, because of its large population, Florida enrolls more 4-year-olds than any state not named Texas (which, admittedly for sibling rivalry reasons, might be uniquely uncomfortable for Jeb to face. I feel for the guy — I have three brothers).
What about Bush’s funding claim? Florida spends $2,238 per child in its program — though that number does not include local or federal funding — and most of its programs run for three hours a day. New York City’s UPK program runs more than twice as long each day, and costs around $10,000 per student. That is, it is triple the cost of Florida’s program...so long as you ignore that it runs twice as long and operates in a far more expensive location.
Does that longer day matter? Yes — for both kids and their families. 
Politico New York
August 20, 2015

Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush criticized New York City mayor Bill de Blasio's universal pre-kindergarten program on Wednesday, accusing de Blasio of creating the program to appease teachers' unions.

Speaking at an education-themed candidate forum in New Hampshire, Bush lauded Florida's early childhood education system as a cheaper alternative to what he called "the de Blasio [system]—you know, we'll hire union teachers, expand, make this into another thriving business for the bureaucracies and for the unions."

Bush said Florida's early childhood program is "privately driven," and that between 80 percent and 85 percent of early childhood education providers in the state are private.

De Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell issued the following response: "Sorry Governor, but quality matters when it comes to early education," Norvell said in a statement. "What we’re investing in New York City is going to ensure our kids have the edge they need to compete and succeed.”

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.

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.

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.”

National Journal
July 29, 2015

At college career fairs around the country, eager business and finance majors don their best professional look and tote crisp copies of their resumes for a chance to be recruited by a Wall Street firm. But is Goldman Sachs leading an effort to start recruiting future analysts and stockbrokers in preschool?

Over the last several years, the investment-banking giant has thrown its weight—and millions of dollars—behind the expansion of preschool. Now, as the federal education law makes its way toward a reauthorization that for years seemed unlikely, advocates of universal preschool are hoping to convince lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that expansion of early childhood education is possible—even if it means joining forces with Wall Street.

Think Progress
July 16, 2015

Debate on the bipartisan reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, officially known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), will resume Wednesday on the U.S. Senate floor. . . .  Another important priority for Democrats is a universal pre-k amendment, offered by Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey. Casey asked for unanimous consent to call up the amendment Tuesday morning but Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) opposed it and asked Casey and other sponsors come up with a different way to pay for the amendment. The amendment would close the corporate tax inversions loophole, which would provide around $30 billion in funding.

On Tuesday morning, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats will block a Wednesday vote to end debate if necessary because he wants to have time for Democrats to debate their amendments – a sentiment Murray agreed with.

“We’re going to have to have a reasonable time to debate those amendments and have votes on those amendments. Otherwise we’re not going to complete this bill,” Reid said, according to The Hill. Murray has included pre-k in the three amendments she would like to see debated.

The Bradford Era
July 13, 2015

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is continuing a several-year push to open up preschool to more children and hopes such an amendment could be included in a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act.

“If children learn more earlier in life they will earn more later in their lives,” Casey said in an emailed statement to The Era on Thursday. “Investing in locally driven, high-quality pre-k is good for children and good for the future of our economy."