Reactions to the President’s Pre-K Speech and Proposal

The early childhood education (ECE) field is a-twitter with responsesfollowing President Obama’s announcement of federal investments in preschool for all during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Many have questions about how administration’s plan will approach preschool education. Will programs truly be of high quality? Will programs strike a balance between academics and play?

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Early Education in the State of the Union Spotlight

Rumors have been swirling that President Obama would address early childhood education in State of the Union speech, but there was still a thrill for early education advocates in hearing the President’s words rings out from the podium tonight. The full details of his early education plan will be revealed in coming days but inclusion in the State of the Union makes clear the White House has elevated early learning to a national priority.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Principles for New Federal Early Education Policy Initiatives

Anticipation is building that President Obama will propose a significant new investment in early education in his State of the Union address. There are many big issues to be addressed, and young children always seem to be considered a small issue so it would make a real statement if the President chose to mention them.  There are two good reasons to do so.  First, new investments in young children make sense from a purely economic perspective—high-quality early education increases long-term productivity and economic growth and reduces inequality.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Not Just Wishful Thinking

Ensuring that all our children are ready to succeed when they enter kindergarten is a tremendous task, made much more difficult in the United States by high levels of poverty and low levels of parental education. One in four preschoolers lives in poverty, nearly half in low-income families. Twenty-seven percent are born to mothers without a high school diploma or GED. Assessments at kindergarten entry show that surprisingly many children from middle-income families are poorly prepared to succeed.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

The Importance of Having Data; Or What Would Sherlock Holmes Do?

Sherlock Holmes isn’t the only one relying on data. As anyone in the education world—researchers, parents, teacher, principals, and students—can tell you, decision-making in education is increasingly based on data that shows us what is and isn’t working. So what happens when we don’t have the data we need? Schools that receive federal and state education funds often have specific data reporting requirements, making centralized data collection and analysis relatively convenient. But early childhood education, fragmented across states, localities, programs, and sectors, presents a challenge to the data wonk.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Preschool for Y’All: How Did Early Education Become a Southern Goal?

What explains this focus on early learning in Southern states? As seen in our prior post on this topic, early childhood education is a priority in much of the South. Early education may have been on policymakers’ radars in the South longer than in other states. In 1988, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) issued its report Goals for Education: Challenge 2000, which set educational goals for the year 2000. Among other goals, the report called for “increasing the percentage of ‘at risk’ children served by pre-school and kindergarten programs to 100 percent” as well as screening all children using a readiness assessment before first grade.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Preschool for Y’All: The Rise of Early Education in the South

As our State of Preschool 2011 report made clear, state-funded pre-K nationwide has fallen victim to tight budgets. As rises in enrollment outstripped funding increases, per-child spending was dragged down. We’ve also seen that disparities in quality, access, and resources have been exacerbated over the last decade, as some states prioritized early education during budget crises while others cut spending. A quick look at regional trends finds one important point: early childhood education is a priority down South.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

These Hours Were Made For Learning: State Pre-K Operating Schedules

Last week we wrote about changes in schedules for kindergarten classes, noting that some states and school districts are scaling back from full-day to half-day programs to stretch tight budgets further. This week we’re taking a look at pre-K programs and their operating schedules, using longitudinal data from our State Preschool Yearbook report series.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Back to School: Shrinking Kindergarten Days

It’s that time of year again when the weather starts to feel crisper and the kids are donning backpacks to head to a new year of school. But what kind of classrooms are they going back to this year? Unfortunately, with budgets stretched thinner and thinner, many schools are forced to make significant cuts. In the earliest grades, which are often seen as not yet “real” school, these are even more apparent. For instance, many states are scaling back on the length of the kindergarten day to lower costs.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.