Signs of Decline: Pre-K Trends During the “Great Recession”

From 2006-2007 to 2009-2010, real per-child spending is up 1.1 percent, which means an increase of only $44. Per-child spending was cut in 21 states, ranging from a cut of 2 percent in Florida to a whopping 95.6 percent reduction in Arizona. Ten states continue to spend no money on state-funded programs: Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

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

In the News: The State of Preschool

The results of NIEER’s annual survey of state-funded preschool, The State of Preschool 2010: State Preschool Yearbook, were released this week in Washington, DC. At the release, NIEER Co-Director Steve Barnett noted that the data showed that, nationally speaking, the recession is continuing to negatively impact state-funded pre-K programs. “Overall, state cuts to preschool funding transformed the recession into a depression for many young children,” he said.

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

Latest Yearbook Findings: A Wake-Up Call?

When NIEER’s research team analyzed the 2009–2010 data for this year’s State Preschool Yearbook, it was not without some trepidation. News coming from the states has been anything but encouraging and we knew the previous year’s data had not captured the full impact of the recession. In many respects, the 2009-2010 data does present a fuller appreciation of the economic stresses affecting the states. For the first time since we began tracking state pre-K, total spending for the country fell in real (inflation adjusted) dollars. So did per-child spending, which now sits $700 below what states, on average, spent in the 2001–2002 school year.

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

More Great Work from John Merrow

This week we saw on PBS Newshour an important installment in John Merrow’s continuing and exemplary pursuit of answers to what ails education in this country. Learning Matters, the nonprofit production company he founded traveled to Chicago where they visited homes with preschool-age children and visited an outstanding Educare program that serves kids from infancy to 5 years old. Along the way, Merrow interviewed Barbara Bowman who runs Chicago’s public pre-K program, once headed up the Erikson Institute, and is a NIEER Scientific Advisory Board. He also interviewed Diana Rauner, president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, and Maria Whelan, president of Illinois Action for Children.

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

Head Start’s Improved Eligibility Process is a Positive Change, but Doesn’t Address the Root Problem—For Many American Families Quality Early Education is Out of Reach

It comes as welcome news that the Office of Head Start proposes more stringent rules for enrollment eligibility and data keeping in the program. (See the Federal Register at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-03-18/pdf/2011-6326.pdf.)  Although the extent of the problem is unknown, in some locales parents have been able to enroll their children in Head Start despite the fact that they are not income eligible. This may deny access to children who do meet the guidelines and creates enmity among parents who are not willing to break the rules.  Yet, tougher enforcement of eligibility rules does not get to the root of the real problem.

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

New York and Ohio: Early Education Caught Up in a Fiscal Crisis

Research by early childhood stakeholders in New York and Ohio finds that expanding pre-K has the potential to improve the supply of high-quality child care in those and other states. Our recent research has found that child care providers participating in state funded pre-K report receiving additional funding, technical assistance, and support that enables them to offer enhanced educational services. In addition, school-based pre-K directors report that they can offer working parents services that both meet their needs for care and their children’s educational needs.

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

Selling our Children’s Birthright

Anyone interested in our children’s future — and thus that of our nation — should be alarmed at the news coming from state houses and Capitol Hill these days. From Georgia to Iowa to Texas, governors are proposing to cut early childhood education in their efforts to reduce spending and the U.S. House of Representatives has proposed massive cuts to Head Start and education that will no doubt affect many young children and their families. Like Esau who sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew, these political leaders are choosing a small immediate gratification over much larger future rewards, thereby sacrificing our children’s future.

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

Teachers Must Get the Facts Out and Support Smart Evaluation, Pay and Tenure Reform

These days teachers find themselves swept up in the cross currents of an education debate about how to evaluate and pay teachers that is more polarizing and ugly by the day. Some days the debate generates much more heat than light, and this topic is greatly in need of illumination. Without at doubt, change is needed. The single salary schedule, which mandates the same salaries for teachers regardless of field, creates shortages of math, science, and special education teachers, and prevents some of the best from entering teaching. It makes sense for “star” teachers to earn more at the same level of experience.

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