What Can Colombia Teach Us About Early Education?

So much of what we know about the effects of early childhood education is based on research conducted in North America where we have been fortunate enough to have studies like those conducted on the Perry Preschool Program. Of course, repeating the Perry study 40 years later would be difficult if not impossible here in the U.S. That’s because over the decades out-of-home child care and preschool have become so prevalent that any large sample of children against which researchers compare the early education treatment is far less likely to have attended no type of early childhood program. This complicates matters when measuring the true effects of access to quality preschool since it is difficult to gauge to what extent the “impure” control group affects the outcome.

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

Investing in Children

On Wednesday, October 13, the Center on Children and Families at Brookings and the National Institute for Early Education Research will release a new collection of papers that assesses the field of early childhood education and child care. Edited by Senior Fellow Ron Haskins and W. Steven Barnett of Rutgers University, Investing in Young Children: New Directions in Federal Preschool and Early Childhood Policy focuses on Early Head Start, Head Start, and home visiting programs. The editors recommend promising reforms for all three programs, including closing ineffective Head Start centers or giving other program operators the opportunity to compete for Head Start funds. Other recommendations include offering a few states broad regulatory relief to innovate and coordinate Head Start with other state preschool educational programs and child care.

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

For Whom Does the Bell Toll?

The latest Census Bureau data (collected in 2009 and early this year) show the gap between rich and poor in the U.S. is the widest on record. Last year, the top 20 percent of households—those earning more than $100,000 a year—received 49.4 percent of all household income. The bottom 20 percent—those earning less than $20,000—received 3.4 percent. The ratio of earnings between the top and bottom is about double what it was when the Census Bureau began tracking in 1967. Median household income fell 2.9 percent nationwide, from $51,726 to $50,221. It rose in only one state — North Dakota. Now 43.6 million Americans are living in poverty, the most in the 51 years the Census estimates have been published.

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

The Play-Based Learning Movement is Off to a Promising New Start

We should all hope for a beautiful fall day in New York City on October 3rdwhen Play for Tomorrow, the consortium of educators, authors and business leaders formed last year kicks off what it terms a new national movement dedicated to play-based learning with its “Ultimate Block Party” in New York City’s Central Park. The group’s co-founder, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek (Temple University), and her collaborators, not least of which is the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, have put together what promises to be a spectacular event that’s sure to draw lots of media attention to the issue of play-based learning. Among the luminaries involved in the event as spokespersons are none other than Laurie Tisch, president of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, bestselling children’s book author, Craig Hatkoff, and actress and mother of three, Sarah Jessica Parker.

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

The Perry Preschool Study Stands the Test of Time, but It Doesn’t Stand Alone

Perhaps because the Perry Preschool study is cited so often to demonstrate the long-term benefits of preschool, it seems the landmark study is often criticized – or at least its flaws underscored in an attempt to discredit its findings as relevant to today’s world. This week I decided to address the validity of some of the criticisms I hear most often. At the same time I add a word of caution about relying too much on this (or any) single study.

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

Three Easy Pieces (of Research) for Budget Deciders

As the recession drags on, it becomes ever-more-obvious the ABC (across-the-board cuts) approach to controlling government expenditures is harming our chances for a robust economy in the future. That’s because ABC looks at everything as a cost, ignoring investments in areas like early childhood education that are critical to future economic growth. ABC has been in especially heavy use at the state level. Over the past two years, some states have spared pre-K from ABC while others have not. Other early childhood programs have suffered from ABC, as well. Next year could see more of the same.

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

Welcome to the Milk Party: The Children’s Movement of Florida

In this era of Tea Party discontent, a group of Floridians who have had it up to their eyeballs with the way Florida treats its children is kicking off its own series of Milk Parties to register their determination to elevate children on the state’s list of investment priorities. Officially launched earlier this week, the new group is called The Children’s Movement of Florida. Its leaders are children’s advocate David Lawrence, Jr., and Roberto Martinez, Florida board of education member and former U.S. attorney for South Florida. For many in early education, Lawrence needs little introduction.

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

Is Preschool Too Early for Science? No!

Until recently, science has been the ignored academic stepchild of language and math. Mandated state testing as part of No Child Left Behind initially focused on language, expanded to math, and now includes science. Concern over U.S. students’ poor science scores has brought science teaching to the forefront and a 2007 National Research Council (NRC) report, Taking Science to School, calls for broad sweeping changes in how science should be taught and organized. States are now revising science standards to be less fragmented, fewer in number, and organized around “big ideas.”

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