Why School Reform Should Begin With Pre-K

In the past, too many school reform conversations have begun at the kindergarten door, but that is changing. We think it particularly noteworthy that the latest issue of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) quarterly journal American Educator features two articles devoted preschool education. In their article “The Promise of Preschool,” NIEER Co-Directors Ellen Frede and Steve Barnett make the case that preschool programs have important academic and social benefits for middle-income children as well as more disadvantaged kids and that if high-quality preschool were offered to all children, the benefits would far outweigh the costs.

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

Preschool’s Role in Fighting Childhood Obesity

While new data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that the childhood obesity epidemic may have hit a plateau, the fact remains that in 2008, 14.6 percent of low-income children from ages 2 to 4 were obese. Obesity at such young ages has been linked to less physical activity, thus perpetuating unhealthy weight and inactivity status into adulthood. While obesity levels have been rising, the number of children enrolled in preschool programs has also been steadily increasing. Researchers and advocates have proposed that preschools might be an appropriate place for preventive health measures, particularly activities that increase young children’s physical activity. Enter the Children’s Activity and Movement in Preschools Study (CHAMPS).

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

Bredekamp Book Illuminates Effective Practices

Sue Bredekamp, one of the foremost authors on early childhood teaching practice, is out with a timely new book. Few are as qualified to write a primer on effective practice as she. Many may recall Sue is the primary author of NAEYC’s Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs (1987 and 1997 editions) and co-author of last year’s revision of that well-regarded volume. Her new effort, Effective Practices in Early Childhood Education, just arrived at NIEER and first impressions suggest it builds on that foundation. Research-based practices are demonstrated by example, there’s a “What Works” section in each chapter, and she integrates play as a means to promote learning throughout.

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

Preschool Education Reform in America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation (or What I Learned from Fox Business News about Preschool)

I think I saw the “Borat” guy again on TV last night (Fox Business News). He cracks me up. This time he called himself “Stossel.” His fake reporter routine never gets old. You would think after the movie everyone would recognize him, even with the name change, or that his corkscrew logic and misinterpretations would tip people off. Last night he told the audience: “government schools” are basically jailing American children, students in Kazakhstan outscore those in the U.S., and highly-quality private education can be bought for a $1. How can we get U.S. of A. children out of jail he asked? His answer: close government schools, cut taxes, and have poor children go to charity schools, oh, and throw the unions down the well.

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

Bringing Science to Pre-K: Rutgers Researchers Write the Book

“What do you predict we will find inside here?” Kimberly Brenneman asks the preschoolers gathered around her as they consider the coconut she is holding. This isn’t your everyday show and tell. Dr. Brenneman, an assistant research professor at Rutgers’ Department of Psychology, as well as NIEER, is engaging the kids in a line of scientific inquiry that illustrates a teaching approach known as Preschool Pathways to Science. Called PrePSfor short, it contributed to the teaching method used in the popular PBS show Sid the Science Kid. It’s also the title of a new book just out from Brookes Publishing that serves as a guide for implementing science in preschool classrooms.

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

RX for President Obama’s Early Learning Budget: Tie it Firmly to Education Reform

Although I have long championed a big boost in the federal commitment for early care and education, I have a major concern with the FY 2011 early care and education budget increases President Obama proposed this week. The funding increases the president proposes for FY2011 are, if nothing else, big. They include:

• A $1.6 billion increase in the Child Care and Development Block Grant for a new total of $6.65 billion. That’s the biggest increase that program has seen in decades. Some $800 million of that would not require a state match.

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

Change we need: Responding responsibly to the results of the Head Start Impact Study

One prediction I make confidently is that most responses to the new report on Head Start’s effects will be wrong. Advocates of Head Start will try to “kill the messenger” by attacking the study and rejecting any notion that Head Start needs serious reform. Opponents of Head Start will claim that the program has been shown to be a complete failure. People on both sides will claim that the report shows “fade out” and many will blame poor public schools.

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

Clearing the Way for Better Benefit-Cost Analyses

Benefit-cost analyses (BCA) — quantifying benefits of interventions, often expressing them in dollars returned per dollar invested — are key drivers of early education policy. They’re widely consulted when early education decisions are debated, but few who use them have much in the way of an understanding of how they come about. A booklet just off the press from the National Research Council goes a long way toward explaining the issues.

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

Did Michigan Create an Incentive to Sacrifice Pre-K?

When Michigan’s leaders finally settled on a FY 2010 budget, it looked as if the cuts to the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) weren’t so bad, considering the dire condition of the economy there. The part of GSRP that’s formula-funded received the same $88.1 million allotted to it in FY 2009. The portion that is competitively funded was reduced from $15 million to $7.5 million. That’s a big hit, especially considering those funds had gone to Head Start and other providers serving kids most at risk of school failure. Still, total state pre-K allocations appeared to have dropped by about seven percent — less than many had feared.

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