“When you compare the U.S. social welfare system with those of other wealthy countries, what really stands out now is our neglect of children. Other countries provide new parents with extensive paid leave, provide high-quality, subsidized day care for children with working parents and make pre-K available to everyone or almost everyone; we do none of these things. Our spending on families is a third of the advanced-country average, putting us down there with Mexico and Turkey.”
Paul Krugman, NYT: What’s Next for Progressives
My colleague Diane Schilder and I briefed Massachusetts lawmakers last Thursday on the latest research and thinking regarding QRIS and P-3 partnerships. I was pleased to see how much interest there is in improving quality and supporting community P-3 initiatives. See this short write-up of the event.
In case you had trouble accessing my recent commentary in Education Week, Preschool Matters Today has now re-published it: A Purple Agenda for (Early) Education.
Economist James Heckman and businessman J.B. Pritzker writing in The Hill:
“The push for high-quality universal pre-K for four-year-olds, now embraced by a growing number of political and thought leaders, is strangely isolated from the movement supporting child care for working mothers. Focusing solely on four-year-old children may make for good politics, but by itself it falls short. Good policy takes into account the science of early childhood brain development, the needs of working mothers with younger children, and provides disadvantaged infants and toddlers with the high-quality child care that has been proven to promote success in school and later on in life.”
Find the article here: https://go.edc.org/ug1v
See this strong statement with a helpful review of the evidence from the Brookings Institution.
“As Betsy DeVos ascends to the role of secretary of education amidst partisan rancor, she would do well to embrace early childhood education, an issue offering an oasis of bipartisan support. Ninety percent of voters, regardless of party affiliation, endorse quality early childhood education with expanded access and affordability for children from low- and middle-income backgrounds, according to a 2016 national poll by the First Five Years Fund. Early childhood education is a strong investment in our nation’s future, as cost-benefit estimates report societal savings of up to $13 for every dollar spent on quality early childhood programs. But how can we convince policymakers to increase investment in early care and education and improve life outcomes for at-risk children?
The scientific evidence offers clear direction about what works for long-term payoffs in school readiness and life beyond the classroom. Three areas are pivotal to achieving that end: (i) early access to programs that serve children age 0-3; (ii) working with parents (direct practice of skills and intensive home visiting); and (iii) high quality programs entailing teacher-child interactions that promote higher-order thinking skills, low teacher to child ratios, and ongoing job-embedded professional development.”
See the article here: https://go.edc.org/kbkq
The Build Initiative has published a report on the impact of the US DOE’s Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge (ELC) in states around the country. The report, “P-3 Reform in Vision and Practice,” was written by Kate Tarrant and is a chapter in the Build Initiative’s E-Book, Rising to the Challenge: Building Effective Systems for Young Children and Families. (Italics denote quotations.)
A few highlights:
- Over the course of three rounds of ELC competitions, the encouragement states received to address connections between early childhood and early elementary education became increasingly significant.
- According to Rolf Grafwallner, Maryland Assistant State Superintendent, Leadership Academies for early and elementary educators are “getting us to shift from birth-to-five to birth-to-eight and not only in vision but in practice.”
- Recognizing that communities have unique cultures, resources, schools, programs, children and families, and priorities, states devolved P-3 planning and implementation to communities and encouraged experimentation at the local level.
- The concurrent development or expansion of early childhood comprehensive assessments and kindergarten entry assessments (KEA) has created an opportunity to link expectations between early childhood and the elementary school years.
ELC states are documenting lessons learned for P-3.
ELC state leaders are thinking … about the coherence among policy initiatives. New Jersey’s Vincent Costanza put it this way: “With so much happening in the three-eight space, we need to be intentional about how the pieces fit together. There is a missed opportunity if we don’t help educators see the connections between initiatives like teacher evaluation, Common Core, and KEA.” … When the systems are not aligned, multiple initiatives can create complex and burdensome demands for teachers and school administrators and undermine their support of the P-3 work.
The Massachusetts team that participated in the National Governors Association early learning policy academy reports several new developments:
- The Boards of the Department of Early Education and Care and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education have created a joint birth through grade 3 sub-committee that will include representatives from both boards.
- The team has released an updated version of Building the Foundation of Future Success for Children from Birth through Grade 3 and hopes to get it approved by both Boards this spring.
- The team is exploring the possibility of holding a series of birth through grade 3 regional meetings this spring.
- Resources and information will be posted at the state’s birth through grade 3 website, including a presentation that Ralph Smith and Amy O’Leary shared at the joint EEC/ESE Board meeting.
For additional information, here is the team’s latest email notification: Continue reading “Birth–3rd Policy Developments in Massachusetts”
The political dynamic seems to have changed since this Washington Post article was published almost a year ago, but see Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s discussion of preschool quality and wraparound services for parents as he describes his administration’s work on early education in Chicago.
Too many Republicans today ridicule the value of early education. That would come as a shock to their parents, many of whom, no doubt, read to them when they were young and made sure they had many educational experiences. Democrats, on the other hand, want universal early education and are willing to spend whatever is required. But more money for more slots will not automatically achieve the goal of preparing children to learn.
Largely missing from this debate are the essential role that parents play in their children’s education and the importance of the quality of a child’s early learning experience. Parents must be engaged or their children will be shortchanged. In addition, the hours in preschool must provide high-quality learning built around best practices so the time does not become just expensive babysitting.
Don’t miss the recent article in Commonwealth Magazine by Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children: “A Chance to Lead on Early Education.” As Martes says,
From the White House to business boardrooms to the offices of scores of Republican and Democratic mayors, governors, and members of Congress, we’re seeing historic momentum on expanding and improving preschool programs.
As the country moves forward, Massachusetts has a chance to lead. Standing on the shoulders of Eliot and other pioneers, the Commonwealth is poised to build a preschool system whose graduates will grow up to transform our families, workplaces, and communities.