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“At the current growth rate, it would take about 75 years for states to enroll just 50 percent of their 4-year-olds in preschool and 150 years to reach 70 percent enrollment. In the nine states that do not fund preschool at all, it would take even longer.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s op-ed, “Increase access to quality preschool,” in the The Hill, June 9, 2015

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“There is a new beginning in California for economic development and ending mass incarceration. Yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to allot an additional $265 million to fund 7,000 additional preschool slots and 6,800 child care slots, plus a rate increase for all providers. It’s a major step forward for the state we call home.”

Joseph DiSalvo’s op-ed, “Silicon Valley Coalition Plays Key Role in Funding Early Education,” in San Jose Inside, June 17, 2015

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“Don’t you think they grow up pretty fast for being two.”

Seattle Nursing Home Resident in a video clip made by filmmaker Evan Briggs and featured in the ABC News story “Seattle Preschool in a Nursing Home ‘Transforms’ Elderly Residents,” June 16, 2015

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Image Source: U.S. Department of Education

Image Source: U.S. Department of Education

 

Across the country, elected officials are calling for more preschool programs. Mayors, governors, members of Congress, and the president are calling for higher quality and more access.

Despite this rhetoric, what’s missing is a strong financial investment in early education and care.

The result: “too many children enter kindergarten a year or more behind their classmates in academic and social-emotional skills. For some children, starting out school from behind can trap them in a cycle of continuous catch-up in their learning,” according to “A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America,” a new report from the U.S. Department of Education.

To rectify this situation, the report calls on Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) by, in part, creating “real equity of opportunity, starting with our youngest children.”  (more…)

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Last Week, Fort Worth, Tx., hosted a statewide summit on early learning, and public radio station KERA conducted an interview of three of the summit’s experts: a pediatrician, an economist, and a business leader, about “how early childhood programs and elementary educators can better prepare kids for academic success.”

The three interviewees are:

Dr. Neal Halfon, a pediatrics professor and director of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities

James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning, University of Chicago professor of economics, and

Robert H. Dugger, Chairman of the ReadyNation Advisory Board and Invest in Kids Working Group

The conversation covers achievement gaps, parent engagement, kindergarten readiness, and the importance of being able to play well with others.

Of these crucial social and emotional skills, Dugger says, “From the business community, we think of these more as executive skills. These are the skills that enable a person to work effectively in a team.”

“If these skills are not in place by age 5 — kindergarten entry — they frequently don’t appear. We know that addressing them before age 5 works.”

To hear more, listen to the interview. It’s posted on KERA’s website and can also be downloaded.

And consider making a comment on the interview’s webpage to stir up the conversation on the importance of high-quality early education and care.

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“Since 2004, Federal Reserve leadership—the Chairman and leadership from the regional banks—have endorsed high-quality early childhood education as a key economic development strategy,” the national nonprofit ReadyNation explains in an inspiring collection of quotations, including:

“Gaps in skills that are important for adult outcomes are observable by age 5 and tend to persist into adulthood…It makes economic sense to concentrate intensive human capital investment in the form of formal schooling on the young: The earlier workers invest, the longer they have to profit from their investments.”

Jeffrey Lacker, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, “Investing in people as an economic growth strategy.” Washington Post, July 13, 2014

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“Research increasingly has shown the importance for both individuals and the economy as a whole of both early childhood education as well as efforts to promote the lifelong acquisition of skills. The payoffs of early childhood programs can be especially high.”

Ben Bernanke, former Chair, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System, (Bernanke is currently an economist at the Brookings Institution) in a speech presented to the Southern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments, Charleston, SC. Federal Reserve Board of Governors, August 2, 2010

 

 

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Robin Roberts interviewing Michelle Obama at a previously held White House Summit on Working Families. Photo: from the White House's website.

Robin Roberts interviewing Michelle Obama at a previously held White House Summit on Working Families. Photo: from the White House’s website.

Next week, on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, the Obama administration will host a summit on early education. During the event, the president will announce which communities have won grants to help build their preschool infrastructure.

“The summit will bring together a broad coalition of philanthropic, business, education, advocacy, and elected leaders, as well as other stakeholders who are committed to expanding access to high-quality early education,” a White House press release says.

“During the summit, the President will announce the states and communities that will receive $250 million in Preschool Development Grants and $500 million in Early Head Start Child Care Partnership awards to enhance and expand preschool programs and to improve access to high-quality infant and toddler care in high-need communities.”

The president will also “highlight new private sector commitments to expand children’s early learning opportunities.”

The summit builds on the call to expand preschool that President Obama made in his 2013 State of the Union address, in which he said: (more…)

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Photo Source: Charlie Baker's Facebook page.

Photo from Charlie Baker’s Facebook page.

On January 8, 2015, Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito will be sworn in as the next governor and lieutenant governor of the commonwealth.

To prepare, Baker has been assembling a transition team to review the state’s public policy needs. So it’s a great time for early educators, program leaders, advocates and parents to talk to this emerging mix of bi-partisan leaders about the importance of high-quality preschool programs and early literacy.

Polito, a former state representative, will chair the transition team. And Jim Peyser will lead the transition team. Peyser served as the former chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education and as a special adviser to Governor William Weld.

A State House News article posted on WBUR’s website reports that Baker has created the following committees:

• Schools
• Jobs and the Economy
• State of the State
• Better Government
• Community
• Human Resources, and
• Healthcare

The schools committee will be co-chaired by: (more…)

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Image: Courtesy of Tim Bartik

Image: Courtesy of Tim Bartik

One of the most energizing reads of the fall season is Tim Bartik’s new book, “From Preschool to Prosperity: The Economic Payoff to Early Childhood Education.”

“Wouldn’t it be great if there was some feasible policy that could boost the American economy and enlarge opportunities for more of our children?” Bartik, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute, asks on page one.

Well: “we’re in luck. Our economic future and our children’s future can be significantly improved by expanding high-quality early childhood education programs, such as pre-K education.”

“People should see themselves as part of a historic movement,” Bartik said of early education advocates in a recent interview. In the history of education, he explained, there was the common school movement, the high school movement, school desegregation — and now there’s the expansion of high-quality preschool programs. (more…)

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