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“Early-childhood education is one of the few spots where Singapore is not yet a world leader. In 2012 the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Singapore 29th in the world in terms of its early-childhood education system; the United States ranked 24th. Yet the reaction between the two countries could not be starker. What went largely unremarked in the U.S. became an urgent national call to action in Singapore. As a result, the government has announced new funding initiatives for subsidies for parents and childcare centers, new sources of scholarship money for teachers, and the creation of new preschools and kindergartens.”

“Inspiring a World of Good Through Early-Childhood Education in Singapore,” a Huffington Post article by Jackie Jenkins-Scott, president of Wheelock College, January 29, 2015

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

“To Rescue Economy, Japan Turns to Supermom,” a New York Times headline announced earlier this month.

One of those supermoms is Chiaki Kitajima, an advertising executive in Tokyo. She told the Times that when she was pregnant with the first of her three sons, “her bosses were shocked that rather than accept reduced hours and a demotion after maternity leave, she made a presentation on why the company should subsidize child care.”

“I had to fight to convince them that supporting me was a good investment,” Kitajima said. She is currently “the creative director of her advertising agency but says mothers at her professional level remain rare.”

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to change that by creating circumstances that encourage “Japanese women to have it all.”

An article on the Huffington Post website adds: “Currently, 50 to 60 percent of Japanese women quit work after giving birth. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new initiative, dubbed ‘womenomics,’ aims to break down traditional male-oriented corporate culture and make it easier for women to keep jobs and advance their careers while raising children.”  (more…)

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“We Americans love children.

“Indeed, we love them so much that, on average, child care workers earn almost as much per hour ($10.33) as workers who care for animals ($10.82), according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley.

“We love them so much that only 38 percent of American 3-year-olds are enrolled in education programs. The average is 70 percent among the 34 industrialized countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“So if politicians are genuinely looking for a bipartisan issue to break through the Washington gridlock, here’s a suggestion: invest in early education.”

“Do Politicians Love Kids?” by New York Times Op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof, November 19, 2014

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Image: Courtesy of UNESCO

Image: Courtesy of UNESCO

This coming Monday (September 8, 2014) is International Literacy Day. Sponsored by UNESCO, the goal of this annual event, which has been celebrated since 1966, is to “mobilize international public opinion” and solicit support for literacy activities that help children and adults lead more vital and informed lives. This year’s theme is “Literacy and Sustainable Development.”

Although rates of illiteracy are dropping, the challenge remains: Some 781 million people around the globe are illiterate, according to UNESCO, and nearly two-thirds of this group are women. “The lowest literacy rates are observed in sub-Saharan Africa and in South and West Asia.”

Boosting literacy is critical. As former UN Secretary Kofi Annan said in 2005, “Literacy is a key lever of change and a practical tool of empowerment on each of the three main pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development and environmental protection.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

We’ve recently updated our Strategies for Children research and policy briefs, adding new content and updating existing briefs. This “Briefs and Resources” webpage is a one-stop-shopping site for much of the existing research on high-quality early education, culled from decades of published studies by experts in child development, economics, language development, and more. Here’s a sample of the information you can find on pre-K, full-day kindergarten, early educators, and reading proficiency.

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“Evaluations of State-Funded Pre-K Programs:” is a new brief that looks at the impact of several currently operating, state-funded pre-K programs.

“As the number of children served through state-based pre-K programming has increased, so has the evidence base of program effectiveness,” this brief explains. A growing collection of studies support “the overall conclusion that effective pre-K programming can improve academic and social-emotional outcomes for students in both the short and long term.”

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(more…)

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Photo: Strategies for Children

Photo: Strategies for Children

Here are some recent tweets from the early education Twittersphere. Follow us @EarlyEd4All.

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A report on infant and toddler child care policies.

CLASP ‏@CLASP_DC

Quality #ChildCare is ESSENTIAL to kids’ healthy development & parents’ ability to #work. http://bit.ly/18bPF6n  #EarlyEd #LaborDay

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Sequestration’s toll on Head Start.

National Head Start ‏@NatlHeadStart

Sequestration Impairs Futures of At-Risk Children http://huff.to/1fn4u8F  via @HuffPostPol

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W.K. Kellogg Foundation grants available for family engagement.

The Hechinger Report ‏@hechingerreport

Family Engagement Focus of $5 million Kellogg Foundation Investment http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/early_years/2013/08/family_engagement_focus_of_5_million_kellogg_foundation_investment.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-TW … via @educationweek re @WK_Kellogg_Fdn #earlyed

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(more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Last year, the Starting Well Index was launched by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a part of the company that publishes The Economist magazine. The index “ranks the preschool environments in 45 countries.” These nations encompass “the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and major emerging markets,” according to the unit’s report, which was commissioned by the Singapore-based Lien Foundation.

The index takes a global look at preschool quality, availability and affordability, and shows that the world has a great deal of progress to make. This includes the United States, which ranks 24th overall, lagging behind several European and Asian countries, New Zealand and Israel.

“Consciously setting aside a time to stimulate young children’s development is a relatively new phenomenon. Until the 1980s, preschools in most countries were largely focused on providing simple child minding,” the report says. “But as economies shift towards more knowledge-based activities, awareness about child development—the need to improve their social awareness, confidence and group interaction skills, and to prepare them for starting primary education—continues to grow.” (more…)

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