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Photo source: Mayor Bill de Blasio's Flickr account

Photo source: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Flickr account

“With the clock ticking down, about half of the allotted seats available in New York City for pre-kindergarten classes have been filled up,” CBS News reported yesterday. “More than 37,000 families have signed up for pre-K since enrollment began last week.”

“Families have until April 24 to enroll for fall classes.”

This impressive enrollment is the result of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to vastly expand pre-K in his city.

As we blogged last year, de Blasio “put preschool in the news by calling for a universal program for all 4-year-olds funded by tax increases. What New York City got was a political compromise: state funding to launch the mayor’s plans.”

But this was enough for de Blasio to turn his plans into action. And last September, a New York Times editorial praised the mayor’s efforts, saying:

“The start of public school on Thursday in New York City should be the usual merry scramble of chattering children and stressed (or relieved) parents. There will also be something new: a fresh crop of 4-year-olds, more than 50,000, embarking on the first day of free, full-day, citywide, city-run prekindergarten.

“It’s worth pausing to note what an accomplishment this is. Fifty thousand is a small city’s worth of children, each getting a head start on a lifetime of learning. It is so many families saving the cost of day care or private prekindergarten. It is a milestone of education reform.”  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Texas is taking a hard look at its preschool program. The Lone Star state serves some 225,000 children, making it the biggest program in the country. But progress on quality lags.

“Though the program continues to grow in size, efforts to improve funding and program quality have stalled,” according to a press release from NIEER’s State of Preschool 2013 report. “The state ranks 30th out of 41 states providing pre-K for state spending per child, and meets only two of NIEER’s 10 quality standards benchmarks.” They are:

• having comprehensive early learning standards, and,

• providing teachers with at least 15 hours per year of in-service training

“The state currently pays for half-day pre-kindergarten for students from low-income, English-language learning, military and foster families. That comes to about $800 million a year,” the Texas Tribune reports(more…)

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Educators in West Michigan are tackling third grade reading proficiency by pooling their resources to form the Reading Now Network Initiative. And a recently conducted field team study suggests that intensive efforts are paying off.

Reading proficiency is also getting attention from Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who has called for new efforts to boost reading outcomes.

West Michigan’s Efforts

Launched last year, Reading Now is “the collective effort of superintendents, school boards, [and] local and intermediate school districts throughout West Michigan to improve early literacy and, ultimately, student achievement across all grade levels,” according to a fact sheet(more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Federally funded home visiting programs have gotten a vote of confidence from a recent report.

Unfortunately, funding for this important program is being held up in Congress.

“The federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting, or MIECHV, program has supported high-risk families in communities across the country through intensive home visiting services since 2010,” according to the report, “An Investment in Our Future: How Federal Home Visiting Funding Provides Critical Support for Parents and Children.”

Released by CLASP (the Center for Law and Social Policy) and the Center for American Progress, the report is based on interviews with officials from 20 states and two tribal organizations.

Support from the States

The program has widespread local support, as a recent op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune shows:

“Sometimes it can be easy to forget there are such pressing needs in Utah… Our business community, economy, and government regularly receive national recognition for their well-deserved successes,” writes Kirk L. Jowers, the University of Utah’s Director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics.  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Next month, join NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children) for its “Week of the Young Child 2015: Celebrating Our Youngest Learners,” from April 12th to the 18th, 2015.

First established in 1971, the purpose of this annual celebration is to “focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families” and “to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.”

Each day of the Week of the Young Child (WOYC) has a different theme:

Music Monday highlights the educational power of songs by inviting children and families to sing along with “Thingamajig,” a tune sung by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band.

Taco Tuesday emphasizes the fun of cooking healthy meals together for good nutrition and to show how cooking can be used to connect math, literacy, and science skills.  (more…)

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Seattle is starting a universal preschool program — and getting implementation advice from Boston.

As the city explains on its website, “On November 4, 2014, Seattle voters approved Proposition 1B (Ordinance 124509), which will fund the four-year demonstration phase of the Seattle Preschool Program, and build toward serving 2,000 children in 100 classrooms by 2018.”

We blogged about it here.

Fourteen classes are expected to start in the fall.

Last year, “a high-level delegation from Seattle, including the mayor, school board members, a representative from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and City Council President Tim Burgess, toured the Boston system,” NPR reported.

“‘They’ve done an amazing job here,’ Burgess said. ‘We want to replicate that in Seattle.’”

This year, “Jason Sachs, the Director of Early Childhood Education with Boston Public Schools, gave a presentation to Seattle City Council’s education committee,” according to public radio station KPLU, which adds: “the City is getting a lot of advice from Boston. That city, which is home to world renowned universities, is also considered a national leader in early childhood education since it launched its preschool program in 2005.”  (more…)

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“The majority of my students this year have attended preschool. And I have not had a classroom like this — ever.”

Lori Shabazz, the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teaching Award winner in 2014 and a kindergarten teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Alexandria, VA., where U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Learning Libby Doggett recently visited.

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