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“Tackling chronic absenteeism, providing early childhood education and improving third-grade reading would increase graduation rates in Mississippi, the Republican chairman of the Mississippi Senate Education Committee said last night.

“Sen. Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, also cited a link between low third-grade reading proficiency and the high likelihood of dropping out. ‘You’ve got to look back and say, “Where do we go to make the changes that need to happen?”’ Tollison said. ‘And it starts early; it doesn’t happen in high school. It doesn’t start when they turn 15 or 13; it starts when they’re born.’”

“GOP Leaders: Invest in Early Education, Reading to Raise Graduation Rates,” The Jackson Free Press, December 1, 2016

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

In a new policy brief, The Center on American Progress (CAP) is calling on governors to take executive action on early education.

“Governors can become early childhood leaders by setting a vision for early learning and adopting it as a key agenda item,” the center says.

Governors’ toolkits include executive orders, state agency directives, budget proposals, and working “with their legislatures to prioritize state investments in young children.”

Consider the story of former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt who had served for two terms. In the early 1990s, Hunt was out for a walk in the woods when he saw a small child near a poor shack trying to drink from an empty bottle. “This is the child we need to be helping,” Hunt recalls thinking in the book “The Sandbox Investment: The Preschool Movement and Kids-First Politics,” by University of California-Berkeley’s public policy professor David L. Kirp. The sight of this child made Hunt wonder how the state of North Carolina could help this child. Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The First Five Years Fund is planning for next year’s new political season by looking ahead.

“Across the political spectrum, policymakers acknowledge the importance of investing in our children’s earliest years – and looking beyond the election, this bipartisan support provides a significant opportunity to enact early childhood solutions that benefit children in the most need,” the Fund says on its website.

“We must work with lawmakers of both parties and the Trump Administration, building upon progress made over the last several years to increase access to high-quality early learning and care.”

To get this work started, the Fund released an “Early Childhood Education Policy Framework,” that explains how “the Trump Administration and incoming Congress could create a well-financed continuum of high-quality early learning and care for children from birth through age five.” The Fund praises cost-effective measures such as “improving existing programs, addressing concerns of quality and cost, and building better partnerships between the federal government, states, and local communities.”

The Fund’s goal is simple: “Ensure more children have access to high-quality early learning and care.”

The reasoning is clear: “All children need high-quality early childhood development, but low-income children are the least likely to get it.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

A new study from the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy has found that “North Carolina’s investment in early child care and education programs resulted in higher test scores, less grade retention and fewer special education placements through fifth grade,” according to a Duke University news release.

The study looked at the children who attended the state’s two flagship early childhood programs, Smart Start and More at Four, between 1988 and 2000. Researchers also examined the entire population of children “more than 1 million North Carolina public school students born between 1988 and 2000,” which allowed them to estimate “spillover effects” of the early childhood programs onto the child population at-large (more on “spillover effects” below).

One research query was whether the programs “provided long-lasting benefits for children, or if previously seen positive results diminished by the end of elementary school.” Continue Reading »

“Sometimes, this sexism is overt. A recent New York Times article about early childhood workers struggling to make ends meet quoted a child care worker who was told… [by] a state legislator that, ‘You don’t get into this for money, you’re paid in love.’ Other advocates have told me of policymakers who believe that early childhood educators don’t need more money because they aren’t ‘breadwinners’ – a perception that data disputes.”

“Confront Sexism in Child Care: We need to talk about how sexism contributes to a lack of prestige and low pay for ‘women’s work,’” by Sara Mead, U.S. News & World Report, November 17, 2016

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

“Expulsion is a punishment no preschooler should have to experience,” Kate Abbott writes in a recent Preschool Matters blog posted by NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research).

Abbott, the director of Early Education at the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, points to four “evidence-based points” that policymakers and early educators should keep in mind as the nation expands preschool:

• “Children who exhibit challenging behavior have the best chance of learning appropriate social skills when they are identified early and provided with effective interventions.”

• “Children who are not able to access interventions before age 8 are much more resistant to change.”

• “Schools and early education programs that are proactive and systemic in addressing the academic, behavioral and social emotional needs of students have greater success.”

• “A wealth of research exists identifying effective strategies for supporting students with challenging behavior at both a class and individual level.”

Continue Reading »

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

Enjoy the holiday.

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