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Archive for the ‘Achievement gap’ Category

Paul Tucker

Photo from Rep. Paul Tucker’s Facebook page

Each year for five years, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has run an Early Learning Fellows program: a dynamic effort that’s designed for emerging leaders – legislators and legislative staff members.

“The program is geared toward those chairing or serving on human services, education or appropriations committees who want to expand their knowledge and learn from other legislators and experts across the country,” NCSL explains on its website.

The training is important because, “States have been leading efforts to improve the quality of child care, implementing preschool and innovative ways to support families with young children across the age spectrum from birth to kindergarten and into the early grades. They are also addressing challenges with governance, financing, data systems and teacher training/professional development.”

This year’s class includes State Representative Paul Tucker (D-Salem), as well state legislators from California, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wyoming. (more…)

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“There’s progress, but…”

That’s the theme of the new “The State of Preschool” 2015 Yearbook, published by NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research).

On NIEER’s Preschool Matters blog, in a post called “Slow and (Un)Steady Does Not Win the Race: What Other States Should Learn from New York,” W. Steven Barnett, NIEER’s director, shares his frustration with the troublingly slow pace of policy action. (We’ve added the bold face and underlining for emphasis.)

“The economist John Maynard Keynes famously wrote: ‘The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.’ Typically, this phrase is cited to support government intervention over waiting for the eventually self-correcting private sector. As this year’s State of Preschool marks 14 years of tracking state government support for preschool education, I find myself citing Keynes in exasperation with the slow pace of government intervention. At the current rate, it will be another 50 years before states can reach all low-income children at age four, and it will take 150 years to reach 75 percent of all four-year-olds.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Robert Putnam was back on WGBH several weeks ago talking about the hurdles that many children from poorer families can face.

As we blogged last year, Putnam’s book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” looks at “the inequality gap in the United States, drawing on both Putnam’s personal experiences and his academic research.” Putnam is a professor of public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

For his book, Putnam returned to his hometown of Port Clinton, Ohio. What he found was a local example of national trend: Wealth matters much now than it did when Putnam was young. Poorer children are struggling more.

“… all of these kids in this book are heart-rending stories because they – through no fault of their own – find themselves in circumstances in which they don’t have a chance in life, honestly. And they did nothing to cause that problem,” Putnam tells WGBH radio hosts Margery Eagan and Jim Braude.

Putnam spoke of Andrew and Kayla, two children in his book who live several miles apart, but exist in different universes. Andrew’ world is wealthy and stable, while Kayla faces poverty and greater vulnerability to upheaval. (Putnam’s section of the radio show runs from 1:18:49 to roughly 1:45:53.) (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

California has plenty of sunshine, beaches, and cable cars, but not enough children in preschool.

More than 33,000 4-year-olds from low-income families and some 137,000 3-year-olds “are not enrolled in any of the publicly-funded school readiness program for which they are eligible,” according to a new policy brief — Unmet Need for Preschool Services in California: Statewide and Local Analysis — from the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

“California is home to more young children than any other state in the nation, and we are missing an opportunity to reduce achievement gaps when they are best addressed – before children start kindergarten,” Deborah Kong, the president of the advocacy organization Early Edge California, said in a press release. “The high number of unserved children shows state policies and investments must catch up to their unmet needs. Policymakers should consider the children and families behind the statistics in this report, and increase investments in quality early education.” (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

A letter from Massachusetts Fair Share and a statewide, bipartisan group of 136 city councilors, selectmen, and school board officials calls on Massachusetts to lead by investing more funds in early education.

“When it comes to early education, we’re falling behind,” the letter says. “While states like Oklahoma guarantee a year of public preschool for every child, Massachusetts state spending on early education and care has declined by 50% since 2001.”

On its website, Massachusetts Fair Share explains:

“Along with the 60 other groups in the Put MA Kids First coalition, we are calling for increased investments in early learning programs, anchored in a quality workforce. One of the top issues that the field of early education and care has identified is a dramatic drop in the number of early education programs, and alarmingly high turnover of the early educator workforce.” (more…)

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School leaders are expanding their commitment to early education by promoting a new set of policy recommendations. It’s an enhanced allegiance between pre-K and K-12 that promises to yield important progress for children.

“While state chiefs do not have full authority over all early childhood programs, we are crucial leaders in any effort to strengthen early learning opportunities and outcomes,” according to a new policy statement from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) called, “Equity Starts Early: How Chiefs Will Build High-Quality Early Education.”

CCSSO represents the “public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

A recent study shows that home visiting programs can dramatically improve children’s school readiness.

The study report — “Long-Term Academic Outcomes of Participation in the Parent-Child Home Program in King County, WA,” — explains:

“The Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) is an intensive two-year home-visiting program aimed at increasing school readiness among young children from families who face multiple obstacles to educational and economic success, such as poverty, low literacy, limited education, and language barriers.”

Families enroll “when children are about two years old and receive two 30-minute visits per week for 23 weeks in each year of the program, for a total of 92 visits.”

The home visitor “shares a language and cultural background with the family” and “uses a non-directive approach and a high-quality toy or book, which is left as a gift for the family, to model behaviors for parents that enhance children’s development.” (more…)

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