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Archive for the ‘Demographics’ Category

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

 

“Americans do not know that up to a million childcare teachers today are at-risk for functional illiteracy,” Elizabeth Gilbert explains in a recent Washington Post blog.

These adults can end up “mirroring” their social disadvantages to the children they work with, according to Gilbert, who is the coordinator of the “Learn at Work Early Childhood Educator Program Labor” in the Labor Management Workplace Education Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

As we blogged last year, Gilbert is calling for dynamic change.

“After working for nearly two decades in community-based childcare settings in disadvantaged communities in Massachusetts, mirrors became a way for me to comprehend what I was seeing, and to capture and reveal this world in a way that others could understand,” Gilbert writes in the Post blog. (more…)

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Graphic: Child Care Aware of America

Graphic: Child Care Aware of America

The national nonprofit Child Care Aware of America is tolling the bell on the high cost of child care. The organization has just released “Parents and the High Cost of Child Care 2015 Report.”

The need for child care is considerable. “In the United States, an estimated 11 million children under the age of five spend an average of 36 hours per week in child care.”

However: “For many, the high cost of child care is one of the initial shocks of becoming a parent,” the report says. And sadly, the high cost of many child care programs does not guarantee high quality.

Expenses vary by region.

“The cost of full-time center-based care for two children is the highest single household expense in the Northeast and Midwest. In the West and the South, the cost of child care for two children is surpassed only by the cost of housing in the average family budget.” (more…)

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Photo: Rylie Robinson for Strategies for Children

Photo: Rylie Robinson for Strategies for Children

“’Data! data! data!’ he cried impatiently. ‘I can’t make bricks without clay.’”

-Sherlock Holmes, in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s story, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

*     *     *

In the field of early education, policymakers, practitioners, and researchers are all searching for good reliable data. Indeed, our ambitious, system-building goals require lots of data.

Take a look at K-12. Never before has that sector been so awash in data or so focused on using data to make informed decisions about teaching and learning. And data also fuels discussions about school and district accountability.

However, the data landscape is much different in the birth-5 early education space where simply asking “Where are all the 4-year-olds?” can quickly send you on a wild goose chase.

This lack of data can be as frustrating for local community leaders looking to improve preschool enrollment or kindergarten readiness as it is for state-level policymakers eager to measure the impact of state investments.

(more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

The city of Cambridge, Mass., has released its “Early Childhood Task Force Report 2015.” It’s a comprehensive look at how the city can build an early childhood system that improves the lives of its youngest children.

“We should be breaking open bottles of champagne. This is fulfilling hopes and dreams of so many people in Cambridge,” school committee member Fred Fantini said, according to a Wicked Local Cambridge article, which adds:

“The task force [has] developed a three-year-plan to improve early childhood education that would require an intended budget of $190,000 in 2016, $1.3 million in 2017, and $2.3 million in 2018. In the first year of the plan, the money would go towards affordability of early childhood services, program quality, and governance. In 2017 and 2018, family engagement and health care will be included in the budget costs as well.”

In a memo, City Manager Richard C. Rossi explains that the task force did its work with this powerful vision in mind:

“All children in Cambridge receive high quality early education and care from birth through third grade. As a result, all children enter school ready to thrive academically, socially, emotionally and continue to do so through third grade and beyond.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Bilingual education has had a bumpy history, but now educators increasingly see the power of this approach. Educating children in both their native language and the language of their new homes helps them thrive.

Seventeen years ago, the opposition against bilingual programs — now more commonly known as dual language programs — was fierce.

“In 1998, Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley millionaire and former gubernatorial candidate, set out to abolish bilingual education in California. Fueled by an anti-immigrant climate, Unz spearheaded a statewide campaign for Proposition 227, a highly controversial state initiative that required schools to teach language-minority students almost entirely in English,” an article in the Atlantic says of the recent policy history. (more…)

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