Report sets forth early learning recommendations

Education organizations have joined together to support alignment of preschool through third grade education.

A comprehensive alignment of preschool through third grade (P-3) education is critical in ensuring that children develop a solid foundation in literacy, math, and social-emotional skills, according to a new report that offers recommendations for high-quality P-3 initiatives.

“The Importance of Aligning Pre-K through 3rd Grade,” released by the Pre-K Coalition, which includes the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association (NSBA), details best practices for improving early learning.

The report comes as the Obama administration has just awarded $500 million in Race to the Top funding to nine states to help make early learning programs more accessible and better capable of narrowing the achievement gap between those who start kindergarten without any formal schooling and those who do.…Read More

Utah schools chief urges investments in early childhood, technology

During his annual State of Education speech Oct. 6, state Superintendent Larry Shumway said Utah schools have achieved a lot with limited funding, but more money should be invested in areas such as early childhood education and technology to sustain and build upon schools’ success, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. “There will be unacceptable declines in the quality of education if we don’t provide the financial resources necessary to support our children in their schools,” Shumway said. He outlined four key areas for investment: early childhood education, expanded kindergarten, and support for early grades; technology; aligning curriculum to meet work force needs; and teacher ability. For example, he said, he plans to invite school districts and charter schools to apply for up to $50,000 for projects that demonstrate “innovative applications of technology.” He’ll use the results from pilot projects to make recommendations to lawmakers. State Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, called Shumway’s speech inspiring, saying he liked “that [Shumway] is asking for additional strategic investments, rather than the old method of just asking for a blanket increase in education funding.” But Kory Holdaway, government relations director for the Utah Education Association, said he didn’t think Shumway was direct enough on the need for more education funding. Holdaway pointed to a Utah Foundation report released last week, which showed that Utah students most often rank last on the National Assessment of Educational Progress when compared to states with similar ethnic makeups, parental education levels, and poverty rates…

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Business group urges support for early childhood programs

A report shows that interventions early in life have a higher rate of return.
A report shows that interventions early in life have a higher rate of return.

The Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW), a nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has issued a new report called “Ready, Set, Go: How Business Should Support Early Childhood Education.” The report makes a compelling business case for why U.S. companies should invest in early childhood programs in their communities.

“Research shows that investments in high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five yield high returns, including increased earnings and decreased use of social services,” said Karen Elzey, vice president of ICW. “Achieving a world-class education system and creating a highly-skilled workforce begins with high-quality early learning opportunities.”

Interventions early in life have a higher rate of return than later interventions, the report says. It cites research showing gains among participants of early childhood programs so significant that “they have resulted in positive outcomes through adulthood.” Specifically, participants in early childhood education were less likely to be involved in criminal activity or be arrested; less likely to rely on social services, such as welfare; less likely to have children out of wedlock; and more likely than nonparticipants to earn more, own a home, or own a second car.…Read More

Fate of Early Learning Challenge Fund remains in doubt

Early learning programs help prepare children for later academic success.
Early learning programs help prepare children for later academic success.

Advocates of early childhood education continue to fight for a federal initiative that was intended to challenge states to develop effective, innovative models that promote early childhood programs.

The program, called the Early Learning Challenge Fund (ELCF), was authorized by Congress in September 2009 but was never funded.

Lawmakers had committed $8 billion for the program as part of a larger bill to overhaul college student aid, but in last-minute maneuvering designed to get the measure to pass in March, the $8 billion in ELCF funding was eliminated from the bill’s final version.…Read More

States slash early childhood programs as budgets bleed

Arizona has proposed cutting early childhood programs entirely, while Illinois plans to cut $48 million from its programs.
Arizona has proposed cutting early childhood programs entirely, while Illinois plans to cut $48 million from its programs.

States are cutting hundreds of millions from their early childhood education budgets, undermining years of working to help young children—particularly poor kids—get ready for school.

States are slashing nearly $350 million from their pre-kindergarten programs by next year, and more cuts are likely on the horizon once federal stimulus money dries up, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. The reductions mean fewer slots for children, teacher layoffs, and even fewer services for needy families who can’t afford high-quality private preschool programs.

One state—Arizona—has proposed eliminating its 5,500-child program entirely. Illinois cut $32 million from last fiscal year’s early childhood education budget and plans to slash another $48 million this year.…Read More

$20 billion in ed funding slashed from student aid legislation

Funding for an online course program was cut out of the final student aid bill.
$500 million in proposed funding to create open online courses was cut out of the final student aid bill.

In last-minute maneuvering designed to get the measure to pass, lawmakers eliminated $20 billion in proposed education funding from the student aid overhaul enacted by Congress last week—dampening enthusiasm for legislation that K-12 and higher-education officials had lobbied for over the past year. Of that $20 billion, $12 billion was slated for community colleges to boost graduation rates, partly through the development of open online courses, and $8 billion was pegged for an early-childhood education program.

Community college officials cheered the American Graduation Initiative (AGI) when lawmakers introduced the program last fall, but last-minute compromises and worries over the cost of the student aid bill forced legislators to eliminate the $12 billion set aside for AGI, observers said. The program aimed to help community colleges produce 5 million more graduates over the next decade.

AGI had included $500 million for an online skills laboratory modeled after Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI). The free, open internet classes were to be created by the Departments of Defense, Education, and Labor, according to a White House announcement.…Read More