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Govenor Deal, don't Cut Pre-k

 

in  Parenting Articles |  February 10th, 2011 at 6:56 am

 

Gov. Deal, don’t cut pre-K

WASHINGTON — For nearly two decades, Georgia was hailed as an educational innovator because of its merit-based college scholarships and its pre-kindergarten classes. Funded with lottery proceeds, the HOPE scholarship and the pre-K program help former Gov. Zell Miller lay claim to a game-changing legacy. Georgia was the first state to offer free kindergarten to all 4-year-olds.

And the state’s pre-K classes have been more than a cheap babysitting service. In 2009, a study by the National Institute for Early Education Research concluded that Georgia’s pre-K program was well run, meeting 8 of 10 benchmarks for quality. Its high ratio of teachers to children and its small class sizes were among the features that earned high marks.

But Miller’s educational legacy is now under assault, a victim of its success and flat-lining lottery proceeds. With legislators considering cuts to the HOPE scholarship, Gov. Nathan Deal has announced that he also wants to slash nearly $20 million from the pre-K program, a decision that will certainly affect the program’s quality.

Georgia faces a gaping budget shortfall, and Deal has to pare back state spending. But his proposal to cut pre-K is shortsighted and wrong-headed — exactly backwards. Deal is sacrificing the state’s future at a time when educational standards need to be raised, not lowered. President Obama has repeatedly emphasized higher academic attainment as a key to continued economic prosperity.

Experts in early childhood development have come to understand that the earliest years are critical to a child’s intellectual development. Children who get extra attention during those years — help with vocabulary, reading, colors, shapes, motor skills — are much more likely to do well throughout their academic careerse. If you want to assure a solid educational foundation, you should offer children a high-quality learning environment before first grade.

“We don’t need another study to tell us the importance of early childhood education,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told me. “These are extraordinarily tough times, but I think where we cut quality or cut access, the long-term implications are huge. We need to think of education as an investment.”

For all the accolades it has received, Georgia’s pre-K program has never been as good as it should have been. To start, it has never been “universal” because its popularity exceeds the number of available slots. There’s always a waiting list. And its budget has not kept up with inflation. That means further cuts will likely do serious damage.

Because pre-K is so popular with parents (read, “voters”), Deal has said that he will protect the 84,000 pre-K slots that are  currently available. That means Bright from the Start, the state agency which operates pre-K, will likely have to cut teachresand raise class sizes.

And the agency won’t have the luxury to even consider strengthening teacher education — an area where Georgia’s pre-K program doesn’t earn high marks. Experts in early childhood education say that having highly-skilled pre-kindergarten teachers can affect students  — and their earnings — well into adulthood.

Given the importance of the pre-school years, it’s no surprise that state Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, recommends that the state scrimp on college rather than pre-K. “If I could, I would put two-thirds of the money from the lottery into pre-k and one-third into the HOPE scholarship,” Millar, chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

He’s right. The HOPE scholarship has become an enormously popular middle-class entitlement. Cutting it as sharply as Millar suggests would require an act of political hara-kiri (cq).

Instead, the Georgia Legislature should require means-testing for pre-K classes, so they benefit the students who need them most. Georgia’s upper-middle-class parents have the financial resources to provide high-quality child care, classes and trips to museums and puppet shows — even for toddlers.

But working class kids rarely get those perks at home.

Since Georgia’s future will depend on high educational attainment from thousands of toddlers living in working class homes, the state needs to make sure they, too, are “Bright from the Start.”

178 commentsAdd your comment

Georgian

February 9th, 2011
12:22 pm

Isn’t it nice of good ole Cindy to worry bout us Georgians from up there in D.C……

Georgian

February 9th, 2011
12:22 pm

Georgian

February 9th, 2011
12:24 pm

Working class kids Cindy? Or kids parents who don’t work?

Rafe Hollister

February 9th, 2011
12:28 pm

I think money spent on early education trumps money wasted educating a bunch of smart axs teenagers that think they know everything anyway. Maybe we should eliminate the 12th grade as it seems to be more social than educational. Many of these kids that want to go to college are already qualified and could just move on, but hang back to party with their friends. Use the money saved by eliminating the 12th grade to return to more trade oriented program for those not wishing to attend college.

The days of a college education guaranteeing you a well paying job with a good company are over.

El Jefe

February 9th, 2011
12:31 pm

Back in the old days, Kindergarten was an option for children to acclimate to the learning process.

What does Pre-K do?

It appears it is another entitlement – subsidized day care for little ones. I guess it help but is it really needed?

0311/0317 -1811/1801

February 9th, 2011
12:32 pm

Cynthia:

Guess what? My generation didn’t have it and we did just fine. Heck, I didn’t even go to kindergarten!

In times of sever budget crises, it should be one of the first things to go.

I also believe, it’s just a glorified, government baby-sitting service anyway despite your claims otherwise. I’m surprised you’re not pushing for some program right out of the birthing hospital !

0311/0317 -1811/1801

February 9th, 2011
12:33 pm

Excuse me: “severe”

Keep up the good fight!

February 9th, 2011
12:35 pm

Scout, if you are the example of a generation of Georgian doing just fine, we definitely need more education for our youth. Crikes!

Georgian

February 9th, 2011
12:40 pm

Keep,

As do you.

AmVet

February 9th, 2011
12:45 pm

Ms. Tucker, excellent article.

The Crooked Deal is likely going to make Sonny Purdue look like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln all rolled into one.

Utterly misguided and of highly questionable ethics, this governor is already an embarrassment. Even by southern Republican standards.

But he knows his “base”.

Vilify the weak and glorify the wicked…

Keep up the good fight!

February 9th, 2011
12:49 pm

Georgian, sorry, your comment makes no sense. Besides I have not held myself out to be an example of Georgia’s education system doing just fine. I also dont believe that my beliefs are facts.

But let’s be precise. I believe Scout was educated in his very young years in a segregated system in the 1950’s or 1960s. That is representative of Georgia’s education doing fine? As for the religious hatred spewed against a religion or group. You got me. Yep, that is consistent with the education at that time for many. Many also rose above it because it was not just fine.

Georgian

February 9th, 2011
12:50 pm

AmVet,

And Im sure you have validation to support your slander against Gov. Deal? You sir are the embarrassment with your jealousy of the governor. Southern Republican? Does that have the same derogatory meaning that Southern Democrat used to have?

Excellent article. The article hardly had substance and lacked in jouralistic style or appeal. Left much to be desired from the Copy and Paste Queen.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 9th, 2011
12:51 pm

Disagree. Cut it.

Georgian

February 9th, 2011
12:52 pm

Keep,

 

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The Budget VS. Education

 

in  Parenting Articles |  February 10th, 2011 at 8:48 am

 The budget vs education
by Martha Vance Brown
22 hrs ago | 123 views | 0 0 comments |  | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
 
 
Can North Carolina afford to ignore pre-school children, their ability to learn and become productive adults?

That’s a question legislators should ask themselves as the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services starts work on the 2012 budget.

Yes, the state faces a $3.7 billion shortfall between projected revenues and the current government service levels. And yes, cuts have to be made – but not at a cost to children, which translates into a long-term negative impact to our state’s future.

If there ever was a time for politics to be set aside, it is now. 

Smart Start and More at Four have been the target of questioning by Republicans for years, not surprising since Smart Start was an initiative of Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt in the 1990s and Democratic Gov. Mike Easley later started More at Four.

North Carolina’s future depends on today’s children, and Smart Start and More at Four provide the services that foster the health and well-being of those children. The John Locke Foundation has called Smart Start an “expensive baby-sitting program” and “government-sponsored nannies,” but that’s hogwash from an entity that hasn’t done its due diligence.

Smart Start funds a myriad of programs geared to ensuring that children start kindergarten prepared to learn. Those programs range from medical support to physical and emotional therapies for children who are behind their peers as infants and toddlers, to child care subsidy for low-income families, teen parenting skills, literacy classes and so much more.

Up to 90 percent of a person’s brain develops during the first three years of life. This is the time when we should provide the greatest support to children.

Numerous studies have proved that children who start kindergarten behind their peers are more likely to remain behind their peers. Unprepared children also are more likely to drop out of school, require welfare funding in adulthood, be unable to hold a well-paying job and become involved in crime. 

Bottom line? We can fund children’s support services now or we can pay a whole lot more later when the children become unprepared and jobless adults.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce offers an ominous warning about the future of American business if significant changes to early education aren’t made. 

“With current early childhood education resource levels, too many Kindergartners will continue to begin school ill-prepared, language skills and achievement scores in math and reading will likely remain at mediocre levels, costs for interventions during the K-12 years and after will continue to rise, high school graduation rates and post-secondary degree completion rates will likely remain unchanged, and businesses will lack the necessary workforce to fill the jobs of the future,” a Chamber report states.

If the Chamber says the status quo isn’t good enough, imagine its opinion of funding cuts to children’s services.

It is in our state’s best interest to maintain investments in the early education system. North Carolina’s prosperity depends on our ability to ensure that all children have the opportunity to develop intellectually, socially and emotionally. A child with a solid foundation becomes part of a solid community and contributes to our society

Martha Vance Brown is the executive director for the Richmond County Partnership for Children.
 


Read more: Richmond County Daily Journal - The budget vs education 

 

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Is Early Childhood Education Worth the Money? Many Researchers say, "Yes!"

 

in  Parenting Articles |  February 9th, 2011 at 6:57 am

 

Is early childhood education worth the money? Many researchers say yes

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011 11:43 a.m. MST
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Education is on many policy and lawmakers minds. People wonder if education is outdated. Are teachers doing enough? Are parents doing enough? But many researchers believe early childhood education is one of the best investments states can make in education.

USA Today reported late last week that not only does early childhood education benefit children, it benefits taxpayers as well by about a $4-$11 return on every $1 spent. The study was based on students in preschool programs that were followed through age 26. These children were more likely to finish high school and/or college and earn more money than their peers. They were less likely to be held back, arrested, depressed, sick or involved with drugs, the National Institutes of Health study says.

"Good preschool programs can make a strong early impression, allowing kids to thrive and become confident learners," the article states.

But during the economic downturn, states across the nation are looking at cutting back pre-k and kindergarten programs. Georgia, who was thought of as forward thinking in early childhood education, is considering cutting $20 million from the state's pre-k program, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. New Hampshire introduced a bill today that would no longer require schools to offer kindergarten, according to the Nashua Telegraph.

Utah legislatures are debating whether to continue an optional all-day kindergarten program for at-risk children, that is set to expire in July. Some Utah lawmakers don't think there is a benefit to the program that costs the state $7.5 million a year to hold 250 voluntary all-day kindergarten classes.

A New York Times article called "The Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers" from last year explored this thought a little more and found that while a Tennessee said that those who attended kindergarten outperformed their peers significantly only until junior high, these benefits of going to kindergarten re-emerged in adulthood.

"Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds," the New York Times article states. "Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more."

The article also addressed the causation-correlation aspect of the study and said that the students in the study were chosen randomly for their kindergarten classes and it seemed those with better kindergarten teachers far outperformed their peers. One researcher even estimated "that a standout kindergarten teacher is worth about $320,000 a year." That is the estimate of what additional money a full class will earn in their lifetime if they had a good kindergarten teacher.

 

 

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Early Childhood Education Funding Sensible, Affordable.

 

in  Parenting Articles |  February 9th, 2011 at 6:59 am

 

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2011

Early Childhood Education Funding Sensible, Affordable.

 
This financial year, the Government will invest $1.4 billion in Early Childhood Education (ECE). That’s an increase of $200 million over the previous financial year. So it is simply not true to say that funding for ECE has been reduced. The per-child funding of ECE is now $7600 per child per year. This compares to an average of $5528 for a primary school student and $6733 for a student at secondary school. Despite Dr Clark’s scaremongering, 20 hours free ECE is still in place.

However, while the goal of the previous Government was to increase participation in ECE, the massive increase in government funding has resulted in just a 1% increase in participation and in some parts of the country up to 40% of pre-school children are missing out on ECE. So we are making sure that funding reaches those children who need it the most. We are investing $91.8 million over the next four years in five intensive community-led participation projects in high priority areas. This will lead to an additional 3,500 places in ECE, targeted at Maori, Pasifika, and children from lower socio-economic areas.

So why all the fuss about ECE? Put simply, this is about the qualifications of the staff into whose care we entrust our children. The previous Labour Government committed to a goal of 80 % qualified ECE teachers by 2010 and 100% by 2012. This unrealistic target would have led to up to a thousand ECE centres having to close. At the moment only 67 % of teachers in the sector are registered. We amended the target to 80% by 2012.

In Budget 2010 we also announced that we would align funding to the 80% goal. Thus, prior to 1 February 2011, in a facility where the mix and age of children required say 5 staff, the Government would fund all five if they were registered teachers. After 1 February funding will be for up to four registered teachers and one unregistered staff member. The unregistered staff member could be an experienced teacher aide or parent of grown children returning to the workforce but without formal qualifications.

The staffing adjustment could be achieved by attrition. ECE centres have had eight months’ notice of this change and with the turnover in the sector of around 20%, there was plenty of opportunity to do so. Furthermore, given the demand for registered teachers, no registered teacher would be out of a job. The likely impact would be an increase in the proportion of registered teachers in those ECE centres that presently have numbers below 80%.

The union that represents ECE teachers, NZEI, cites research that qualified teachers are a key factor in the provision of quality early childhood education that provides the most benefit for children. I agree with this. However, given the care and safety aspects of ECE I have no doubt that an experienced parent or caregiver can make a meaningful contribution to an ECE facility as part of a team led by registered teachers without compromising educational outcomes.

Dunedin’s ECE facilities were faced with choices in response to the Government’s funding change. Disappointingly, some ECE centres have chosen to burden already financially constrained parents with a fee increase based on the ideological belief that the 80% model would materially compromise the quality of ECE. As the parent of a preschool child, I strongly disagree with this view. What is also disappointing is that some ECE centres unilaterally increased fees without asking parents if they would be happy with the staffing model the Government is funding. My child’s ECE facility wrote to parents outlining the four options the centre was considering. The options did not include the 80% model which avoids the need for fee increases. It did not ask parents whether they would be satisfied with a staffing complement that would avoid the need to increase fees.

In affirming Labour’s commitment to restoring the goal of funding 100% registered teachers, Dr Clark makes no attempt to explain how this (and many other hollow Labour promises) will be funded or how much debt a Labour Government would be prepared to burden those same children with repaying in the future.

My Government’s response is sensible in the constrained economic circumstances without compromising the quality of ECE in New Zealand. I believe this as much as a parent as I do as a politician.
 

 

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Researchers Find Early Childhood Education Program Yields High Economic Returns

 

in  Parenting Articles |  February 7th, 2011 at 8:02 am

 

Researchers Find Early Childhood Education Program Yields High Economic Returns

Main Category: Pediatrics / Children's Health
Also Included In: Public Health;  Depression
Article Date: 07 Feb 2011 - 1:00 PST

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For every $1 invested in a Chicago early childhood education program, nearly $11 is projected to return to society over the children's lifetimes - equivalent to an 18 percent annual return on program investment, according to a study led by University of Minnesota professor of child development Arthur Reynolds in the College of Education and Human Development. 

For the analysis, Reynolds and other researchers evaluated the effectiveness of the Chicago Public Schools' federally funded Child Parent Centers (CPCs) established in 1967. Their work represents the first long-term economic analysis of an existing, large-scale early education program. Researchers surveyed study participants and their parents, and analyzed education, employment, public aid, criminal justice, substance use and child welfare records for the participants through to age 26. 

"Our findings provide strong evidence that sustained high-quality early childhood programs can contribute to well-being for individuals and society," said Reynolds, director of the Chicago Longitudinal Study and co-director of the Human Capital Research Collaborative at the University of Minnesota. "The large-scale CPC program has one of the highest economic returns of any social program for young people. As public institutions are being pressed to cut costs, our findings suggest that increasing access to high-quality programs starting in preschool and continuing into the early grades is an efficient use of public resources." 

The CPC program in the project provided services for low-income families beginning at age three in 20 school sites. Kindergarten and school-age services are provided up to age nine (third grade). Funded by Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, CPC is the second oldest (after Head Start) federally funded preschool program. The analysis appears in the January/February issue of Child Development, the journal of the Society for Research in Child Development. Co-authoring researchers included Judy Temple, Barry White and Suh-Ruu Ou at the University of Minnesota and Dylan Robertson from the Chicago Public Schools. 

Reynolds and his colleagues did the cost-benefit analysis of the CPC using information collected on about 900 children enrolled in the 20 centers starting when they were three and first enrolled in a preschool program. The study continued until the children were nine and taking part in a school-age program that featured smaller classes, teacher aides, and instructional and family support. Follow-up interviews were done in early adulthood and information was collected from many sources until age 26. These children were compared to a group of about 500 comparable children who didn't take part in the CPC but participated in the usual educational interventions for disadvantaged youths in Chicago schools. 

The CPC resulted in significantly higher rates of attendance at 4-year colleges and employment in higher-skilled jobs and significantly lower rates of felony arrests and symptoms of depression in young adulthood. 

The program's economic benefits in 2007 dollars exceeded costs, including increased earnings and tax revenues, averted costs related to crime and savings for child welfare, special education and grade retention. The preschool part showed the strongest economic benefits providing a total return to society of $10.83 per dollar invested - equivalent to an 18 percent annual return on program investment. Gains varied by child, program and family group. 

When the researchers included the benefits from reductions in smoking, total returns rose to more than $12 per dollar invested. The school-age program yielded a return of about $4 per dollar invested (annual rate of return of 10 percent) and the combined preschool and school-age program (preschool to third grade) yielded returns of $8.24 per dollar invested (annual rate of return of 18 percent), based on average net benefits per child of $38,000 above and beyond less extensive intervention. 

Children at higher levels of risk experienced the highest economic benefits, including males ($17.88 per dollar invested; a 22% annual return), children who had taken part in preschool for a year ($13.58 per dollar invested; a 21% annual return) and children from higher-risk families, including those whose parents had not graduated from high school ($15.88 per dollar invested; a 20% annual return). 

The researchers identified five key principles of the CPC that they say led to its effectiveness, including providing services that are of sufficient length or duration, are high in intensity and enrichment, feature small class sizes and teacher-student ratios, are comprehensive in scope and are implemented by well-trained and well-compensated staff. A further unique feature of the research is that the origin of the economic returns can be empirically traced through a chain of early educational advantages to cumulate in long-term effects. 

The findings from this analysis can be useful to policymakers and school superintendents across the nation as they make funding decisions. A lot of states are thinking of scaling back on early childhood investments, but this analysis suggests the opposite, Reynolds said. 

"Access to effective programs like CPC should be increased," Reynolds said. "In scarce times, policymakers should divest in programs that aren't working and reserve the scarce resources for the most effective." 

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which is part of the National Institute of Health, funded this study. 

Source: 
Patty Mattern
University of Minnesota 

 
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