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Posts tagged ‘early childhood education’

Higher Wages for Child Care Providers Would Mean Better Quality Early Education for Kids

Merrill Gay, executive director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, is surrounded by representatives of organizations cosponsoring the press conference. Including CEA's Vinnie Loffredeo

Merrill Gay, executive director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, with representatives of organizations cosponsoring the press conference including CEA  Director of Government and Political Relations Vinnie Loffredo (second from left) and State Representative Michelle Cook (third from right).

Public school educators see firsthand the positive results of high-quality early childhood education. The problem is, all early childhood education isn’t top-quality. This morning at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, early childhood advocates joined together at a press conference to call for improving the quality of education for the youngest in our state by raising the wages and standards for early childhood providers.

By July 1, 2015, 50 percent of early childhood education providers in Connecticut are required to have bachelor’s degrees, and by 2020, 100 percent must hold them. The workforce is on track to meet those numbers, but those who work in the field report that once providers have earned their degrees, they leave for positions where they can be better compensated.

“We’re headed toward a crisis in early education if we don’t figure this out,” said Karen Rainville, executive director of the Connecticut Association for the Education of Young Children. Rainville’s association was one of eighteen organizations, along with CEA, who cosponsored the press conference. Read more

Obama Calls on Nation to “Protect Our Most Precious Resource”

Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig who hid her students in a bathroom during the shooting (at right) sits next to Dr. Jill Biden during the State of the Union address last night.

Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig (at right), who hid her students in a bathroom during the shooting at her school, sits next to Dr. Jill Biden during the State of the Union address last night.

President Obama addressed a range of issues in his State of the Union speech last night, from the economy and jobs to Medicare to tax reform to immigration to education, but it was the president’s remarks on Newtown that elicited the most emotional response from his audience.

The president said,

It has been two months since Newtown.  I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence.  But this time is different.  Overwhelming majorities of Americans – Americans who believe in the 2nd Amendment – have come together around commonsense reform – like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun.  Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals.  Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned.

More than 25 victims of gun violence and their families watched the speech from the House gallery. Most were the guests of House and Senate members.

Among the guests of the Connecticut Congressional delegation were Carlos Soto, the teenage brother of Victoria Soto, the Slain Sandy Hook first grade teacher; injured Sandy Hook teacher Natalie Hammond; Newtown First Selectwoman Pat Llodra; and Newtown first responders Jason Frank and Dan McAnaspie. Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig who hid her students in a bathroom and kept them quiet during the shooting, sat in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box.

Obama said, “Tonight matters little if we don’t come together to protect our most precious resource – our children.”

Focus on early-childhood and higher education

The president’s comments on education concentrated on pre-K and higher education. Obama called for colleges to keep tuition rates down and said his office will today release a new scorecard to help students and families make informed decisions about universities.

On early-childhood education Obama proposed that the federal government work with states to make high-quality preschool available to all children.

Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.  In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own.  So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.  Let’s give our kids that chance.

Making education and students a priority is an economic imperative. How would universal high-quality early education help students in your classroom?

Obama Likely to Address Early Education Tonight

President Obama Photo by Robert Couse-Baker.

President Obama may introduce a new early-childhood education proposal in his State of Union speech tonight. Photo by Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr.

President Obama will give his State of the Union address at 9:00 tonight, and Education Week and The Huffington Post are reporting he is likely to announce an investment in early-childhood education. Education Week reporter Alyson Klein writes, “Advocates are expecting some sort of policy proposal, even though the president isn’t likely to have a lot of new money for a big, new initiative.”

Quality early education is one of the priorities that NEA President Dennis Van Roekel has asked President Obama to address. In a letter he sent President Obama Friday, Van Roekel outlined policy priorities he hopes the president will focus on in his State of the Union speech. These priority areas also include affordable higher education, measures to prevent gun violence and ensure school and campus safety, and continued economic recovery, bolstered by increased investments in education and other programs that spur economic growth.

Van Roekel wrote,

NEA members, who live and work in almost every community in this great nation, share the optimism, yet lingering concern, of most Americans. Our members still see the impact of the troubled economy as their students continue to come to school hungry, sick or in need of counseling and other services. We try every day to mitigate the isolation and depression that so many students feel due to bullying, cultural and language differences within their schools, difficult family environments, and more. We see parents every day who worry about whether their jobs are secure and how they will afford to send their children—our students—to college.

Will you be watching the State of the Union tonight? What do you think President Obama should address?

Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge

$50 million in federal funding is available to improve early childhood education.

CEA Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine (right) told other members of Connecticut’s Early Childhood Education Cabinet that educators recognize the critical importance of quality pre-K. At left is State Senator Andrea Stillman, co-chair of the legislature's Education Committee.

“I know we can do this.” That’s the message from Governor Dannel P. Malloy to members of Connecticut’s Early Childhood Education Cabinet working on a $50 million grant from the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services to improve early childhood education. The grant is part of the Early Learning Challenge, a piece of the Race to the Top education-reform competition launched in 2009.

In addressing the panel at the Legislative Office Building today, the governor said it’s important to seek federal assistance to help close the state’s achievement gap and to make sure no child is denied an opportunity to age appropriate education because of their parents’ financial situation. And he said, “We know what must be done.”

“Urban teachers, rural teachers, suburban teachers—they all know what it’s going to take to improve the quality of the product as it comes to our formalized kindergarten through grade 12 program,” said Malloy. “Let’s go after this grant, and design programs to make sure we get it right in Connecticut, and we get it right sooner than later.”

CEA Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine listened to Governor Malloy address the Early Childhood Education Cabinet.

The Governor said, “Anytime we deny some group of children the ability to meet their maximum—to be as good a student, as good a citizen, as good a worker as they possibly can be, in this very competitive economic environment—we are failing that child.”

CEA Executive director Mary Loftus Levine, a member of the cabinet, says educators recognize the critical importance of quality pre-K to the development of Connecticut’s youngest children.

“We need to focus on literacy skills, high-quality instruction and programs, and having highly qualified and certified teachers for our youngest children. Time is not a renewable resource for these children, so the time to act is now,” said Levine.

To win the grants, states are required to submit applications showing evidence of their commitment to a series of reforms, including the coordination and improvement of multiple early childhood programs designed for children from birth through age five.

Rep. Andy Fleischman, co-chair of the legislature’s Education Committee, said legislation (SB 1103) enacted last spring to create a coordinated system of early childhood care laid the foundation that the group is aiming to build upon.

The cabinet’s next meeting is Sept. 22. Applications are due October 19, and winners will be announced before December 31.

For more information visit

Another Look at the Impact of Kindergarden

As the snail-paced recovery moves forward and the availability of stimulus money fades, state and local school budgets feel the tightening of the vise. Given that we have never successfully resolved the school finance question in the United States, the script for bad times is almost predictable. And so one of the inexorable components of the script is the impact of class size on effective education. One of education research’s most infamous roller coaster rides begins anew each time money becomes short.

You can also expect when these class size debates emerge that soon thereafter we will revisit the most well-known and probably most respected of the class size studies. The so-called STAR Project – a study of 7000 young students done in Tennessee in the 80’s:

The Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) was a four-year longitudinal class-size study funded by the Tennessee General Assembly and conducted by the State Department of Education. Over 7,000 students in 79 schools were randomly assigned into one of three interventions: small class (13 to 17 students per teacher), regular class (22 to 25 students per teacher), and regular-with-aide class (22 to 25 students with a full-time teacher’s aide).  Classroom teachers were also randomly assigned to the classes they would teach. The interventions were initiated as the students entered school in kindergarten and continued through third grade.

The analysis of academic achievement consistently and significantly (p<.01) demonstrated the advantage of small classes over regular size classes and regular sized classes with a teaching assistant. As Jeremy Finn and C.M. Achilles stated in the American Educational Research Journal (Fall 1990), “This research leaves no doubt that small classes have an advantage over larger classes in reading and math in early primary grades.” Tennessee’s Project STAR was featured in the American School Boards Journal in May, 1992 and in many different periodicals since.


Although the findings of the original study through 4th grade have stood the test of time, there have been studies that show that the gains fade as students get older. Now there is a new twist. A group of economists in a recent study funded by the National Science Foundation revisited the STAR longitudinal data to see what impact a quality kindergarden experience has on later life.

Here’s what they found:

Harvard University economist John Friedman says he and a group of colleagues found that students who progress during their kindergarten year from attaining an average score on the Stanford Achievement Test to attaining a score in the 60th percentile can expect to make about $1,000 more a year at age 27 than students whose scores remain average.

Taking into account all variation across kindergarten classes, including class size, individuals who learn more–as measured by an above-average score on the Stanford Achievement Test–and are in smaller classes earn about $2,000 more per year at age 27.

The researchers think that these positive impacts in later life may be attributable to “non-cognitive impacts” – skills such as initiative, self-control. Even though there is some fade-out of gains in math and reading, the STAR study examined non-cognitive skills and found no similar fade-out.

According to lead researcher, Raj Chetty, “based on the predictive value of future educational accomplishment, earnings, and general happiness, a good kindergarten teacher’s contribution to society should be valued at about $320,000 a year.” (see Esquire profile)

For a longer discussion on the study check these links:

John Friedman discusses study on NSF site

Focusing on Kindergarden WBUR- Boston