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Examining the push to get kids starting school strong.
March 29, 2014
Pre-K funds, charter school protections, and Common Core changes in state budget deal
New York State reached agreement for a new spending plan, allocating pre-K funds for New York City, effectively reversing Success Academy co-location reversals, and laying out a process for new city charter schools to receive facilities support.
March 27, 2014
Pence signs bill establishing preschool pilot program
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence today signed into law a bill creating a preschool pilot program that was one of the centerpieces of his legislative agenda.
Adding it all up
March 24, 2014
More children now in poverty than during the recession, according to 2014 Kids Count
More children are living in poverty than during the 2008 recession and that number is growing. That's the latest from the 2014 KIDS COUNT report from Colorado Children's Campaign, the annual report on the state of child health, wellness and education.
March 21, 2014
Ballard aims to commit matching dollars for preschool
Mayor Greg Ballard will seek to offer about $100,000 for matching grants to boost Indianapolis preschools. In 2013, lawmakers approved a $2 million matching grant…
March 20, 2014
What my family got out of daycare that public pre-K could provide
A mother says she hopes the city's expansion of pre-kindergarten will provide the same kind of insight into child development, strategies to try at home, and dynamic social atmosphere that her children's daycare offered.
March 19, 2014
Preschool: Support reached the tipping point
Why was this time different for preschool at the statehouse? Two big factors: strong and growing support for early childhood education from business leaders and Pence’s evolving embrace of the idea of state aid for poor preschoolers over the past year.
Save the date
March 17, 2014
A tale of two districts and their kindergarten cut-off dates
Kindergarten entrance dates are a fraught subject for parents, and recent changes to the dates in two Colorado districts illustrate the anxiety and questions such changes provoke.
March 17, 2014
What de Blasio says when he talks to parents about pre-K
Mayor Bill de Blasio joined a phone drive at the Brooklyn Public Library on Sunday to recruit families to sign their children up for new…
March 13, 2014
Indiana moving to offer direct aid for preschools for the first time
A last minute compromise today revived a preschool pilot, which then passed the legislature, giving Gov. Mike Pence a chance to sign into law a…
March 13, 2014
Ailing preschool pilot program finds new life (updated)
New life was breathed into Gov. Mike Pence’s ailing preschool pilot program proposal under a deal forged by a committee of Democrats and Republicans from both legislative chambers. The pilot, stripped out of House Bill 1004 by Senate Republicans concerned about the program’s potential long term costs, was put back in and could even serve more kids than originally estimated.
stars in the making
March 10, 2014
New rating system on the way for preschools and child care
This summer the state is expected to launch a new mandatory five-level rating system for early childhood care providers, including preschools, child care centers and family child care homes. While there are many details left to work out, experts say the effort is a step in the right direction for improving the quality of care for Colorado's youngest children.
February 26, 2014
Pence renews push for preschool program
Gov Mike Pence called on lawmakers to reinsert a preschool pilot program into a bill that now would only study preschool. Speaking in a preschool classroom at Shepherd Community Center preschool on the East side of Indianapolis, Pence it was vital to get started with the pilot program, which was stripped out of House bill 1004 by Republicans in the Senate Education Committee last week.
February 25, 2014
Fariña: Principals have already offered 800 classrooms for pre-K
Chancellor Carmen Fariña asked, and principals delivered. Specifically, they submitted about 800 of their rooms for consideration as new pre-kindergarten classrooms—space the city needs in…
February 19, 2014
Senate panel drops Pence-backed preschool program
One of Gov. Mike Pence’s top legislative priorities, a preschool pilot program, appears to have been stymied for 2014. The program that would have been created by House Bill 1004, was set aside today by the Senate Education Committee, which preferred to hand the idea off to a legislative summer committee for more study. The rewritten bill, with the pilot program removed and language creating the study committee inserted, passed the committee 9-0.
February 12, 2014
In rare legislative appearance, Pence touts preschool
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence testified on behalf of a bill for the first time as governor today, making a personal plea for support for his proposed preschool pilot program. His goal: Get reluctant fellow Republicans on the Senate Education Committee to vote yes on House Bill 1004 to create the program. But the bill could still be in trouble. After Pence's remarks, Republican committee members remained skeptical, asking a long list of questions about the cost, practicality and need for state-paid preschool.
February 11, 2014
Six weeks into de Blasio's term, unanswered school questions abound
Bill de Blasio filled his campaign with critiques of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s handling of the school system, including his administration’s emphasis on standardized test scores, its shuttering of low-performing schools, and its enthusiastic backing of charter schools. But since taking office, he and his schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, have offered few clues about exactly how they will address some of the biggest issues facing students and educators.
February 10, 2014
The basics of early childhood education in Indiana: A new era begins
Indiana has long been behind most of the rest of the country when it comes to state support for early education. But there are some signs the state could be changing its attitude toward early childhood education. An important change in the political landscape was the strong support of Republican Gov. Mike Pence in late 2013 for a new preschool pilot program.
February 6, 2014
Pence promises big push for preschool bill
Recapping the just-completed first half of the legislative session with reporters, Gov. Mike Pence promised to push hard for a preschool pilot program. He also praised a bill passed this week by the Senate that would void national Common Core standards Indiana adopted in 2010.
the path to pre-k
January 28, 2014
King says statewide pre-K would cost far more than Cuomo budgeted
Expanding pre-kindergarten access across New York State would cost more in a single year than Gov. Andrew Cuomo has budgeted for five years, state schools chief John King said today. The estimate provides yet more fodder for the ongoing debate over how to fund universal pre-K.
January 28, 2014
Colorado’s achievement gap in reading one of the largest in the nation
The gap in reading ability between Colorado’s low-income and affluent students is the seventh largest in the nation and growing, according to a report released…
January 27, 2014
During hearing, de Blasio's pre-K gatekeepers scrutinize his plan
Lawmakers wanted to know why Mayor Bill de Blasio needed new taxes to pay for something that could be covered by the state, pointing to an alternative funding proposal that Gov. Andrew Cuomo floated last week. And several asked why charter schools have been absent from the proposal's details, with a Bronx senator threatening to withhold his support over the issue.
January 27, 2014
De Blasio unveils implementation plan for lofty pre-K proposal
Mayor de Blasio’s signature campaign pledge, to expand full-day prekindergarten access to all New Yorkers, got new details today with the release…
January 16, 2014
Preschool bill easily passes House
The Indiana House today strongly supported a bill that would represent the state’s first foray into direct aid for preschool, passing it 87-9. House Bill…
Middle School Matters
January 9, 2014
De Blasio drops by Bronx dance class to highlight after-school plan
Much of de Blasio’s energy since taking office has gone into the politics of getting expanded prekindergarten funded. But his proposed tax hike on top earners — which requires state approval — would also finance more after-school programs for middle school students. Today, de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña visited M.S. 331 to see a model program in action.
December 20, 2013
Pre-K campaign kickoff continues with a new video
The official campaign for universal pre-kindergarten that Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio launched on Thursday got its first lobbying video today, seen above. The video highlights support…
December 19, 2013
Bill de Blasio lobbies Albany for pre-K plan
Bill de Blasio is ratcheting up his lobbying campaign to get the support he needs in Albany to fund his ambitious pre-kindergarten expansion plan. The…
December 11, 2013
Kenley: Costs may scuttle most of Pence's 2014 education agenda
Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Luke Kenley Luke Kenley, the powerful chairman of the Indiana Senate's appropriations committee, said Wednesday he doubts potentially costly proposals from Gov. Mike Pence to offer preschool tuition vouchers to low income families, boost charter schools or aid teacher innovation can be enacted before 2015. "I don't see us doing anything in 2014 on these issues," Kenley, R-Indianapolis, said in an interview. "If you want to have a fair sense of fiscal discipline and evaluate any program, it has to be done in the context of the rest of the budget."
December 9, 2013
'Sometimes you're wrong:' Weingarten on de Blasio critique
UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, just days before the Nov. 5 mayoral election. Earlier today, we pointed out that some Democrats who supported one of Bill de Blasio's rivals during the mayoral primary were coming around to a campaign pledge they once panned. Another of those critics of Blasio's expanded pre-kindergarten access plan—which calls for an income tax hike on wealthy New Yorkers—was American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who endorsed Bill Thompson in the primary. In August, Weingarten held a conference call with reporters specifically to criticize the plan. “We need a mayor in the city of New York who will take this idea and actually get it done and not base it on a tax that may never materialize,” Weingarten said then, calling Thompson “a doer” and describing de Blasio as more of an idealist. But when asked today if she remained pessimistic about the plan, which requires state approval, Weingarten said she had been mistaken. “Sometimes you’re wrong, as I was during the campaign, when I suggested that Bill de Blasio couldn’t gain support in Albany for his early childhood education initiatives," Weingarten said in a statement.
November 25, 2013
De Blasio speech repeats pre-K plan but offers few new details
Bill de Blasio reiterated his plan to fund new preschool and after-school programs with a tax hike on high-income earners. (Photo courtesy of Eileen Barroso, Columbia University) In his first major post-election speech, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio argued Monday that his wide electoral victory amounts to a mandate to curb inequality by expanding the city’s pre-Kindergarten and after-school programs through a tax hike on the wealthy. But beyond announcing the formation of an “early-education working group” to hash out the details of the expansion, which he said he wants to begin rolling out next school year, de Blasio offered few new details about his central campaign pledge. Instead, he repeated his plan and said that it is gaining support from lawmakers in Albany, who must approve it – even as former mayor David Dinkins suggested to de Blasio, his one-time aide, that he reconsider the income-tax hike. “I have offered a game-changing investment in early-childhood education and after-school,” de Blasio said in his keynote speech at a summit on children hosted by the Earth Institute at Columbia University. “Nothing less will do.”
November 19, 2013
At legislative kickoff, lawmakers ponder preschool, state board and Common Core
On Organization Day, Indiana legislative leaders annually gather for a mostly ceremonial start to the upcoming legislative session. Will 2014 be another big year for new education laws? That's hard to say. As lawmakers began to pitch ideas today for the 2014 legislative session, opinions diverged on how much could be accomplished on hot education issues like the Common Core, preschool funding and discord on the Indiana State Board of Education. Senate Education Committee chairman Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, doesn't think education will be a big focus this time. "I don't have any priorities for education for session 2014," he said. "I think we passed some pretty significant bills the past three years and I think it's time to take a rest." But across the statehouse, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said improving early childhood education and addressing the “skills gap" that he said leaves high school graduates ill-prepared for work and college, were two of his four top priorities for 2014. He also hinted the legislature could wade into a dispute among state Superintendent Glenda Ritz, Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana State Board of Education over who directs education policymaking. "Our state's constitution clearly gives that task to the elected legislative bodies in this chamber and the senate," Bosma said. The legislature officially began the new session Tuesday with its annual "organization day," a mostly ceremonial event. Lawmakers begin their work in earnest when they next meet in early January.
November 4, 2013
At lab school, Butler and IPS students both learn lessons
Butler junior Briana Ulba works with students at the Lab School as part of a college class that meets at IPS School 60. Aspiring teacher Bridget Spitale was watching a lesson about adjectives when she realized taking college classes in an elementary school worked. She was assisting in teacher Mary Ellen Estridge's classroom while she was talking with her kindergarten and first grade students about adjectives. Estridge moved to telling a story and the way the lesson unfolded was a breakthrough for Spitale's understanding of effective teaching. "It was an eye-opening moment," said Spitale, a Butler junior from Hammond. The lab school, also known as Indianapolis Public School 60, is a collaboration between the university and the school district and follows a unique curriculum inspired by an Italian educational strategy known as Reggio Emilia. Children are placed among a variety of physical materials that are used to help them experience and understand the concepts they learn.
October 21, 2013
New reading law takes off
The rubber hits the road this year for the READ Act, a state law intended to ensure students are reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Schools are currently in the midst of implementing the law's provisions for the first round of K-3 students.
August 30, 2013
De Blasio and Quinn line up lawmakers in pre-K squabble
The mayoral campaigns of Bill de Blasio and Christine Quinn have each sent out press releases today touting legislative support for their positions on de…
August 26, 2013
As candidates squabble over universal pre-K funds, a fact check
Chancellor Dennis Walcott read to a group of 4-year-olds at the Bank Street Head Start center in November 2011. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten fueled mayoral candidate Bill Thompson's attacks on Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's plan to fund universal pre-kindergarten, calling Thompson a "doer" and de Blasio an idealist. "We need a mayor in the city of New York who will take this idea and actually get it done and not base it on a tax that may never materialize," Weingarten said during a call with reporters that the Thompson campaign arranged. Since last week, Thompson and his allies have been criticizing de Blasio's plan, which would raise taxes on New Yorkers earning over $500,000 a year to fund universal pre-K. They say de Blasio's plan relies too much on approval from Albany and does not consider that the state doesn't even use all of the state pre-K funding that it gets. Their first point is a fair one. De Blasio's plan would require legislative approval, a step he says would come readily but which could be a heavy lift. The New York Times cited this shortcoming to explain why it did not endorse de Blasio. But on the second point, about the unused state funding, Thompson's campaign's math does not add up. Calculating the true cost of expanding pre-K to all city 4-year-olds is a challenging task, pre-K advocates say, but no matter how the numbers are crunched, they suggest that the city would need more funding.
August 19, 2013
State senator finds holes in de Blasio's plan for universal pre-K
From the office of Public Advocate Bill de Blasio State Sen. Diane Savino accused mayoral candidate and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio today of not understanding the legal issues behind providing universal pre-kindergarten to New York City students. De Blasio has proposed taxing households that make more than $500,000 to fund full-day pre-K for all New York City children. The senator, who spoke on a conference call set up by Bill Thompson's campaign team, said creating universal pre-K in the city is not a matter of getting more money, but rather changing laws in Albany. "Either Bill [de Blasio] doesn't know how we fund universal pre-K or he’s just pandering. Because the fact is we don’t need to spend more money on this program," she said.
August 14, 2013
About that “major education announcement” de Blasio promised
DE BLASIO TO RENEW CALL FOR TAX ON WEALTHY TO FUND UNIVERSAL PRE-K, CONTRAST WITH SPEAKER QUINN’S PLAN TO SADDLE MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES WITH…
February 6, 2013
With mixed messages, charter school backers lobby lawmakers
Harriet Tubman Charter School students were among several groups to visit Bronx Assemblyman Erik Stevenson's office on Tuesday. When elected officials visit schools in their district, they generally follow a scripted routine. They cut ribbons, make speeches, and smile for pictures. When the roles are reversed — as they were on Tuesday, when hundreds of charter school parents, students, and teachers convened in Albany to lobby lawmakers — the conversations aren't always so predictable. Some of the charter school advocates stuck to talking points determined in advance by the lobby day's organizers. The New York City Charter Center and the New York Charter School Association want the legislature to give charter schools the right to operate pre-kindergarten programs, something state law currently precludes. The agenda is a response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to give $25 million to district schools that offer more full-day pre-K seats. But in interviews and individual meetings with lawmakers, students and parents spoke about education issues that affected them personally. Almost all said they love the schools they attend, but they expressed concerns about their schools' safety, space, and resources. One parent from an upstate charter school said her child's special needs were not being adequately addressed.
February 5, 2013
Eyeing Cuomo's grants, charter sector sees a pre-K opportunity
Charter schools want to piggyback on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to expand pre-kindergarten across the state. But in order to benefit from Cuomo's $25 million in pre-K grants, the schools first must win the right to offer pre-K classes. Pushing for that right is at the top of charter school supporters' agenda today as they convene in Albany as part of the charter sector's annual advocacy day. The parents will meet in the Albany Convention Center with more than a dozen legislators, then spend the rest of the day visiting their district representatives. They're not the only ones lobbying lawmakers over pre-K this week. On Monday, police chiefs, principals, and education groups from around the state declared their support for Cuomo's pre-K grants, which represent a fraction of the $385 million that the state spends annually on pre-kindergarten. The charter sector's lobbying efforts are not so straightforward, because the state's 1998 law authorizing the schools grants them the right to serve students in kindergarten to 12th grade only. Legislators would have to change to the law — last revised in 2010 amid heavy controversy — to allow pre-kindergarten in charter schools. "It's our job to talk to lawmakers and say to them, 'Hey, does it really makes sense to a have a program where some really good schools don't have the ability to do full-day pre-K?'" said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter Center.
October 4, 2012
Public advocate tells city's elite he'd raise taxes to pay for pre-K
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio spoke at a 2010 rally outside Department of Education headquarters. Comptroller John Liu wasn't the only possible mayoral contender to put forth a major education policy proposal today. In a speech to some of New York's wealthiest individuals, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio called for new taxes on top earners to fund an expansion of pre-kindergarten programs. New Yorkers who earn more than $500,000 a year would see their tax rate rise from 3.86 percent to 4.3 percent under the plan, which de Blasio outlined in a breakfast meeting held by the Association for a Better New York, a consortium of business and civic leaders. New Yorkers earning $1 million would see their tax bill rise by nearly $40,000 under the proposal. The rate hike would generate $532 million a year, de Blasio said, allowing the city to create or expand 50,000 pre-kindergarten slots and extend the school day for 120,000 middle school students. "This is not just a discussion of fairness or how we address inequality," de Blasio said, according to his prepared remarks. "This is a very economic discussion, because we’ve seen time and time again that this is where our education dollars have the biggest impact." Advocates for early childhood education were quick to support de Blasio's proposal. "We applaud Public Advocate de Blasio for today putting forward a bold, expansive, fully funded plan to ensure quality pre-K and after-school for many of New York's children," said Stephanie Gendell of the Campaign for Children, a group that emerged to fight child care cuts this spring. But Mayor Bloomberg, the city's second-wealthiest resident, said he thought placing an additional burden on the city's wealthiest taxpayers would backfire.
September 24, 2012
City to expand pre-K offerings with new seats and a new school
City officials and philanthropists announced two new early childhood initiatives today. From left: Administration for Children's Services Commissioner Ronald Richter, Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Dennis Walcott, and Susie Buffett, of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund. Instead of waiting until children are turning five years old to start educating them, the Department of Education is going to start targeting some children at five weeks. Citing research that shows a correlation between long-term achievement and enrollment in high-quality early childhood programs, Mayor Bloomberg announced this morning that the city will open a school next year that enrolls children from infancy through pre-kindergarten — and their parents. Bloomberg also announced a $20 million initiative to turn 4,000 oft-unused half-day pre-kindergarten seats into full-day slots that many parents find more attractive. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott made the announcements today in conjunction with "Education Nation," NBC's annual extravaganza of education policy programming hosted in Midtown Manhattan. This year's summit is focusing on innovations that have been proven to work. One of those is early childhood education, which primes children for academic success in elementary school and beyond. Children's minds are already 85 percent developed by the time they are old enough for kindergarten, a 2005 study found, and early education advocates say interventions in infancy can have a far greater impact on the achievement gap than at any other period in children's lives. In the proposed new school, which would open next September inside Brownsville's P.S. 41, low-income parents would be pushed to develop stronger social and emotional skills with their children while the children are infants and toddlers. Ultimately serving between 115 and 125 families a year, the school will be part of the Educare Schools network, which already operates 17 early childhood schools in 13 states.
February 24, 2012
This week's teaching & learning tidbits
Preschool assessments: A look across the states - Common Core won’t likely boost student achievement - Douglas County asks teachers to teach more - Dougco factions don different colors - Denver school officials say they're happy with new choice process - CSI comes to Loveland high school - Cherry Creek teachers, students work out lesson plan to improve Latinos' graduation rate - Focus on black students’ progress in DPS.
December 9, 2011
This week's teaching & learning tidbits
It starts by making education a national mission - Urban schools improve, but test score gaps remain - New calculation: Math in preschool - Does class size matter? - Task force to examine 4-day week impact - Charter school enrollment surges in Colorado and nationwide.
November 14, 2011
In pre-K, Common Core fingerprints found on snack and a story
Chancellor Dennis Walcott prepares to read to a group of 4-year-olds at the Bank Street Head Start center. Using skills developed at his first job, Chancellor Dennis Walcott dropped to the floor at Manhattan's Bank Street Head Start center today and read a version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to a circle of 4-year-olds. Just as he said he had as a pre-kindergarten teacher in the 1970s, Walcott changed his voice for the different characters and acted out parts of the story, keeping the children laughing and acting along. (Watch video of the reading.) The read-aloud came during a break in painting, mashing play dough, building with blocks, and assembling magnetic tiles — activities that look like fun and games but actually reflect the city's academic goals for pre-K students. Those goals are set out in the city's new curriculum standards, called the Common Core, which start in pre-K. Like all city students, children in the Department of Education's pre-K classes are expected to complete Common Core-aligned "tasks" this year like the ones the DOE has suggested for units about trucks, plants, and the five senses. Among the Common Core standards for pre-K: Students should engage in group reading activities such as the one Walcott led and practice addition and subtraction using everyday objects.
November 4, 2011
This week's teaching & learning tidbits
Big Brain Club says "hello" (VIDEO) - Study: Pre-K crucial to best third grade reading outcomes - Monarch High's Donley named Teacher of the Year - U.S. school kids showing slight improvement in math - Soaring Eagles and Harris Bilingual honored.
October 13, 2011
In audit, Liu and DOE spar over pre-K funds the city doesn't use
The city isn't sending as many 4-year-olds to pre-kindergarten as it could, according to an audit by Comptroller John Liu. Liu's latest Department of Education audit looks at the way the city uses state funding for "universal pre-kindergarten" programs. The funds can be used to pay for half-day pre-K classes at public schools or through city or community-based preschool programs. Even though many public schools maintain waiting lists for pre-kindergarten classes, especially where space is tight, many 4-year-olds are not enrolled in pre-K classes that could help prepare them for school. Every year, the audit calculates, the city returns an average of about $30 million in unused pre-K funding to the state. "DOE's failure to fully allocate all UPK funds means that children who could have received pre-kindergarten classes are not being served," concludes the audit, which radiates evidence of tension between Liu's office and the DOE. The department submitted its response to the audit "under protest" and calling the audit's focus "deliberately and stubbornly myopic, thereby rendering it of little, if any, worth." If Liu's office had looked at efforts to expand pre-K enrollment, the DOE argues, it would have found that the problem lies not with the department but in constricting state regulations. An enormous challenge, the DOE and Liu's office agree, is that the state will only pay for two and a half hours of pre-K per day for each child.
August 1, 2011
Free parenting workshops at Children's Hospital
Need some parenting help? We all do sometimes. Children's Hospital Colorado offers some great workshops and they're free. Check out the upcoming schedule, which deals with everything from potty training to social networking and teens.
July 18, 2011
Time to prep for a new school year
Only a few short weeks of summer left to enjoy. Is it too early to begin thinking about the beginning of a new school year? Your child might think so, but experts disagree. Now's a great time to begin prepping.
July 15, 2011
This week's teaching & learning tidbits
California to teach gay history in schools - Sen. Bennet discusses school reform - Jeffco employees say it's a good place to work - Boulder offers students more advanced courses - Denver Head Start funds lagging - School choice talk in Springs next week.
June 20, 2011
Ask an Expert: Curbing summer brain drain.
Worried about how much knowledge will drain from your child's brain this summer? Fret no more. This expert offers some excellent - and free - ways to keep your child engaged in learning every day.
June 16, 2011
Reading tips for the summer months
Learn about how to spark a love of reading in your child this summer. The key? Keep it real. Keep it fun, and yes, comic books are OK.
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