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Examining the push to get kids starting school strong.
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.
June 10, 2011
This week's teaching & learning tidbits
What to do after high school? - Preschool's benefits linger into adulthood, study finds - Colo. teacher tenure changes on table - Dougco schools revamp teacher pay - Teachers infuse arts into classroom.
May 17, 2011
Ask an Expert: Could my son be gifted?
A mom worries that her son is getting bored in preschool because he may be gifted. An expert gives her tips on what to do as he prepares for kindergarten.
February 11, 2011
This week's teaching & learning tidbits
School bus advertising; LA Times teacher rankings questioned; More male elementary teachers in Colo.; no further cuts to K-12 funding in Colo.; Teacher tenure bill fails in Wyo.; Boulder Valley makes small gains in minority teachers; Rhee scrutinized.
January 28, 2011
Week of 1/24/11: Teaching & learning tidbits
Special ed resource fair Saturday; Big changes for Falcon district; Good news in science ed; Obama calls out Denver school; Fort Collins school saved by a vote; Fate of cursive in schools; Aurora hunts truants; State's smallest district ponders future.
December 21, 2010
New Montbello early childhood center to serve vital need
Learn more about the state-of-the-art early childhood center coming to Far Northeast Denver, when the $5.5 million facility will open and what needs DPS officials believes it will serve.
November 4, 2010
Self-regulation key to classroom success
Constant praise isn’t going to get Johnny very far when he starts school. And even if he has a high IQ or shows outstanding ability in math, new research says that the best indicator of future academic success is the ability of a child to self-regulate.
October 1, 2010
Ask an Expert: At what age should my son attend preschool?
EdNews Parent experts Ann Morrison, Karla Scornavacco and Robert "Kim" Herrell take on an important question from Amy of Boulder about when her 2-year-old son should start preschool to make sure he's prepared for kindergarten.
December 10, 2009
LES schools land exemption from city-wide kindergarten rules
Lower East Side parents who want to ensure their pre-k students stay in the same school for kindergarten will now be able to do so, though a citywide policy bans schools from giving admissions preference to their own pre-k students. Parents in Manhattan's District 1 have been lobbying for the exemption for more than a year. The district's parent council, elected officials and the Department of Education have hammered out a nearly-final deal, presented to parents at a public meeting last night. Last school year the DOE began barring schools from giving admissions preference to students already enrolled in their own pre-k programs. Lisa Donlan, the president of the parent's council, said that the policy ran counter to the district's historical commitment to having full-day pre-k programs that are considered fully integrated into the school's culture, whereas many districts have half-day pre-k programs that are almost considered separate from the school itself.
December 17, 2008
Statewide ed programs also being cut, but the news isn't all bad
Gov. Paterson's cost-cutting proposal yesterday didn't just ask local school districts to reduce their budgets. It also took a knife to education programs that are funded by the state. The Buffalo News today reported on some of those statewide cuts: • Requiring districts to pay 15 percent of the cost of preschool special-education services. Those costs are now covered by the state and counties. • Delaying for at least two years planned increases in prekindergarten funding. • Eliminating $40 million for teacher development centers. • Scrapping a $10 million Teacher Mentor Intern Program, which allows veteran teachers to assist less-experienced colleagues. • Eliminating a $10 million fund that provided math and science programs of which students can avail themselves at colleges and universities. An important note about that second bullet point: Even though Gov. Paterson isn't increasing state pre-K funding, New York City could still see an increase in the number of children enrolled in universal pre-K programs.
December 17, 2008
Pre-K expert on New York program: It's a model of how not-to
Sara Mead, who directs a center on early childhood policy at the New America Foundation, just e-mailed me a response to my post…
December 17, 2008
Looking back on the start of Head Start
Today's New York Times reported that Obama could oversee "the largest new federal initiative for young children since Head Start began in 1965" if he makes good on his pledge of $10 billion for early childhood education, leaving proponents of such programs "atremble" in anticipation of his administration's support. More than 20,000 youngsters participated in the first Head Start programs in New York City in the summer of 1965, the Times reported that year. The full article is after the jump.
December 17, 2008
How far from complete are the city's efforts to expand pre-K?
Talking about Barack Obama's hopes for expanding early childhood education (school for 3- and 4-year-olds) Sam Dillon reports in the Times this morning that, despite efforts to make pre-kindergarten available, New York State's efforts are "far from complete." How far? Pretty far. There are two areas to pay attention to: access (how many 4-year-olds are actually enrolled in programs) and quality (are the programs doing real teaching or simply baby-sitting?). Let's start with access. New York City advocates told me last year that they estimate demand for pre-kindergarten in the city at about 75,000 4-year-olds. Yet the number of 4-year-olds who are taking part so far this year is 54,000. That represents a steady increase from years past, the Department of Education's director of early childhood education, Recy B. Dunn, just told me in a telephone interview. But it's still far away from universal — and it's also below the number of seats the state agreed to pay for this year, 60,000, a package that would cost just over $230 million, Dunn said. The picture statewide is arguably bleaker. Winnie Hu of the Times reported last year that only 38% of 4-year-olds in the state participated in programs.
July 31, 2008
Here's the DOE's proposed Contracts for Excellence plan…
Coming soon… notes from Wednesday’s public hearing in Manhattan. New York City’s Proposed Citywide Contracts for Excellence plan provides: 63% or $242 million in discretionary…
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