In recent weeks, there has been an increase in the talk about early childhood education. Research from the Federal Reserve andJames Heckman, Nobel Prize-winning University of Chicago Economics Professor, shows that investing in early childhood education is a good investment. Several public charter schools offer pre-k and are involved in early learning, including the outstanding Apple Tree Institute here in D.C. But even those schools that don’t offer these programs benefit when disadvantaged children participate in high-quality early childhood education. The earlier these children are exposed to classrooms and learning, the more likely they are to succeed. Below is a round-up on some recent early childhood news.
On July 31, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Center on American Progress hosted an event showcasing the importance of early childhood education. Participants heard from Delaware Governor Jack Markell about why the state invested extra resources in early learning; saw results of a recent poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research, a bipartisan research team, that shows strong support for early learning from all political groups – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; learned about state-level policy developments in early childhood education from state leaders; and listened to business leaders about the importance of investing in early childhood education.
The National Conference of State Legislatures recently released a report that shows funding for early childhood education increased slightly in 21 states.
The U.S. Department of Education announced that Libby Doggett, who most recently served as director of the Pew Home Visiting Campaign, will be named the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning, where she will head up the Office of Early Learning within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the Department of Education. The office jointly administers the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge program with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee visited the YMCA-YWCA preschool in Marshalltown, Iowa on August 6 where he stressed the importance of early childhood education. He is working to introduce a bill promoting early childhood education in the fall.
Laura Katzin is the director of special projects at National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.