February 2014 Archives

Interesting piece by Matt Yglesias on recent arguments that the growth of free stuff on the internet creates social benefits that fail to be captured by GDP. I'd just note that this problem is nothing new--GDP numbers have never captured the unpaid home and childcare work done by (mostly) women. E.g.: If a woman stays home to take care of her 2-year-old, she's not contributing anything to GDP. But if she pays someone else to watch her 2-year-old while she works, the money she pays that person is counted towards GDP. This has always struck me as stupid, and ...


Great new report from the Early Childhood Data Collaborative highlights the gaps and disconnections in states' early childhood data systems. Only one state--Pennsylvania--can link child-level data across all the state's early childhood programs and connect it to the state's data system. As a result, policymakers and other key stakeholders often lack the data they need to answer fundamental questions about how well a state's or community's early childhood programs are serving children or where the gaps and need are (and are not). As someone who works with both early childood and K-12 policy issues and clients, the gaps in early ...


Mike McShane thinks education reformers care too much about bad schools. Having visited some truly bad schools in my day--including a few places where it took incredible force of will not to grab the children and run screaming from the building--I have to disagree. When children are involved, and when public funding is at stake, we--both society as a whole and the government entities that oversee school funding--there is a level of quality and performance below which is it just unacceptable to allow a child to remain in a school. Period. Our moral obligations as adults demand this.The schools ...


David Brooks and Gail Collins also discussed pre-k in their Opinionator web dialogue series this week. I'm not sure that David Brooks really knows much about Head Start (his comment that the program needs to provide more "many more wraparound services" suggests he's unaware of Head Start's core and long-standing focus on comprehensive child development, including nutrition, health, and family services). But he does have one really key point: "Head Start needs to see the same reform energy that K-12 is seeing." Yet, Head Start has been largely ignored by K-12 reformers, even though it's an $8 billion annual program ...


With both Senate and House committees holding hearings on pre-k, the issue's gotten some attention this week, including able coverage from my Politics K12 colleagues. A few thoughts: Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White clearly and thoughtfully articulates the extremely complex and interdependent relationship between quality, access, and funding in any practical effort to improve early education at the state or local level. He also unpacks how fragmentation of multiple local, state, and federal funding streams further complicates these efforts. His testimony on this is well worth reading. While it's great fun for small government types to bemoan that the ...


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