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 ...


In their great NYT op-ed today on what policymakers should do to maximize the impact of pre-k investments, Dan Willingham and David Grissmer make two equally key points: 1) Policymakers need to do a better job of ensuring that pre-k standards and quality definitions actually implement what research tells us makes a difference for preschool learning (hint: lots of programs don't do this), 2) That said, we don't know as much as we should about how to do pre-k well, and policymakers can--should-- design pre-k expansion in ways that enhance our knowledge so that further expansion can have even greater ...


All this talk about pre-k in New York and New Jersey reminded me of Sophia Pappas' great book Goodmorning, Children. Sophia started out her career as a teacher in an Abbott-funded pre-k program in New Jersey, and currently runs early childhood programs for the New York City Public Schools. Her book is a great resource for anyone who wants the teacher's and kid's level perspective on what good preschool looks like--and the difference it makes in kids lives . And if you want to know more about New Jersey's Abbott pre-k programs, check out this report I wrote for New America ...


I'm got a new piece up at Slate urging New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio to learn from New Jersey's Abbott pre-k program and prioritize quality, data, curriculum, and diverse providers as he seeks to expand pre-k access in New York For past commentary on deBlasio's pre-k expansion plans, see here....


As I mentioned in this previous post, the Omnibus appropriations bill includes $500 million for expansion of Head Start services for infants and toddlers. Under the language of the bill, these funds can be used for expansion of Early Head Start programs, conversion of existing Head Start to Early Head Start slots, or new discretionary grants for Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships proposed by the administration in its FY2014 budget proposal. While funds will have to be used for these purposes, my understanding is that the administration has significant discretion in how to prioritize and develop a process for allocating/awarding...


As numerous media outlets are reporting, early childhood education, and particularly Head Start, are looking like winners in the ombnibus appropriations agreement reached by Congressional negotiators last night. A quick summary of what you know: Head Start: The Omnibus would provide nearly $8.6 billion in funding for Head Start, which would not only restore funds cut from Head Start agencies by sequestration, but increase them by about $612 million above the pre-sequestration level. How will funds be used? Of the nearly $8.6 billion in funds, nearly $8.1 will be allocated through the existing Head Start formula (primarily ...


Great piece by Anya Kamenetz on all the problems with the push to implement "brain-based" approaches in education. While it's indisputable that modern science is dramatically enhancing our understanding of how the brain works and how it develops, and much of what we've learned is incredibly exciting, it's also true that trying to apply these findings to educational practice or policy is much more complicated than often assumed--and neuroscience findings often don't translated into clear implications for policy or practice. The misuse of brain science is one of the things that frustrates me most about the ongoing "boy crisis" debate ...


I'm thankful for a lot of things this Thanksgiving, including improved educational outcomes in my hometown of Washington, D.C., the great charter and DCPS educators who have contributed to those trends, and the great teachers who've had a lasting impact on my life (especially my dad and sister!). If you're thankful for teachers in your life, please join the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools in saying thanks this Thanksgiving. I'm also thankful that I'll be taking a little bit of a break to go on vacation the first week in December, but look forward to blogging here on ...


I'd agree with Russ Whitehurst that the latest findings from the independent evaluation of Tennessee's VPK program are hardly good news for universal pre-k advocates. Where I'd disagree is Russ' assertion that this single study represents some kind of devastating blow to the case for pre-k. For at least the past decade, the case for pre-k has been based not on a single study but on a growing body of evidence--from states as diverse as New Jersey and Texas, as well as internationally--that quality early childhood programs have positive results for kids. While it's indeed troubling that the strong results ...


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