A Good Beginning

by Carol Kocivar | April 29, 2016 | 0 Comments
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Helping Our Youngest Children

One of the great challenges in education is "How can we close the achievement gap?" But let’s ask a different and probably more important question: Can we avoid the gap in the first place?

There are never magic answers in education...but based on a growing pile of research, early learning comes pretty close. An ounce of prevention is worth about half a pound of cure. It appears that the public is starting to understand this.

Public Support for Early Education

A recent poll from the Public Policy Institute of California indicates an overwhelming majority (68%) of Californians see pre-school as important to K-12 success.

Despite this base of public support, we are not meeting the needs of many low income children. During the deep recession, about 110,000 child care and early care education slots were eliminated — about 25 percent of the services previously available. While some funding has been restored, a new policy brief, Unmet Need for Preschool Services in California: Statewide and Local Analysis, finds that many children still do not have access to early childhood education programs:

  • More than 33,000 California 4 year olds from low-income families are not enrolled in any of the publicly-funded school readiness programs for which they are eligible.
  • Approximately 137,000 3 year olds are not enrolled.

Birth to Three: The Critical years

Amazing advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and genomics are steadily revealing a much deeper understanding of how early experiences are built into our bodies and brains. Early learning starts before Pre-K.

New Efforts to Support Early Learning

  • The Right Start Commission's new report, Rebuilding the California Dream, is part of a high powered advocacy effort to create a child-centered system that nurtures every child from the beginning of life.
  • Governor Brown is proposing a block grant for early childhood education, subject to revision from community input. (But no new funding.)
  • The California Legislative Analyst recommends full-day preschool for all low-income working families.
  • The Assembly Education Commission passed the Quality Early Education and Development Act (AB 2660 - McCarty), which requires the California Department of Education to develop a multi-year plan for a pre-kindergarten system.
  • The Learning Policy Institute just published The Building Blocks of High-Quality Early Childhood Education Programs, which identifies 10 important elements of high-quality early childhood education programs.

The rub, of course, in all these discussions is to link good research, public will, and additional resources.

You can find more information about Early Learning in Ed100 lessons 2.4, 4.1 and 6.16.

Is your community doing something great for young learners? Send us a note! Carol@ed100.org

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