High Quality Early Education
The first years of a child’s life are the most formative. Research shows the importance of investing in young children and their families to foster early brain development and to lay a strong foundation for later learning. Increasing recognition that learning and achievement gaps start long before kindergarten continues to spur public interest in building early support systems.
The Latest on High Quality Early Education
This report provides a detailed roadmap for making high-quality, full-day prekindergarten available for all three- and four-year-old children in New York State over an eight-year period.
"Community schools" are a new model for public education focused on building community partnerships to ensure all students have access to the types of wraparound academic, social and health supports they need to succeed in school. This short animated video shows how Oakland Unified School District is transforming its schools to be community hubs offering integrated student supports. Check it out!
The 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book provides a detailed picture of how children are faring in the United States. In addition to ranking states on overall child well-being, the Data Book ranks states in four domains: Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community.
This report card on New York State's progress in improving public education is far from stellar. The report card finds that the state is moving in the right direction only in expanding access to pre-K and creating community schools. Otherwise, New York's policymakers are failing to ensure equity for all students in areas like expanded learning time, providing challenging and engaging curriculum, school climate, and school funding. Providing these resources and opportunities are the standards by which every state and and policymaker should be held accountable.
20 years after Massachusetts (often lauded as a leader in education policy) passed the Education Reform Act of 1993, Citizens for Public Schools, an OTL ally, took a long hard look at the results of that law to find the state still has a ways to go toward ensure equity and opportunity for all Massachusetts students. [Executive summary available below. Download the full report here.]
How do you explain the opportunity gap to someone who isn't familiar with the education debate? Just show them this new video from the OTL Campaign! "A Special Message to Grown Ups, Love Kids" is a video introduction to the OTL Campaign that we developed with the help of the phenomenal video production studio SoulPancake. The video provides a simple explanation of why all kids deserve the same resources and opportunities to learn.
The National Education Policy Center's new book "Closing the Opportunity Gap" offers a wide array of policy recommendations for closing the opportunity gap and ensuring all students have the resources they need to succeed. This policy guide distills the most important recommendations from the book at three different levels: at the level of students' individual needs, at the level of in-school opportunities and resources, and at the level of communities and neighborhoods.
Top-down pressure from federal education policies such as Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind, bolstered by organized advocacy efforts, is making a popular set of market-oriented education “reforms” look more like the new status quo than real reform. Reformers assert that test-based teacher evaluation, increased access to charter schools, and the closure of “failing” and under-enrolled schools will boost at-risk students’ achievement and narrow longstanding race- and income-based achievement gaps. This new report from the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education examines these assertions by comparing the impacts of these reforms in three large urban school districts – Washington, D.C., New York City, and Chicago – with student and school outcomes over the same period in other large, high-poverty urban districts. The report finds that the reforms deliver few benefits, often harm the students they purport to help, and divert attention from a set of other, less visible policies with more promise to weaken the link between poverty and low educational attainment.
Despite the research showing that early learning and after-school programs help close the achievement gap by ensuring children are prepared to start school and continue to achieve once they're there, this report from NY OTL ally Campaign for Children shows how funding instability for these programs could lead to their collapse. Thousands of students from low-income families stand to lose these vital opportunities that represent a key resource in a support-based education reform model.
We've all heard about the long-term benefits on early childhood education and services. Better access to quality early opportunities increases graduation rates, saves communities money on remediation or criminal justice, and increases the tax base. But how about the short-term? Short-term benefits are easier to build public and, crucially, political will around. "Savings Now, Savings Later" is an incredibly useful two-page brief from ReadyNation that outlines all the benefits of early childhood education and services in easy-to-understand, statistics-filled talking points. From parent mentoring programs to basic health care services to quality pre-k programs, the evidence is clear: access to these programs creates healthier and stronger children, families and communities.