A Purple Agenda for (Early) Education

I’m pleased to share my commentary in today’s Education Week, “A Purple Agenda for (Early) Education (print edition title).” It begins:

“Education policy has become as polarized as the rest of American politics. In the new administration, disagreements over standards, funding, school choice, and students’ civil rights are sure to intensify. Yet despite this polarized state of affairs, liberal and conservative education priorities are converging in a number of important respects, driven in part by mounting research findings. Common ground is emerging where conservative commitments to character formation, strong families, and local solutions meet liberal commitments to services that help low-income families overcome obstacles to improving their quality of life.

Borrowing a term from the Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, I suggest that a number of educational priorities, described below, are “purple”—they resonate with both red and blue constituencies. Further, these priorities animate a powerful reform movement that is spreading across the country ….”

 

Principles of Effective P-3 Partnerships: Improved Family Engagement Language

I have strengthened the language around family engagement and support in the principles for effective P-3 partnerships and the associated theory of action graphic. You will see that I drew on a consolidated version of the renowned Head Start family and community engagement outcomes, which I think are right on-point and fit well within the context of the P-3 theory of action. Check out the Overview and/or the Full Explanation (a 12-minute read). Many thanks to my EDC colleague, Heidi Rosenberg, for her helpful suggestions.

Also see Melissa Dahlin’s article at New America’s EdCentral: All in the Family: Supporting Students through Family Engagement in ESSA.

A Lesson For Preschools: When It’s Done Right, The Benefits Last (NPR)

From a recent NPR article:

“Is preschool worth it? Policymakers, parents, researchers and us, at NPR Ed, have spent a lot of time thinking about this question.

We know that most pre-kindergarten programs do a good job of improving ‘ specific skills like phonics and counting, as well as broader social and emotional behaviors, by the time students enter kindergarten. Just this week, a study looking at more than 20,000 students in a state-funded preschool program in Virginia found that kids made large improvements in their alphabet recognition skills.

So the next big question to follow is, of course, Do these benefits last?

New research out of North Carolina says yes, they do. The study found that early childhood programs in that state resulted in higher test scores, a lower chance of being held back in a grade, and a fewer number of children with special education placements. Those gains lasted up through the fifth grade….

The big difference between the long-term findings in North Carolina and Tulsa and the fade out in Tennessee, researchers say, is the quality of the preschool program.

Having a high-quality program is key, says Dodge. ‘The long-term impact,’ he says, ‘depends entirely on quality and how well elementary schools build on the foundations set in pre-K.'”

See here for the full article.

“Affordable Child Care: The Secret to a Better Economy”

Of the 24 million children under 6 in the United States today, some 12 million need day care, because both parents work or a single parent is the breadwinner. Yet most working families can’t afford good care — if they can even find it in the first place. In 2006, a federal study gave a “high quality” rating to only 10 percent of the nation’s child care programs, and the proportion today is almost certainly smaller, since government financing for child care has declined in the past decade.

So it is no surprise that child care has become a campaign issue, with both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump proposing to help with costs that now average nearly $18,000 a year for two children in a child care center (or about 30 percent of median family income). What is surprising is that it has taken so long for the issue to gain prominence. After all, affordable high-quality child care is one remedy to the long stagnation in wages afflicting most of the work force. It is also an antidote to the waning productivity that threatens future living standards.

New York Times Editorial: https://go.edc.org/8hfw

Atlantic Monthly: Boston’s Preschools a Model for Later Grades

After a relentless focus on quality in the early years, the city is even bringing lessons learned to later grades …

Changing all of early elementary school in a methodical and purposeful way to better resemble the student-centered structure of preschool would be a much bigger win than just proving that preschool helps students do better in kindergarten, Sachs said. And those aren’t just words. Starting this coming school year, his department will be responsible not just for preschool and kindergarten curriculum and coaching, but for first and second grade as well.

Atlantic Monthly: What Boston’s Preschools Get Right