Education Week - March 16, 2016 - (Page 13)

GOVERNMENT & POLITICS Early-Education Measures Percolating at State, Local Levels Pre-K upgrades, funding among proposals on tap Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has a sweet idea to boost early-childhood education in his cash-strapped city. In his first budget address, the freshman mayor proposed a 3 cents-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks that he says would generate $400 million over the next five years, more than half of which would be allotted to universal prekindergarten in the city. "There is simply nowhere else to find this revenue. We all know we can't raise property taxes again," said Kenney in his March 3 address. Philadelphia's proposal to expand prekindergarten is just one of several ideas percolating among city and state leaders around the country during this legislative year. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, about 450 bills with some tie to early childhood are pending in 46 states. At this early stage, it's unclear how many of those proposals will be enacted into law. But if local and state lawmakers follow the trend of previous years, many places will see increased early-childhood investment. Rise in Spending In a report released in January, the Education Commission of the States, which tracks state policy, found that state funding for preschool programs increased by $755 million between fiscal 2015 and 2016, for a total of nearly $7 billion. An increase was seen in 32 states and in the District of Columbia. The state increases in funding also appeared to be bipartisan, with 22 states that have Republican governors and 10 with Democratic governors allotting more money to early-childhood education for fiscal 2016. "Not only has the funding level been going up every year, but we're seeing additional states every year who were not funding pre-K Charles Mostoller for Education Week By Christina A. Samuels Students in Elizabeth Chico's prekindergarten class read books on the carpet at Rising Stars APM Preschool in North Philadelphia. at the state level starting to do that," said Emily Workman, an analyst with the commission who co-wrote the report. The number of states that do not provide any state funds for preschool now stands at just five: Idaho, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Bipartisanship is on display in Minnesota, where Republican and Democratic lawmakers last week proposed the "A Better Chance," or ABC Act, which would expand access to prekindergarten scholarships that low-income children could use at public or private programs. It would also fully fund the state's quality-rating system, which ranks early-childhood programs, and homevisiting programs. In 2015, the National Institute for Early Education Research said that Minnesota ranked last in terms of access for 4-year-olds among the states that paid for preschool programs. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is planning to make early childhood a priority again this legislative year and is eyeing the state's $900 million budget surplus to help pay for it. Nonfiscal Approaches Program expansion is not the only policy prescription on the table. In Tennessee, lawmakers have offered proposals they say will help make the state's program better. A bill pending in the House of Representatives would require the state's prekindergarten program to offer teacher professional development, more parent-engagement programs, and a coordinated plan between preschools and elementary schools. The bill is intended to address some of the problems raised in a multiyear study released in 2015 from Vanderbilt University. Researchers found that children who attended the state's voluntary Pre-K program started off school strong, but that by kindergarten, were generally indistinguishable academically from comparable peers who did not enroll in the program. By 3rd grade, the children who attended pre-K were performing worse on some academic and behavioral measures than similar classmates who were never in the program. In New Jersey, legislators are considering a bill to require every district to offer a full-day kindergarten program. Currently, about 20 percent of school districts do not. State Sen. Teresa Ruiz, a Democrat, has also submitted a bill that would expand free early education to 3and 4-year-olds in up to 17 additional districts. Thirty-one poor urban districts in the state currently have state-funded preschool as part of a settlement on an educational equity case. Federal Proposals At the federal level, President Barack Obama's proposed budget includes a $434 million increase for Head Start, for a total of $9.6 million. The money would be used to support expansion of Early Head Start, which serves pregnant women and children up to age 3, as well as the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. Those partnerships link federal Early Head Start programs with private providers in an effort to increase the number of high-quality child-care slots. The increase would also be used to help more programs set up full-year, full-day offerings. The budget also proposes small increases to special education programs overseen by the U.S. Department of Education that are aimed at infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. And it would provide an additional $400 million in the upcoming fiscal year to the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. The continued focus on early-childhood education nationwide is gratifying, said Laura Sparks, the executive director of the Philadelphia-based William Penn Foundation, which has supported early-childhood programs in the city for 40 years. "Cities and states are realizing if they want to invest in our future, this is one of the most effective and efficient ways to do it," she said. Acting Ed. Secretary Urges Congress to Renew Career-Tech Law of career-tech-ed advocates pushing Congress this week for more funding Acting Education Secretary John for the law. B. King Jr. is urging Congress to re"It's time for Congress to reauthorize authorize the Carl D. Perkins Career the Perkins Act so that every student, and Technical Education Act, even in every community, has access to though prospects for its revision and rigorous, relevant, and results-driven CTE programs," said King, according to approval appear dim. Last renewed in 2006, the Perkins remarks prepared for delivery. Act funnels more than $1 billion a year into career and technical education at Building Skills the middle school, high school, and college levels. Lawmakers started the The best CTE programs build stuprocess of reviewing and reworking it dents' creativity, critical thinking several years ago, and wanted to focus and problem-solving skills, and help in particular on building more con- them prepare for additional educasistency into the quality of CTE pro- tion and good jobs after high school, grams. But those efforts have largely the prepared speech said. stalled. "Today's CTE is about the future Building on remarks he made you can't prepare for with just a earlier in the week to a gathering textbook," the prepared remarks of mayors, King used a March 9 ap- said. "It's about learning how to build pearance in Baltimore to draw at- your own business, from an idea to tention to the need for Perkins Act a prototype and beyond. It's about reauthorization. His voice joins those creating new tools to solve everyday By Catherine Gewertz problems. It's about applying practical skills to tackle major challenges, like global warming or public health crises. One thing is clear-it's not your grandfather's 'shop class.' " President Barack Obama's administration has been pushing for greater innovation among young people and the creation of "makerspaces" to support it. The White House hosted a CTE innovation fair last fall, and will soon name a group of "CTE Presidential Scholars" who exemplify ambitious goals in career and technical education. The administration has also been pushing to build incentives into the Perkins Act for innovative, high-quality CTE programs. And it wants the law to better define the courses that should make up a good CTE program, make sure that career pathways reflect the needs of the labor market, and describe how mastery of CTE content should be measured. Congress isn't in love with all the Obama administration's ideas for a reauthorized Perkins Act, though, including a proposal to distribute some of the funding through competitions, instead of doling it out through a standard formula. CTE advocates are also concerned that the administration's approach to funding CTE would make too little formula funding available, squeezing program supply as demand rises. Between those reservations and election-year complications in Washington, few are optimistic that the Perkins Act will be reauthorized soon. Grant Competition In Baltimore, King announced a new competition, sponsored by the Education Department, to create space for high-quality CTE programs. Called the "Career Technical Education Makeover Challenge," it will distribute a total of $200,000 to as many as 10 applicants to convert space in their high school building into places equipped to allow students to design and build things. King used his appearance to team up with Baltimore City schools CEO Gregory Thornton to help the city in its bid to open a P-TECH school. The Pathways in Technology Early College High School is a model started in New York City with a partnership that includes the city's high schools, colleges, and the tech giant IBM. It blends rigorous high school and college study with preparation for high-tech careers and real-world work, allowing students to graduate with high school diplomas and associate degrees. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has been working with state lawmakers to gain approval for a P-TECH school in Baltimore, and King wants to showcase the model as the kind of CTE program that could benefit more students through a reauthorized Perkins Act. EDUCATION WEEK | March 16, 2016 | | 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 16, 2016

Education Week - March 16, 2016
States Hit Accelerator On Accountability
Immigrant Influxes Test U.S. Schools
Researchers Flag Downside Of Moving to Better Schools
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Potential Use of ‘Blockchain’ Tech for K-12 Debated by Experts
Blogs of the Week
Early-Education Measures Percolating at State, Local Levels
Acting Ed. Secretary Urges Congress to Renew Career-Tech Law
ESSA Rulemaking: A Guide to Negotiations
Blogs of the Week
ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN: Keeping Schoolhouse Doors Open for Immigrant Children
GARRETT NEIMAN: For Disadvantaged Students, New SAT Is First Step
Q&A With Author David Denby: A Quest for ‘Serious’ Reading In the Digital Age
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
ARNOLD PACKER: Should Citizenship Be a Goal of Education?

Education Week - March 16, 2016