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Intervening early in reading troubles helps Delaware kids succeed

By Caroline O’Neal is executive director of the Reading Assist Institute in Wilmington

Last year, Jessica started her first year of kindergarten, and she was already falling behind. Her classmates had started to connect the sounds of the English language with letters on the page, but she didn’t understand how they were doing it. Her struggle caused her to become shy — virtually non-verbal inside the classroom. At the end of the year, she wasn’t ready to start first grade. This year, Jessica started her second year of kindergarten, but with daily, intensive reading intervention, Jessica has started to make progress for the first time. And she’s started talking again.This is an intervention that makes a difference. But it could have started earlier. Read more.

Delaware's big opportunity: Reverse the enrollment, funding trends for Universal Pre-K

By W. Steven Barnett is a professor and senior co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education

Delawareans are increasingly aware their state needs to invest to increase access to high-quality pre-K for all children. That’s not surprising considering what we learned from collecting and analyzing nearly 20 years of data on state investments in pre-K. The National Institute for Early Education Research has tracked enrollment and funding in state supported pre-K programs since 2001. Across that entire period only four states have gone backwards.

Delaware is one. Only one state did worse. Read more.

Delaware's Pre-K system faces a perfect storm of under-funding

By Lucinda Ross is executive director of St. Michael’s School and Nursery. She is president-elect of the Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children

The perfect storm is heading towards our youngest citizens. I have been in the early childhood profession for over 30 years; both my undergraduate and graduate degrees focused on the development of young children. I continue to be fascinated, delighted, and sometimes concerned for the little ones I see daily at St. Michael’s School and Nursery; they inspire me and constantly remind me of the responsibility we all need to hold for their well-being and for their lives’ trajectories. Many of us in early childhood education were very excited when brain research began to confirm what we had known throughout our studies and practice; even the youngest learn through interactions with their environments and the people around them. The importance of our teaching profession was confirmed and validated. Read more.

Teacher of the Year: All children deserve quality pre-K

By Dana Bowe teaches kindergarten through second grade at the Sussex County Orthopedic Program in Seaford, and is the 2019 Delaware Teacher of the Year. 

In a career that spans four states, two decades, and one Delaware Teacher of the Year award, I’ve seen the impact quality early learning can have on kids - up close and personal. At a private early learning center in Bethesda, Md., I saw how affluent families and well-supported educators provided children with all the resources they’ll need for social and academic success. Inside my kindergarten classroom in Denver, which was filled with 5-year-olds who were still learning English, I saw under-resourced kids and families who would have benefited greatly from those same opportunities. Read more.

Study finds breaking cycle of poverty could start in preschool classroom
New research from one of the country’s leading experts in childhood development shows high-quality educational interventions in a child’s first few years of life can result in lasting economic, health and social benefits that extend beyond a single generation. In 2010, James Heckman, a Nobel Laureate with the University of Chicago’s Center for the Economics of Human Development, analyzed the success of the Perry Preschool Project from an economic standpoint. His research found that the 1962-1967 program, which provided high-quality preschool and home visits to at-risk 3 and 4-year-olds in Ypsilanti, Michigan, had a 7% to 10% per year return on investment. Read more.

Lawmakers Are Listening: Our Legislative Recap
As the first half of the state legislature came to a close this week, one thing was clear: They heard us loud and clear. Universal pre-K is gaining support in Legislative Hall and the community. It is no longer a matter of "if," but "when" and "how,” which is progress to celebrate. Many lawmakers indicated their support for universal pre-K, including those who introduced Senate Bill 173 this session—a bill that will create a Universal Pre-K Consortium to ultimately recommend a comprehensive plan for the implementation of a mixed-delivery, non-compulsory public pre-kindergarten program for all Delaware four-year-olds. The bill passed through the Senate and is ready for action with the House of Representatives. We look forward to working with legislators again when session resumes in January.Read more.

Early childhood education is the smartest investment we can make in Delaware kids
By Stuart Comstock-Gay, president and CEO of the Delaware Community Foundation (DCF), and Lynn Adams Kokjohn, chair of the Fund for Women at the DCF. 

How can we really expand opportunity for kids in Delaware? Plain and simple, invest in high-quality early childhood education, said Robert Putnam, author of New York Times bestseller “Our Kids.” Putnam has investigated decades of data on the factors that influence kids’ lives, in school and throughout their future. When Putnam visited Delaware this fall for a Delaware Community Foundation event, his presentation made clear that early learning is one of the best – and highest yielding – investments a society can make. Experts equate a $4 to $9 return for every dollar spent on high-quality early learning programs for low-income children. Read more.

Delaware still lags behind in state-supported pre-K
By Madeleine Bayard, chairwoman of the Delaware Early Childhood Council. She leads the Rodel Foundation’s policy, programmatic, government affairs, and communications initiatives.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), Delaware ranks 35th among states for pre-K enrollment, with only seven percent (845) of 4-year olds enrolled in state-sponsored pre-K. Despite Delaware’s laudable progress in early childhood education, the fact remains that we’re below most other states when it comes to state-sponsored pre-K. Why is that figure important? As we’ve noted before, as we continue to align the pre-K and K-12 systems, we need to ensure as many kids as possible are coming to kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed. Right now, Delaware pre-K offerings are scattershot: Some providers are funded through the state, some are private businesses, while others receive a mix of private and public funding. There is little coordination or alignment between various programs. Read more.

Reversing a poor pre-K showing
By Dan Linehan, Special to Delaware Business Times

No two states fund K-12 education the same, but there are even bigger differences when it comes to support for preschool. Three states plus the District of Columbia have universal pre-K and six more pay for preschool the same way they pay for grade school. In recent state rankings of pre-K enrollment, Delaware landed at 36th place with fewer than 10 percent of its 4-year-olds enrolled in state-sponsored preschool. The words “scattershot” and “hodgepodge” are often used to describe the state’s pre-K system, as some districts offer services but they’re not available to most kids. Read more.

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