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New Bill Brings Hope For Early Childhood Education

VIDEO OF THE DAY

What Matters for a Child’s Future isn’t IQ. It’s This: Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth’s Ted Talk on Grit. The Washington Post, November 20, 2013 

 

THE LOWDOWN

Building upon the framework outlined by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address, the Senate HELP Committee introduced the Strong Start for America’s Children Act. This bill, the first significant, bipartisan, bicameral bill on prekindergarten in over a decade, expands high-quality childcare and funds preschool for all 4-year old children from families earning below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For a thorough analysis of the bill, read this. How this bill highlights the need to improve preschool in California is explained here.

Next Generation’s Ann O’Leary commends the efforts of the HELP Committee. Read this to learn how the initiative of which she is co-director, Too Small to Fail, strongly encourages parents to actively improve their children’s chances of success in school and life by closing the word gap. Then read this op-ed from Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who acknowledges that every sensation a child experiences during the first five years of life contributes to 90 percent of a child’s brain development. In a speech delivered at Brookings, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton infuses global significance into the importance of investing in early child development by linking a country’s economic prosperity to the well-being of its children.

The Senate’s preschool bill arrives at a time when underinvestment in early care and education programs unfortunately has become the norm. Today, the majority of U.S. children under age one are children of color, many of whom face the additional challenge of growing up in poverty. A new report from CAP explains why access to early education is critically important for this group of kids. To review data factually supporting the benefits low-income children and their families receive from high quality early care and education programs, check out this research.  

For the skeptics who doubt that good intentions can triumph over partisan politics, read about the praise-worthy achievements of the Oklahoma Preschool Project. Nicholas Kristof’s assessment of the Sooner State’s successful efforts to provide universal preschool is here. Katrina vanden Heuvel’s similar endorsement of the project is here.

With the December 13th federal budget deadline a little more than three weeks away, advocates seeking to preserve the social safety net convincingly argue these programs are both necessary and effective. Economist Robert A. Moffitt’s research finds aggregate safety net spending rose to $500 billion in three years because programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit, Unemployment Insurance and SNAP protected 310 million Americans during the Great Recession. Tracking the expansion and current contraction of SNAP, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities confirms food stamps performed exactly as they were intended to do. In this essay, Julia Isaacs calls on Congress to pursue a more balanced approach to deficit reduction and curtail the spending cuts in social programs for America’s children.

How Americans view marriage is the subject of a new survey, a joint effort from Pew and TIME. According to the findings, marriage is on the decline, and a new “marriage gap” exists that is increasingly aligned with a growing income gap. Compared to fifty years ago, eight times as many children are born out of wedlock, even though 78 percent of those surveyed believe children raised by a single parent face more challenges. Nagging questions and some answers on the mysterious and alarming rise of single parenthood in America are found here. For additional data on the current living arrangements of America’s families, check out this recent report from the U.S. Census

The American family is in a state of flux. However, the ability to enhance a baby’s development is enormous – commencing even before he or she is born. New research confirms the commonly held belief that mothers who remain active during pregnancy stimulate the development of their unborn child’s brain; a separate finding suggests proper nourishment during the 1,000 days after conception promotes good mental and physical outcomes for all babies. A new fact sheet from Too Small To Fail provides concrete suggestions for how parents can alleviate the high levels of stress their children experience from sudden, disruptive events. Read this to discover how attuned infants are to the cues they observe from the people all around them.

Finally, a thought-provoking commentary on the beleaguered rollout of HealthCare.gov and how it could affect other legislation comes from Thomas Edsall. Then, after reading Edsall, for supporters of the law seeking hope, review the reactions of three governors who are successfully implementing the law in their states. For those closely monitoring the federal law’s progress in California, read this interview with Drew Altman President and CEO of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, who superimposes clarity and calm on the facts and believes Covered California will pave the way for the ACA’s future success.

 

QUOTES OF THE DAY

Learning begins at birth, and the preparation for learning begins before birth. The investment we make as a nation in early learning will pay dividends for generations to come.” Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the U.S. Senate HELP Committee commenting on the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, a bill that funds preschool for low-income 4-year olds. 

"Investing in early childhood development is one of the best returns on investment that a country can make to accelerate long-term economic growth and productivity." Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a speech delivered at the Brookings Institution where she made the case that investing in early childhood development could have a significant effect on a country's economy.

“…without a doubt the ticket out of poverty.” Actress Jennifer Garner, mother of three, in a statement made during testimony on Capitol Hill in support of early education. 

Absolutely. Will it be perfect? Absolutely not.” Peter Lee, Executive Director of Covered California in answer to the following question: Do you think you're ready for a Jan. 1 start of coverage?

“…this law is ripe for death by anecdote.” Drew Altman, Head of the Kaiser Family Foundation on the impact media coverage is having on the public perception of the Affordable Care Act’s rollout.

"It's fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn't quite as good as they thought they were, and that's pretty scary." Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan addressing those whose who are expressing criticism about the Common Core Standards at a gathering of state superintendents of education. 

 

INFOGRAPHIC OF THE DAY 

WHO’S HELPED BY RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE? The Economic Policy Institute 

 

PRE-SCHOOL

Harkin, Senate Democrats Introduce Legislation to Expand Access to High-Quality Early Learning Programs

Why Universal Preschool Is Especially Important For Children Of Color

House and Senate Preschool Bills: A Guide to the Latest Proposal

Federal preschool bill highlights need to improve state program, advocates say

The Strong Start for Children Act Would Benefit Children and Families Across America 

Access to Preschool Won't End the Literacy Problem in America, Experts Say 

Closing the Word Gap for America’s Children 

Child's first 5 years hold key to success 

Hillary Clinton Pushes Early Childhood Development 

Investing in Young Children: A Fact Sheet on Early Care and Education Participation, Access, and Quality 

REPORT. The School-Readiness Gap and Preschool Benefits for Children of Color 

Investing in Young Children: A Fact Sheet on Early Care and Education Participation, Access, and Quality 

Pre-K on the Range 

OP ED. Oklahoma! Where the Kids Learn Early. Nicholas Kristof 

OP ED. Oklahoma is schooling the nation on early education. Katrina vanden Heuvel

PRESERVING THE SOCIAL SAFETY NET

How the Safety Net Held Up in the Recession 

REPORT. Aid Programs Helped U.S. Survive the Great Recession. Robert A. Moffitt, Johns Hopkins University 

SNAP Costs Leveling Off, Almost Certain to Fall Next Year 

Spending on Children Is Down, Despite High Child Poverty 

 

DECLINE OF MARRIAGE AND THE RISE OF SINGLE PARENTS

Who Needs Marriage? A Changing Institution 

The Decline of Marriage And Rise of New Families 

The Mysterious and Alarming Rise of Single Parenthood in America 

America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2012 

 

BABIES HEALTH

Factsheet: The Impact of Childhood Instability on Early Brain Development 

Age changes how young children read social cues 

The Importance Of Diet In The First 1,000 Days 

Mother’s Exercise May Boost Baby’s Brain

 

PERSPECTIVE ON THE ACA ROLLOUT

OP ED. The Obamacare Crisis. Thomas Edsall 

OP ED. How we got Obamacare to work. Jay Inslee, Steve Beshear and Dannel P. Malloy 

Drew Altman, Obamacare's ref 

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