Our littlest learners are receiving some attention in high places, thanks to recent findings in neuroscience, child development and economics, as well as the work of advocates who champion the benefits of early learning and high-quality preschool. Here we look at why early childhood education is on the agenda of politicians, foundations and policymakers – and the many obstacles that remain to providing a high-quality start for all children in the U.S.

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Can voters force Mississippi to cough up cash and fund schools?

By Jackie Mader and Liz Willen

JACKSON, Miss. – Year after year, school officials in this poor and largely rural state say they scramble to stock classrooms with basic supplies like textbooks and pencils. They seek donations from outside groups and wonder if they’ll ever have enough money to hire coaches and classroom assistants. Now, a newly formed group is taking a fresh […]

Report: Both black and white children lag in Mississippi

By Jackie Mader

When it comes to education, health, and economic opportunity, both white and black children in Mississippi are worse off than their peers in nearly every other state, a report and rankings released Tuesday found. White children in Mississippi ranked below all states except for West Virginia, while black children in the Magnolia state ranked below […]

Does Pre-K really help?

By Sarah Garland

The big news in New York City this week is that Mayor Bill de Blasio got the money he was looking for to fund universal pre-kindergarten in the city. It’s also a national story, though, because many states and cities across the country, egged on by an Obama administration initiative, have been pushing for more […]

Whites and Asians have a disproportionate share of pre-k seats in NYC

By Jill Barshay

These pie charts show that whites make up fewer than 15 percent of the student population in New York City’s public schools, but they took nearly 18 percent of the city’s limited and coveted pre-kindergarten slots in the 2011-12 school year, the most recent year that data was available. That’s according to an interactive civil […]

Mississippi finally funds statewide pre-K — but only for six percent of its youngest learners

By Jackie Mader

ABERDEEN, Miss.— In the 23 years that Jennifer Calvert has offered preschool for 4-year-olds in this rural town, she has never filled a classroom. Last year, just six students signed up, even though Calvert has room for 19 in her bright, spacious child care center. Calvert said that many families wanted their children in pre-kindergarten, […]

Q&A with San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro: Preschool initiative ‘a model for the nation’

By Emily Richmond

A few years ago, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro – the Democratic Party’s first Hispanic keynote convention speaker – decided his city needed to expand its preschool opportunities for young children. To pay for it, Castro built a coalition of public-private partnerships and bipartisan support and convinced voters in 2012 to approve a new tax that would fund expanded preschool opportunities throughout the city.

Obama sells Race to Top, early-childhood education in State of the Union

By Alyson Klein

President Barack Obama placed education at the center of a broad strategy to bolster economic mobility and combat poverty—calling on Congress in his State of the Union speech to approve previously unveiled initiatives to expand preschool to more 4-year-olds, beef up job-training programs, and make post-secondary education more effective and accessible.

Could New York’s Pre-k plan pit politics and posturing above kids?

By Liz Willen

A quick glance at New York headlines this week reveals a somewhat ironic fight about pre-kindergarten, a topic of huge importance to educators and families that under normal circumstances gets little press coverage. But take distinct and dueling plans from two powerful New York Democrats — the city’s liberal, let’s-tax-the-wealthy Mayor Bill de Blasio vs. […]

The power of preschool done right

By Sara Neufeld

CHICAGO–Mesha Exum wonders how her life would have turned out without a stroke of good luck 11 years ago. She was 16 with an infant son then, and she thought she would have to drop out of high school after finding baby Adonis wet, screaming and unattended at the end of his first day of […]

PreK-3 movement trying to overhaul early education, but faces obstacles

By Sarah Garland

A few years ago, preschool teachers in Santa Maria, a low-income, mostly Hispanic city north of Santa Barbara, CA, attended a series of meetings with kindergarten teachers in the district. Most had never met. Although their students were only a year apart in age, teachers had little idea what happened in each other’s classrooms. What […]