pre k education

A new report, out today, provides 186 pages of answers to one of the toughest questions in education:

What does it take to get preschool right?

Parents and politicians alike want to know. States are spending roughly $7 billion this year on early childhood education, despite the fact that there are more cautionary tales — like this one from Tennessee — than success stories.

Today’s release from The Learning Policy Institute, “The Road to High-Quality Early Learning: Lessons from the States,” helps balance the preschool debate by highlighting a handful of states that appear to be getting pre-K right: Michigan, West Virginia, Washington and North Carolina.

What Good Preschool Looks Like: Snapshots From 4 States

Image: Sean Ashby/Getty Images


Researchers have been tracking Jose Arriaga since he was 4 years old, waiting for the day he would start ninth grade. This fall, Jose is a freshman at Booker T. Washington High School, a selective public school in north Tulsa. And no one is more proud of him than his mother Veronica Arriaga.

“He’s been a straight-A student throughout middle school,” Mrs. Arriaga says in Spanish. “That’s why he’s here.”

Jose agrees. He says preschool gave him a big jump-start: “Once I got into kindergarten and first grade, I knew how to count, read … and everything got easier from there.”

Researchers who’ve been studying preschoolers in Tulsa say the same is true for most of the children who entered the city’s pre-K program in 2005.

“These children did show huge gains in early math and early literacy skills,” says Deborah Phillips, a developmental psychologist at Georgetown University has been overseeing the study. “They were more likely to be engaged in school, less timid in the classroom and more attentive.”

10 Years In, Tulsa’s Pre-K Investment Is Paying Off

Credit: Kenneth M. Ruggiano for NPR

Something’s wrong in America’s classrooms.

According to new data from the Education Department, black students — from kindergarten through high school — are 3.8 times more likely to be suspended than white students.

Now the really bad news.

This trend begins in preschool, where black children are already 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than white students.

In all, 6,743 children who were enrolled in public pre-K received one or more out-of-school suspensions in the 2013-14 school year.

Glass half-full: That number’s down slightly and relatively small considering the 1.4 million kids who, according to the Education Department, attended public pre-K that year.

Glass half-empty: That’s 6,743 kids too many, say several top child development experts.

Why Preschool Suspensions Still Happen (And How To Stop Them)

Illustration: Kristen Uroda for NPR

Class Mantra:

There’s no such thing as a girl toy or a boy toy.

There’s no such thing as a boy book or a girl book.

Colors aren’t boys or girls.

Girls are not better than boys.  Boys are not better than girls.

It is okay to be a boy and a girl and be friends.

Is the toy fun?  Does it help you learn?  Does the book interest you? Did you find out anything you didn’t know before? Do you like the color?  How does your friend treat you?  How do you treat your friends?

These are the things that matter.

Single GIF shows how legal marijuana could be the best thing for our kids

Far from tearing apart the social fabric of America, as some opponents say, legalizing marijuana could be exactly what’s needed to rebuild our communities.

Take a look at the GIF above. Legalizing marijuana would create a whopping $18.1 billion annually in government funds. That’s right, 18 BILLION. With that money, we could guarantee universal access to pre-K education for every single child.

The math is simple | Follow micdotcom

“If we’re serious about protecting our communities and supporting our police departments, then let’s invest in more opportunity, and let’s try to stop more crime before it starts. Let’s go after the racial disparities at the root. One study found that for every dollar we invest in pre-K—in universal pre-K, early childhood education—we save at least twice that down the road in reduced crime. Getting a teenager a job for the summer may cost some money, but it costs a fraction of what it will cost to lock him up for 15 years. It’s not enough to tell our young people that crime doesn’t pay if they have no prospects at all. We’ve got to make sure they grow up knowing that hard work and responsibility pay off and that they’ve got other paths available to them.” —President Obama on criminal justice reform

  • Me: Come here S.
  • S: Okay (comes over and puts his arm over my shoulder).
  • Me: I'm about to tell you something very important, so I need you to focus and do a good job listening.
  • S: You got it Ms. PPT!
  • Me: You always cheer for every kid in the class when they get an answer right or do something that they couldn't do before.
  • S: Yup.
  • Me: I want you to keep doing that for the rest of your life no matter what. Even when you're too cool to give your old Pre-K teacher a hug, I want you to keep cheering people on and celebrating with them.
  • S: Okay! (Hugs me)
  • S: (whispering) I'll never be too cool for you.
First Impressions

Friday was orientation for our Pre-K Parents.  Most of the parents from my class came and also brought their children.  The children were all very well-behaved during the super long and boring presentation that we have to do.  I felt like this: While the parents were filling out paper work, one of the active (but not misbehaving) boys was making it hard for his mom to get the paperwork done.  I called him over to me and we had a long conversation about cars and by the time his mother was done with the paperwork he was laying on the bench I was sitting on with his head in my lap.  

Then there was a little girl who kept on coming over to give me hugs and kisses.   She is also in my class.Later in the afternoon, I got to watch all of my students from last year come in an inch or two taller and find their new classrooms during meet the teacher.  Not going to lie, I totally charged them all and gave them the biggest hugs.  Got lots of hugs and kisses from the moms as well.

In the afternoon, one of my ESE kids came.  He had just been registered that day.  I took him to see the room.   He walked up to my alphabet poster and said, “A - apple, B - Ball…”  while pointing to letters.

I am so excited about tomorrow that I don’t know that I’ll be able to sleep.


Dearest Tumblr Readers,

I have a student who has beautiful brown skin.  I’ve called her my fashionista all year because she is always in the most adorable outfits – and she has a lot of input in what she wears.   She loves to match things and be creative with dress up clothes in our dramatic play center.She is a four year old with gusto, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind to anyone.  

However, a relative made a comment about their skin color in a negative way.   She told my assistant about it first thing this morning.   I do not know the context and if the person was repeating something someone said to him or her.  I do know, however, that this comment got stuck to her like a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of her shoe.   Obviously, we talked about it.   I showed her pictures of her that I have and asked her to tell me what she saw and it was all positive.  However, she was not herself the whole day and was very focused on everyone’s skin.  I am a white teacher.  This is a situation that I want to handle as best as I can.  I already have a pretty diverse classroom library as far as characters in picture books.  All of my students, are POC.  With the exception of books about different countries, I don’t have many books with real photographs of people (of any race).

So my question is 2 part:

First (and most importantly) if I have any followers that are POC that have any ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Secondly, does anyone know of a book that is appropriate of a 4-5 year old featuring fashions and people with a variety of skin tones?  I realize representation isn’t great.  I also know it is important. I’d love to see if I could buy a copy for my room and one for her to keep.

Also, if there is room for me to grow in how I’ve handled it so far, please let me know.

Translation: Happy

The majority of my students’ parents speak Spanish.  Some speak a lesser-known dialect.  While my Spanish improves every year, it is not nearly good enough to conduct an entire parent teacher conference.  However, I think it is important for me to say what I can to the parent in Spanish directly.  Using a translator, sometimes makes it feel like another wall of separation between the family and myself.  Since we do home visits twice a year and we have a high number of regular parent volunteers, it feels distant to then have to go through a translator.   My assistant is a native Spanish speaker, and she sits in on all of my parent conferences with Spanish speaking parents.  She translates and is also able to check to make sure I’m not telling the parents something I don’t mean when I do use Spanish.   My assistant is not 100% fluent in English, but really does fabulous.  However, I think between the dialect a family speaks, her Spanish and knowledge of English, and difficulty in translating Spanish expressions, some things are lost.

This past week we met with both the mother and father of one of my students.  At the beginning of the year, when we met with mom she cried because her son was doing so well and she thought he would struggle in school.  So it was an honor to tell both parents that not only did her meet every Pre-K goal, he has begun working on Kindergarten skills and knows 35 Kindergarten sight words.  He is reading full sentences.  He is hard working and helpful in the classroom.  Learning excites him.

As we walked them out, the mom said something to my assistant that I am sure didn’t translate perfectly.  My assistant said, “She said this year made her happy with you.”  

Me too.  Me too.