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Head Start

Pre-K is Win-Win, Concludes a New Report

October 23, 2013

Early education is one of the most powerful ways to close the achievement gap between low-income and minority children and their more-advantaged peers. But all too often, pre-K advocates cite the same, decades-old research studies – the Abecedarian Project and the HighScope Perry Preschool Study, in particular – to prove the value of high-quality programs. A new report, Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education, published by the Society for Research in Child Development and the Foundation for Child Development earlier this month, offers an updated view of the research, and a path forward for scaled-up pre-K programs.

Researchers were on hand for an event at the New America Foundation last week to answer some questions (click here for the event video, or here to see a Storify summary of the Twitter conversation). Here are the report’s headline findings:

Storify: Too Much Evidence to Ignore

October 16, 2013

This week, New America's Early Education Initiative hosted an event reviewing the research on pre-K, published in a new report, “Investing in Our Children: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education," from the Foundation for Child Development and the Society for Research in Child Development.

Shutdown Got Your Data? Check Out Our Federal Education Database

October 15, 2013
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The federal government has been officially shut down for over two weeks now, and the impact has been real: furloughed employees across the country, Head Start programs shut down (and some reopened), and confusion and delays in many federal programs. But for education experts and data geeks, another issue has been highly inconvenient, if less severe: the disabling of federal education data websites.

Fortunately, Early Ed Watch’s sister initiative, the Federal Education Budget Project, maintains one of the most comprehensive federal education databases in the country for every state, school district, and institution of higher education. The data are collected from state and federal sources and updated regularly. The PreK-12 data for more than 13,700 school districts and every state include:

  • Federal funding information, like per pupil expenditures, Title I and IDEA allocations, and school lunch awards;
  • Pre-K information for state-funded pre-K, Head Start, and special education preschool grants;
  • Demographic information on enrollment and racial, economic, and academic subgroups; and
  • Achievement data for math and reading in 4th grade, 8th grade, and high school, both for state standardized tests and the NAEP exam.

Check it out now, and until the shutdown is over! For some background on the data and on other education policy topics, check out our Background & Analysis pages.

Government Shutdown Strands Departments of Education, HHS with Few Staff, No Money

October 1, 2013

This post first appeared on our sister blog, Ed Money Watch.

Congress spent the final moments of fiscal year 2013 last night in the throes of a debate over funding the government. Unable to reach agreement despite days of back-and-forth between the House and Senate, however, the government officially shut down at midnight on September 30.

Federal agencies were ordered just before midnight to begin implementing plans for a federal shutdown absent funding for fiscal year 2014, which began on October 1. Skeleton crews will remain in place at the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS) for the length of the shutdown, but most employees will be furloughed.

The first few days of the shutdown likely won’t be very severe. Education programs funded with mandatory spending—including Pell Grants and federal student loans—will continue to operate as normal. And most of the big K-12 programs, namely Title I grants to low-income students and IDEA special education grants to states, have already seen a substantial portion of their funding disbursed. Those and other programs that have already been awarded will be okay in the short term.

Some other programs won’t be so lucky. About 20 Head Start programs, enrolling nearly 19,000 children, have grants that expire on October 1 and won’t receive new funding to continue operating until the shutdown is resolved. Other federal programs, including work-study aid for college students, will also be delayed.

If the shutdown wears on, though, it could start to impact school districts, institutions of higher education, and postsecondary students more severely. Some staffers for the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services will return to the agencies to ensure operations function as normally as possible. But with no funding appropriated yet for fiscal year 2014, school districts and students are sure to pay the cost.

The dispute that led to the first federal shutdown in 17 years centered around the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law passed in 2010 for which some provisions also went into effect on October 1. Some Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives insisted on defunding and/or delaying for one year the law’s implementation, while Democrats in Congress, as well as President Obama, demanded a clean funding bill with no alterations to the healthcare law.

The debate over the Affordable Care Act is masking another divide in Congress that needs to be resolved before an annual appropriations bill is finalized, though: how and whether to fund domestic programs within a shrunken budget.

The 2011 Budget Control Act sets an overall limit on funding for domestic programs, and to avoid finding the required spending cuts in fiscal year 2013, Congress and the president enacted a law in late 2012 to reduce the 2014 levels further. That means this year, lawmakers will have to find another $18 billion in cuts to fiscal year 2014 appropriations to avert mandatory and automatic across-the-board sequesters applied to most federal programs.

But Senate Democrats have said they won’t support a bill within those limits, and House Republicans now have cold feet having realized they’d have to cut a big chunk of domestic funding back to fiscal year 2002 levels. So neither the House nor Senate has voted to approve its own spending bill for the Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education. Assuming lawmakers don’t manage to find the cuts themselves, many federal programs, including most education ones, will be sequestered again. The continuing resolutions debated over the past week have appropriated well above the 2014 rate, at prior-year levels. That means lawmakers have likely set up federal programs for another round of blunt cuts down the line.

All in all, the shutdown leaves policymakers in D.C. and recipients of federal dollars around the country with a great deal of uncertainty. Congress could choose to end this shutdown quickly, before many serious side-effects occur. Or the shutdown could drag on, with neither side willing to cave. There could even be a short-term temporary funding bill—as short as one week, some lawmakers have argued—that would precipitate another round of the same debates almost immediately.

Finally, in just a few weeks, on October 17, the U.S. is projected to reach the nation’s debt ceiling. A bill to raise the debt ceiling could be seen as a prime legislative vehicle to pass a 2014 spending bill – but some members of Congress are considering yet another showdown when the debt ceiling debate rolls around.

Check back with Ed Money Watch and Higher Ed Watch over the coming weeks for more details, and for information on the 2013 and 2014 appropriations process, we’ve got the details in our April 2013 issue brief, Federal Education Budget Update: Fiscal Year 2013 Recap and Fiscal Year 2014 Early Analysis.

Government Shutdown Strands Departments of Education, HHS with Few Staff, No Money

October 1, 2013

This post first appeared on our sister blog, Ed Money Watch.

Congress spent the final moments of fiscal year 2013 last night in the throes of a debate over funding the government. Unable to reach agreement despite days of back-and-forth between the House and Senate, however, the government officially shut down at midnight on September 30.

Federal agencies were ordered just before midnight to begin implementing plans for a federal shutdown absent funding for fiscal year 2014, which began on October 1. Skeleton crews will remain in place at the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS) for the length of the shutdown, but most employees will be furloughed.

Government Shutdown Strands Departments of Education, HHS with Few Staff, No Money

October 1, 2013

This post also appeared on our sister blogs, Early Ed Watch and Higher Ed Watch.

Congress spent the final moments of fiscal year 2013 last night in the throes of a debate over funding the government. Unable to reach agreement despite days of back-and-forth between the House and Senate, however, the government officially shut down at midnight on September 30.

Federal agencies were ordered just before midnight to begin implementing plans for a federal shutdown absent funding for fiscal year 2014, which began on October 1. Skeleton crews will remain in place at the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS) for the length of the shutdown, but most employees will be furloughed.

The first few days of the shutdown likely won’t be very severe. Education programs funded with mandatory spending—including Pell Grants and federal student loans—will continue to operate as normal. And most of the big K-12 programs, namely Title I grants to low-income students and IDEA special education grants to states, have already seen a substantial portion of their funding disbursed. Those and other programs that have already been awarded will be okay in the short term.

Some other programs won’t be so lucky. About 20 Head Start programs, enrolling nearly 19,000 children, have grants that expire on October 1 and won’t receive new funding to continue operating until the shutdown is resolved. Other federal programs, including work-study aid for college students, will also be delayed.

If the shutdown wears on, though, it could start to impact school districts, institutions of higher education, and postsecondary students more severely. Some staffers for the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services will return to the agencies to ensure operations function as normally as possible. But with no funding appropriated yet for fiscal year 2014, school districts and students are sure to pay the cost.

The dispute that led to the first federal shutdown in 17 years centered around the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law passed in 2010 for which some provisions also went into effect on October 1. Some Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives insisted on defunding and/or delaying for one year the law’s implementation, while Democrats in Congress, as well as President Obama, demanded a clean funding bill with no alterations to the healthcare law.

The debate over the Affordable Care Act is masking another divide in Congress that needs to be resolved before an annual appropriations bill is finalized, though: how and whether to fund domestic programs within a shrunken budget.

The 2011 Budget Control Act sets an overall limit on funding for domestic programs, and to avoid finding the required spending cuts in fiscal year 2013, Congress and the president enacted a law in late 2012 to reduce the 2014 levels further. That means this year, lawmakers will have to find another $18 billion in cuts to fiscal year 2014 appropriations to avert mandatory and automatic across-the-board sequesters applied to most federal programs.

But Senate Democrats have said they won’t support a bill within those limits, and House Republicans now have cold feet having realized they’d have to cut a big chunk of domestic funding back to fiscal year 2002 levels. So neither the House nor Senate has voted to approve its own spending bill for the Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education. Assuming lawmakers don’t manage to find the cuts themselves, many federal programs, including most education ones, will be sequestered again. The continuing resolutions debated over the past week have appropriated well above the 2014 rate, at prior-year levels. That means lawmakers have likely set up federal programs for another round of blunt cuts down the line.

All in all, the shutdown leaves policymakers in D.C. and recipients of federal dollars around the country with a great deal of uncertainty. Congress could choose to end this shutdown quickly, before many serious side-effects occur. Or the shutdown could drag on, with neither side willing to cave. There could even be a short-term temporary funding bill—as short as one week, some lawmakers have argued—that would precipitate another round of the same debates almost immediately.

Finally, in just a few weeks, on October 17, the U.S. is projected to reach the nation’s debt ceiling. A bill to raise the debt ceiling could be seen as a prime legislative vehicle to pass a 2014 spending bill – but some members of Congress are considering yet another showdown when the debt ceiling debate rolls around.

Check back with Ed Money Watch over the coming weeks for more details, and for information on the 2013 and 2014 appropriations process, we’ve got the details in our April 2013 issue brief, Federal Education Budget Update: Fiscal Year 2013 Recap and Fiscal Year 2014 Early Analysis.

Head Start to Harvard: A New America Story

September 30, 2013
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As federal agencies prepare for a possible government shutdown at midnight tonight, it’s unclear if members of Congress have given much thought to the implications of pulling the plug on virtually all federal programs. In fact, over the past several years and in the midst of continual budget debates – over spending and deficits and debts and across-the-board cuts – this isn’t the first time lawmakers have lost sight of the people behind the programs they fund.

Last week, the New America Foundation’s Media Relations Associate, Jenny Lu Mallamo, brought the debate back down to earth with a reminiscence of her time in a Lincoln, Nebraska Head Start program more than 20 years ago. Her parents, Chinese immigrants who didn’t speak English as their primary language, relied on the in-school and at-home services that Head Start provided the family to help Jenny catch up to her preschool-aged peers. Jenny writes,

On the Weekly Wonk: Reflecting Back on My Head Start

September 26, 2013

Editor's note: This essay by New America's Media Relations Associate, Jenny Lu Mallamo, originally appeared on our new digital magazine, the Weekly Wonk. A new edition of the Weekly Wonk comes out every Thursday.

"Did anyone here go to Head Start?”

It was an innocuous question, asked by my statistics professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.  It might have been a rhetorical question, too, as the professor didn’t seem to expect anyone to speak up.

But I did, providing an empirical data point in our graduate seminar that was looking at the correlation between Head Start participation and academic success later in life – an academic discussion for everyone in the room but a personal one for me.

In 1990 and 1991, I attended a Head Start program in Lincoln, Nebraska, that offered classroom learning as well as home visits.  As a little girl of four, I thought that “Head Start” was the name of my pre-school. It was only later that I learned Head Start was a federal program that specifically prepares children from low-income families for school.

New School District-Level Pre-K Data Reflect Drop in State Spending

September 24, 2013
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This post also appeared on our sister blog, Ed Money Watch.

In February’s State of the Union address, President Obama outlined a new proposal to expand state pre-K programs to all low- and moderate-income children across the country. The federal funds would require state matching funds, and the state and federal dollars would both be allocated to school districts to expand access to pre-K for eligible children.

In many states, though, it’s impossible even to know the answers to basic questions about pre-K. Because pre-K is often not tracked, or not tracked at the school district level, most principals can’t say how many of their incoming kindergartners attended pre-K, and many policymakers don’t know how many children in their state have access to early education.

New data released in a joint effort by the Federal Education Budget Project (FEBP) and the Early Education Initiative, both of the New America Foundation, begin to answer some of these questions. Released for the first time last fall, FEBP and Early Education Initiative staff collect and analyze state- and school district-level pre-K funding and enrollment data where available. The latest update includes information from the 2012 school year, as well as data for earlier years that states had not previously made available. Check out your state or school district in our Funding Per Child widget below:

New School District-Level Pre-K Data Reflect Drop in State Spending

September 24, 2013
Publication Image

This post also appeared on our sister blog, Early Ed Watch.

In February’s State of the Union address, President Obama outlined a new proposal to expand state pre-K programs to all low- and moderate-income children across the country. The federal funds would require state matching funds, and the state and federal dollars would both be allocated to school districts to expand access to pre-K for eligible children.

In many states, though, it’s impossible even to know the answers to basic questions about pre-K. Because pre-K is often not tracked, or not tracked at the school district level, most principals can’t say how many of their incoming kindergartners attended pre-K, and many policymakers don’t know how many children in their state have access to early education.

New data released in a joint effort by the Federal Education Budget Project (FEBP) and the Early Education Initiative, both of the New America Foundation, begin to answer some of these questions. Released for the first time last fall, FEBP and Early Education Initiative staff collect and analyze state- and school district-level pre-K funding and enrollment data where available. The latest update includes information from the 2012 school year, as well as data for earlier years that states had not previously made available. Check out your state or school district in our Funding Per Child widget below:

The data offer an on-the-ground look at national early education funding trends. The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), from which FEBP compiles its state-level pre-K data, found that 2012 was the first year in a decade in which state pre-K funding fell over the prior year. We looked more deeply into those figures and found that the cuts were far from across the board.

In Texas, for example, state pre-K funding fell from $844 million in 2011 to $727 million last year. But while funding decreased substantially in some districts, it actually increased in others. Houston pre-K funding fell from more than $61 million to nearly $53 million  over the same one-year span, leading to nearly 400 fewer children in enrolled in pre-K. Meanwhile Denton School District saw increased spending of more than $700,000 and 100 more children enrolled. Even San Antonio, the city whose mayor launched the Pre-K 4 SA initiative to raise the sales tax and fund pre-K, lost $1.2 million in state funding and more than 200 state pre-K slots (though keep in mind that our figures include only state dollars, so pre-K slots funded by the sales tax increase are not reflected in these data).

FEBP is the only source of this critical information across the country and at the school district level. The FEBP website displays the information over the past five years, where available. These landmark pre-K data were first released last fall, and this year’s update includes additional information for the 2012 school year, as well as updated information for states that had not previously provided data. New America maintains the most comprehensive education funding database in the country, with information on funding, demographics, and outcomes for every state, school district, and institution of higher education in the nation.

It is important to note that some states collect data in a way that is notably different from others; the specific caveats for these states may be found on our pre-kindergarten data background page. Some states do not offer state-funded pre-K programs or did not provide the data. Pre-K programs funded through community-based organizations unaffiliated with school districts are not included in the data. For the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years, FEBP was able to collect state pre-K enrollment data for 26 states and funding data for 16 states. FEBP also shows data for Head Start programs run by 186 school districts around the country.

To view the pre-K data for your state or school district, visit febp.newamerica.net and use the PreK-12 search box. Researchers may also download national, state, and district raw data files on the FEBP website.

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