Covering Early Education: Where to look for answers
This piece was originally published in January 2008.
From the campaign trails and state house floors to philanthropic boardrooms, the early education movement is gathering unprecedented momentum this year.
Thirty-six states increased funding for pre-K in 2007, up from 34 in 2006 and 30 in 2005. And state-funded pre-kindergarten received additional bipartisan financial and legislative support in FY2008 in the majority of states.
With pre-kindergarten education now considered a critical component of rehabilitating an ailing education system, how can journalists evaluate and compare early childhood programs and policies – perhaps only in their infancy or nonexistent -- in their states?
Two national early childhood organizations, ZERO TO THREE and Pre-K Now, released a joint report in December 2007 that looked at strategies for effectively building systems that provide high-quality programs for infants, toddlers and young children to thrive and succeed.
Funded by a formidable pack of philanthropies, including the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts, "Common Vision, Different Paths" focused on how five states - California, Illinois, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania – are building comprehensive, coordinated systems for children, prenatal to age five.
The report concluded that success in building a prenatal-to-five system, which covers programs serving children from before birth to school age, takes a combination of strong leadership; a clear, long-term vision; effective system building and quality programs; and the alignment and integration of the programs.
Carolyn Cobb, founding executive director,
More at Four Pre-K Program; Office of School Readiness (North Carolina) Cobb has guided North Carolina Governor's More at Four Pre-K Program from a pilot to a statewide program. She has over 30 years of experience in education, with experience in educational reform, school improvement, and best-practices research and evaluation.
Contact: 919.785.0717; email@example.com
Libby Doggett, executive director, Pre-K Now
Pre-K Now collaborates with advocates and policymakers to lead a national movement for high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds. Previously, Doggett worked for the National Head Start Association, where she directed the HeadsUp! Reading program, and the U.S. Department of Education, where she served as special assistant to the director of special education and as executive director of the Federal Interagency Coordinating Council.
Contact: 202.862.9865; firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Kirwan, Ounce of Prevention Fund (Illinois)
Kirwan provides strategic direction and leadership to the Ounce of Prevention Fund’s policy work outside of
Contact: 312.922.3863; email@example.com
Matthew Melmed, executive director, ZERO TO THREE
ZERO TO THREE is an organization that informs, trains and supports professionals, policymakers and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers. Prior to joining ZERO TO THREE, Melmed served for 13 years as executive director of the Connecticut Association for Human Services.
Contact: 202.638.1144; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sherry Novick, executive director, First 5 Association of California
The First 5 Association of California works to improve the lives of
Contact: 510.526.9999, Ext. 11; email@example.com
Ramona Paul, assistant state superintendent for professional services, Oklahoma State Dept of Education
Dan Pedersen, president, Buffett Early Childhood Fund
The Buffett Early Childhood Fund invests in young children and their families in Omaha, Nebraska, and across the country, by supporting Educare Centers in the nationwide Bounce Learning Network; through the Birth to Five Policy Alliance; and through the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, the National Forum on Early Childhood Program Evaluation and the work of Nobel Laureate James Heckman
Contact: 402.551.0687; firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Race, spokesperson, Pennsylvania Department of Education
Contact: 717.783.9809; email@example.com
Valisa Smith, senior program officer, Gates Foundation
The Gates Foundation works with public and private partners to provide high quality early learning opportunities, like Thrive by Five: The Washington Early Learning Fund, which supports all children and their caregivers in
Contact: 206.709.3232; firstname.lastname@example.org
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