October 28, 2016
Credit: Erin Brownfield, EdSource 
and parents believe that kindness
is a key skill to teach children: 78 percent of teachers (pre-K to gra de 6) and 73 percent of parents think "being kind to others" is more important than being academically successful, according to a recent national survey of 2,000 parents and 500 teachers from the Sesame Workshop, the educational nonprofit behind Sesame Street. The majority of parents and teachers worry, though, that "the world is an unkind place" for kids.

You can take the survey yourself, part of Sesame Workshop's "K is for Kind" project, at this link. Click here for suggested resources for teaching kids about kindness and empathy.

The project was inspired by recent news events. In a post about the survey, Sesame Workshop explains (without naming any presidential candidates) that they have "noticed an increasing number of news stories on anger, fear, bullying, and violence, as well as an overall sense of negativity permeating social discourse."

Missing from the discussion about incorporating social-emotional learning into classrooms, they say, is data on how parents and teachers prioritize teaching kindness and empathy. Results from the parent-teacher survey are available here.  

California preschools are mirroring an alarming national trend, suspending or expelling children from preschools far too frequently. This is the judgment of a group of state educators, policymakers and representatives of public agencies, including the California Department of Education, who are working on a proposal that will offer solutions.

Read more.
The U.S. Department of Education issued guidance this week on how the Every Student Succeeds Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in December can be used to support early education. The document describes funding authorized by the law that can be used, among other things, to train preschool teachers; help students learning English make the transition from preschool to kindergarten; and fund preschools based in charter schools. 
Early education has a far more prominent place in the new law than in previous iterations: "Everywhere the feds could weave in a reference to early learning (in the guidance document) they did," said Kendra Rogers, managing director for early childhood policy at  Children Now , an advocacy organization based in Oakland.
Read more. 

Who are America's early childhood educators?

Credit: Sarah Tully, EdSource
Three-quarters of young children in the U.S. are in non-parental care. The people who teach and take care of them are underpaid and often work long hours according to an article from Child Trends, "Five Things to Know About the Early Childhood Workforce."   
  • Only half of early education teachers work in schools or centers: the rest are home-based.
  • Most early childhood educators are experienced in their field: the average caregiver has been in the profession for 10-14 years.
  • The average home-based caregiver works 54 hours a week.
  • The average hourly wage for an early childhood caregiver is $10.60 an hour, though those caring for infants and toddlers make even less.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 preschool teachers and almost half of home-based providers are  enrolled in a public assistance program.
States and the federal Head Start program have increased educational requirements for preschool teachers over the past decade, but the amount spent per child has not gone up. Indeed, both state pre-k spending and federal Head Start spending have declined slightly since the early 2000s, in inflation-adjusted terms -- and teacher salaries have remained similarly flat in most places. Read more here

Appreciating the 'most proven program' in the fight against poverty
Did you know Shaquille O'Neal went to Head Start? So did the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Matthews Burwell. In a Washington Post editorial about Head Start, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) praises the long-running federal program for its five-plus decades of positive impact on disadvantaged young people. She urges Congress to increase funding and provide access to more children. Read more here.

Erin Brownfield, editor