[RFHF] In the News: Oregon & preschool; early childhood & the economy

Katie Anderson katie.anderson at state.or.us
Wed Sep 21 09:21:55 PDT 2011

Hi!  This morning I read to good articles about early childhood education and preschool that I thought you would enjoy and be able to take away some valuable info.

In local news, the StatesmanJournal.com reports on Bridging the Gap Between Preschool and Kindergarten: Classes Start with Higher Expectations<http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20110921/NEWS/109210407/-1/7daysarchives/Bridging-gap-between-preschool-kindergarten>.  Things to keep in mind during this topsy-turvey change in how Oregon does early childhood:

  *   it's not always clear what quality [preschool] means or how to track results in Oregon.
  *   Preschools don't necessarily work with nearby school districts to make sure students are learning what they need to know for kindergarten.
  *   Preschool currently falls under Oregon Employment Department's Child Care Division and not the Oregon Department of Education, except for Head Start.
  *   parents have little help in finding a quality education program
  *   This year the Legislature approved Kitzhaber's birth-to-20 plan that brings early childhood services, K-12 and post-secondary education all under a new Oregon Education Investment Board. The goal is to create an efficient and accountable system.
  *   In the future Oregon will likely adopt a kindergarten readiness assessment and early learning benchmarks and require providers to hit certain goals to renew their contracts. Those will be some of the proposals before the 2012 Legislature.
  *   One innovative program that promotes quality preschool is Pennsylvania's Keystone Starts... The program reviews each provider and gives them anywhere from one to four stars using research-based criteria. Providers can get help to improve their score and parents get a searchable database of providers with three or four stars. Oregon is working on a similar program called Equip.

This morning I discovered a new blog which I haven't examined thoroughly, but the September 16, 2011 post  Top 5 Reasons Why Investing in Early Childhood Education Can Drive Better Job Creation<http://investinginkids.net/2011/09/16/top-5-reasons-why-investing-in-early-childhood-education-can-drive-better-local-job-creation/> caught my eye.  I've been reading about how investing in early childhood is a good economic decision for many years now, but this article mentioned a few things I hadn't thought about before.  Here are the 5 reasons, those in orange were things that caught my eye.  These may be good points to bring up when advocating for your programs.

  1.  Human capital is the key local competitive factor for businesses that is not readily portable. In a global economy, most factors of production are readily transportable, such as capital, energy, information, etc. Labor is not so portable. You can’t just put your business anywhere and expect to get the labor skills you need.
  2.  Human capital matters not just to my individual business, but to building regional clusters of businesses. The importance of a local area’s job skills is not just the workers I recruit for my business, but also the skills of workers working in similar businesses in my local industry cluster, as well as workers in the suppliers that are part of that cluster. Regional clusters of industries, such as in Silicon Valley, steal ideas and workers from one another. Therefore, any individual business’s productivity depends in part of the skills of its local competitors. In addition, the competitiveness of a cluster depends in part on the productivity of local suppliers, which depends on the skills of these suppliers’ workers.
  3.  Early childhood education is one of the most cost-effective methods of developing better local worker skills..
  4.  Early childhood education is particularly good at increasing soft skills, which are of great importance to businesses.
  5.  A large percentage of early childhood education participants will stay in the same local economy as working adults. Over 60% will stay in the same state, and over 50% will stay in the same metropolitan area. This is important because it means that early childhood education can enhance the local area’s workforce quality. Americans are not as hyper-mobile as sometimes supposed. People will stay due to the familiar places and people of their home.  The percentage staying is not much lower in economically distressed areas, as slow growth reduces in-migration more than it increases out-migration.

Katie Anderson, Library Development Services
* Youth Services Consultant * Oregon Center for the Book Coordinator *
Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
katie.anderson at state.or.us<mailto:katie.anderson at state.or.us>, 503-378-2528

If the hyperlinks don't work, try copying and pasting these URLs into your browser or doing a Google search by copying and pasting the titles of the articles into the search box.

  *   http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20110921/NEWS/109210407/-1/7daysarchives/Bridging-gap-between-preschool-kindergarten
  *   http://investinginkids.net/2011/09/16/top-5-reasons-why-investing-in-early-childhood-education-can-drive-better-local-job-creation/
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