National News

The 'State of Preschool' really depends on your state

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-05-11 08:15

Providing all kids in the U.S. with high-quality, publicly-funded preschool would take a concentrated overhaul to strengthen and build up existing state programs.

At the current progress rate, preschool for all children would take 300 years to achieve, according to Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, which issued the State of Preschool 2014 report Monday.

The 2013-14 school year saw state funding for pre-K increase by more than $116 million nationwide, or 1 percent, adjusted for inflation. About half of that spending was in just one state — Michigan.

Barnett says since spending varies widely state to state, the country is still struggling to make gains in enrollment, funding and quality; ten states don't provide state-funded pre-K programs at all.

"When the average doesn't budge, but some places are moving rapidly ahead, that just tells you other places are dropping behind,” he says.

In five states in 2013-14, state funding per child for pre-K fell by 10 percent or more from the previous year, while in five different states, per-child spending increased by the same margin.

NIEERBarnett says the country spends about $1,000 less per pupil — adjusted for inflation — on pre-K now than a decade ago.

“Preschools are turning the corner, but they are turning so slowly," he says. "If we moved at the same rate as last year it would be 75 years before we enrolled half of the kids."

That's no exaggeration. From 2006 to 2010, enrollment increased every year at a steady pace. Barnett says that rate would have put half of the kids in the country in preschool in just 10 years. But from 2010 to 2014, there was effectively no progress made.

The report also reveals stark regional differences, with more students served in the east and south, compared to the west.

"It matters tremendously where you live," Barnett says. "Last time we measured quality, we saw the same disparities. There's no sense of urgency in many states."

He says more than half a million children — 40 percent of nationwide enrollment — were in programs that met less than half of the NIEER quality standards benchmarks.

"The vast majority of children served in state-funded pre-K are in programs where funding per child may be inadequate to provide a quality education."
—State of Preschool 2014

Barnett says investing in preschool yields a high return, but only if states also invest in high-quality education standards.

2 Inmates Are Dead After Riot At Nebraska Prison

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-11 07:13

It took authorities hours to control a riot at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, where inmates started fires and destroyed properties.

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Report: Statistics Show That Baltimore Police Seem To Ignore Injuries

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-11 06:10

Records analyzed by The Baltimore Sun show that thousands of detainees were rejected by Central Booking because of injuries.

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The End Of 'American Idol'

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-11 05:53

Fox announced today that the 15th season of American Idol will be the end of the road for what was once the biggest show on TV.

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The Best Commencement Speeches, Ever

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-11 05:03

The month of May brings flowers, Mother's Day and graduations. Bring on those commencement speeches.

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Saudi King Won't Attend Camp David Summit

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-11 04:19

A statement by the Saudi foreign minister cited conflicts. The king of Bahrain also said he would not be attending the summit on Thursday.

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Nasdaq experiments with the Bitcoin blockchain

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-05-11 03:00

Nasdaq announced on Monday that it's launching an "enterprise-wide initiative" to use the blockchain—the distributed ledger that makes Bitcoin possible.

The first application will be as a service for privately-held companies to allow their shareholders to buy and sell shares on a system based on the blockchain. Instead of the transactions being recorded in the separate ledgers of various lawyers, Nasdaq CIO Brad Peterson says transactions will be recorded in a form that anyone in the market can see. 

"The best argument against using the Bitcoin blockchain is that it's new," says Jim Harper, senior fellow at the Cato Institute. "It's only been around for a few years and hasn't had the real testing that it probably needs." 

Harper says the Nasdaq experiment could be just such a test.

PODCAST: The solution is border collies

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-05-11 03:00

We look at what happened with German bonds; calm today after a wild ride last week. Plus, we examine the effect Fox's hit show "Empire" has had on the TV advertising game by cutting the amount of commercial time it sets aside per episode. And government contractors come in all shapes, as evidenced by a new effort from the National Park Service to hire border collies to chase geese off the National Mall. 

Storms Leave 2 Dead In Arkansas, More Than 20 Injured In Texas

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-11 02:46

The small town of Van, Texas, was badly hit and two people died in Nashville, Arkansas, after a tornado raked through a mobile home park.

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