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Does Preschool Pay Off? Tulsa Program Demonstrates Success

KQED News Mind/Shift – Claudio Sanchez

“In 2001, not long after Oklahoma had adopted one of the nation’s first universal pre-K programs, researchers from Georgetown University began tracking kids who came out of the program in Tulsa, documenting their academic progress over time. In 2001, not long after Oklahoma had adopted one of the nation’s first universal pre-K programs, researchers from Georgetown University began tracking kids who came out of the program in Tulsa, documenting their academic progress over time. In a new report published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management today, researchers were able to show that Tulsa’s pre-K program has significant, positive effects on students’ outcomes and well-being through middle school.”(more)

5 States in Crisis: Budget Battles, Court Challenges, Political Bickering Leave Schools Millions Short

The 74 Million – Carolyn Phenicie

“Chicago Schools are laying off 1,000 staff members. In Kansas, schools closed their doors early. And the situation in Oklahoma schools is truly grim. In Oklahoma City Schools, leaders first cut 208 teaching positions, then 92 members of the administrative staff. Fine arts budgets will be cut in half for the upcoming school year, and there will be no money for new library materials. Oklahoma’s Newcastle Public Schools will start charging $100 per student for extracurricular activities — and that’s after district officials have already eliminated most field trips, increased class sizes, delayed a major textbook purchase and moved to a four-day school week. Celebrity talk show host Ellen DeGeneres helped one elementary school librarian in the state’s Union Public School District pay for a summer reading program. Leaders in Tulsa are filling budget holes with a community fundraiser, forebodingly called “SOS” — Save our Schools.”(more)

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole: Early childhood education crucial to building America’s future

The Oklahoman – U.S. Rep. Tom Cole

“Childhood is a precious gift. It’s a time of constant growth, and every child’s potential is limitless. Unfortunately, there are many children in underserved communities across the country, where they face an increased risk of that potential being cut short by limited opportunities. Early childhood education is essential for success later in life, and every state needs solid resources to reinforce the benefits of schooling. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Save the Children Action Network’s President Mark Shriver and was reminded of just how important the collaboration between public, private, federal and local entities is when advocating for our most vulnerable youth.”(more)

Why Oklahoma’s public preschools are some of the best in the country

The Hechinger Report – LILLIAN MONGEAU

“Oklahoma has fully funded 4-year-old preschool for every child, regardless of family income, since 1998. As long as a child is 4-years-old by Sept. 1, he or she is qualified to attend school. Seventy-six percent of the state’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in 2014, a total of 40,823 children and one of the highest enrollment percentages in the country, according to the latest annual State of Preschool report by the National Institute for Early Education Research…third grade reading scores for children who attended the program after 2006 have risen. Phillips and her colleagues found that preschool grads’ attentiveness in class had increased and timidity had decreased by a significant amount. And economists, led by Timothy J. Bartik of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, a think tank, have even predicted Tulsa preschool grads will earn higher salaries based on their elementary school test scores, which have previously been linked to earnings.”(more)

More women are urged to follow entrepreneurial path via STEM education

News Oklahoma – Scott Meacham

“Last week I wrote about girls and women pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Today, I turn my attention to women with STEM education becoming entrepreneurs. While the number of women pursuing STEM degrees in college is alarmingly low, those who then go on to become entrepreneurs can be counted on one hand — at least in Oklahoma. Kelly Tran is one of the few women who decided to turn her STEM degree in computer science into a career as an entrepreneur in Oklahoma. Her latest venture, Appable, is a company Kelly founded to be an application development company. It didn’t take her long to expand her vision. Today, Appable’s business model includes plug-and-play development services, spinout technologies and the Startup Factory, a for-profit business accelerator.”(more)

Play Hard, Live Free: Where Wild Play Still Rules

NPR – Eric Westervelt

“There are only a handful of these “wild playgrounds” in the country. They embrace the theory that free, unstructured play is vital for children and offer an antidote to the hurried lifestyles, digital distractions and overprotective parents that can leave children few opportunities to really cut loose. “It’s really central that kids are able to take their natural and intense play impulses and act on them,” says Stuart Brown, a psychologist and the founding director of the National Institute for Play. Children need an environment with “the opportunity to engage in open, free play where they’re allowed to self-organize,” he adds. “It’s really a central part of being human and developing into competent adulthood.” Brown says this kind of free-range fun is not just good; it’s essential. Wild play helps shape who we become, he says, and it should be embraced, not feared. Some educators advocate “dangerous play,” which they say helps kids become better problem solvers.”(more)