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TO:                                                 Early Childhood Workgroup

FROM:                                         John B. King, Jr.

SUBJECT:                                 Early Childhood Education

DATE:                                          February 2010

STRATEGIC GOAL:             Goal 1




Issue for Discussion

              How do we develop a vision for expanding access to high quality early childhood learning opportunities to provide the academic and social skills foundation students need for success in P-12 education, college and in global economy and society of this 21st century?  As we move forward to meet new federal and state reform initiatives, it will be critical to ensure that the primary components of the early childhood learning system are strengthened, coherent, and comprehensive.

Reason for Consideration

              Follow up to January Board of Regents meeting focused on early education.

Proposed Handling

              This item will come before the Regents Early Childhood Workgroup for discussion at the February 2010 meeting.


              A critical and robust body of scientific research (e.g. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, National Institute for Early Education Research) has led to a researched based understanding of the importance of high quality early care and education.  Research demonstrates that experiences that are “developmentally provocative will change as the brain matures” and interaction with “appropriately responsive social partners is one of most critical factors in the developing brain” (Thompson, R.)  Other areas of research have demonstrated the positive impact of exposure to rich language experiences (Hart, R.) and a preponderance of research shows the negative impact of low levels of reading skills at grade one (Reid, L.)

              Re-visioning the Department’s practices and potential requirements of new federal initiatives will require us to examine our current system delivery to ensure that the “P” component of a P-12 system is designed to produce the results we desire and that our youngest students need.

Background Information

              The New York State Education Department has a long history of supporting early education.  In 1966, New York became one of the first states in the nation to create a prekindergarten component to public education.  Growth in many early childhood initiatives ensued and in 2006 the Board of Regents once again took a strong leadership role in adopting its comprehensive policy, “Early Education for Student Achievement in a Global Community”.  In this policy, the Board of Regents provided a framework for focusing on the needs of children ages birth to age 3, concretizing prekindergarten and kindergarten, strengthening grades 1 – 4, aligning standards, curriculum and assessment and increasing parental access and integrated early education programs and settings.

              The Department’s current structure and capacity in early childhood has been shaped by multiple Department reorganizations.  In 1980, SED had a fully staffed (approximately 20 persons) Bureau of Child Development and Parent Education, responsible for kindergarten – grade 4.  During the 1990’s, SED reorganized into field and policy teams.  Staff in the Bureau of Child Development and Parent Education were dispersed to various teams.  The early education policy team was Albany-based and was staffed by a minimal number of people from various offices (Special Education, Title 1, Curriculum).  Over time, the policy office was subsumed within the NYC Office of School Improvement and Community Services.  The Office of Early Education shifted to a coordination role of early childhood programs.  These programs included: Targeted Prekindergarten, Even Start, Nursery Schools, Reading for Excellence, Class Size Reduction, Child Abduction and Prevention Education, and after school programs. 

              In 1997-98, the Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) Program was established in statute and subsumed within the early education office.   Subsequently, this office successfully took the lead on the federally funded Reading First and Reading for Excellence Act.  By 2002, the office was responsible for over $500 million of funded programs focused on prekindergarten – grade 3.

              It is important to note that each funded program has its own unique statutory and regulatory framework for program standards and operation.  For example, UPK is driven by Section 3602-e of the Education Law and Part 151-1 of the Regulations of the Commissioner.  Federal programs such as Reading First, Striving Readers, Preschool Special Education have extensive requirements.  The combination of the 2006 policy and program requirements has been the framework for current work.

              The Federal government is placing an emphasis on early education in recognition of the importance of a solid P-12 system.  In addition to the Early Learning Challenge Fund (which focuses on birth through age 5), other potential initiatives may be forthcoming – Striving Readers, Even Start, Promise Neighborhoods, Teacher Quality Partnerships, and ESEA.  Discussion with USDE officials indicates their desire to add an early childhood component to every initiative.  As we move forward on these initiatives, the Department will need to closely examine current capacity, needed policy and resource allocation.


Current Organization of Early Childhood Education in SED

              The Office of Early Childhood Education and Reading Initiatives continues to be placed under the NYC Office of School Improvement and Community Services, although staff are all Albany-based.  The focus continues to be the operation of funded programs in order to meet the statutory and funding requirements.

Funded Programs


2009 - 2010

2010 - 2011

Universal Prekindergarten

4 year olds

$414 million

$399 million

Nursery Schools

3 –  5 year olds

No funding,

but regulatory oversight


Reading First

Grades K – 3

$13.6 million


Striving Readers

Grades 7 – 8



Even Start

Birth – Age 7

$5.5 million

$5.5 million

              In addition to the above funded programs, the Office of Early Childhood Education and Reading Initiatives is responsible for:


  • Development of Prekindergarten Learning Standards
  • Kindergarten – grade 3 program issues
  • Full day kindergarten expansion
  • Coordination in the development of the ELA/ELL Standards
  • Response to Intervention
  • Technology Task Force
  • Governor’s Children’s Cabinet
  • Early Childhood Advisory Council
  • NYS Quality Stars Development
  • Commissioner’s Advisory Panel on Special Education
  • P-16 data initiatives
  • Homeless Advisory Committee
  • NYSUT Early Childhood Committee


              The Office of Early Education and Reading Initiatives is staffed by 1 Coordinator, 2 Supervisors, 6 Associates, 1 Program Assistant and 3 support staff.

              Other areas of early childhood education remain housed in various offices within SED.  Preschool special education remains separate from early education programs.  Cross-cutting areas such as certification, higher education teacher preparation, cultural programs, and public broadcasting are based in respective offices.

              Although this organizational pattern has led to increased funding coming into the Department for early education, it has been driven by segmented funding streams.  A cohesive and comprehensive approach to early childhood education across the Department has not been achieved.  Offices within the Department coordinate well; however, this is primarily achieved via a professional culture rather than an organizational infrastructure.


  • What organizational structure for early education and reading will result in achievement of expand access to high quality early childhood learning opportunities to provide the academic and social skills foundation students need for success in P-12 education, college and in global economy and society of this 21st century? 


  • What capacity will SED need to build to be in a competitive position for Federal funding focused on early education?


Areas for Consideration


  • Does the current policy framework meet the demand of the Department P-12 reform initiatives?


  • Has sufficient emphasis been placed on using early childhood as an effective strategy for closing the achievement gap or as part of a P-12 continuum?


  • What policies are needed to provide for a cohesive and comprehensive service delivery system focused on birth through age 5 that will be addressed in the Early Learning Challenge Fund?


Early Learning Challenge Fund Timeline

              The Federal ability to pass the Early Learning Challenge Fund (ELCF) legislation, will in part determine the timeline for work on this competition.  As we have learned through Race to the Top, our approach and work must be part of our larger strategic goal to expand and improve approaches to early learning.  Attachment A is developed as a starting point for focusing the Department strategic actions.

External Advisors and Partners

              Solidifying the early components of the P-12 reforms must embrace an expansive collaborative and inclusive approach.  The early entry part of the P-12 system is a very diverse and complex component.  As the Department moves forward, it will be important to recognize the numerous partners we already have and the very different approaches to early learning that each player will bring to this initiative.  We will also need to bring in unique partners and new partners to help us improve this system for young children whose families are in poverty and children with limited English proficiency.

              An already established group that will be a required partner upon passage of the ELCF is the Early Learning Advisory Council.  The Council has been formed and members appointed by the Governor.  The group consists of approximately 50 persons representing a large portion of the birth to age 5 system.  (see Attachment B)

              Other partners/advisors that the Department may want to engage are representation from:


  • Groups focused on the needs of ELLs
  • Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus
  • District Superintendents
  • School Boards/Superintendents
  • Teachers/Principals/Administrators
  • Charter Schools
  • Non-Public Schools
  • NYS Prekindergarten Administrators and BOCES/District Superintendents
  • Deans of colleges/education
  • New York State Association of Education of Young Children




                                                                                                                                             ATTACHMENT A





  • Establish Board of Regents Early Childhood Work Group



January 2010


  • Meetings of Board of Regents Early Childhood Work Group
  • Establish internal web-based site
  • Establish conferencing connections for on-going work



February – July 2010


  • Identify External Advisors to the Regents Early Childhood Work Group



February 2010


  • Conduct seven regional meetings in coordination with ECAC to discuss early childhood regional effective practice



March – May 2010



  • Meet with ECAC to coordinate priorities



March 2010















NYS Early Childhood Advisory Council Members
(as of 12/23/09)


Bob Frawley

NYS Council on Children and Families

Karen Schimke

Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy


Ingrid Allard

Albany Medical College

Evelyn Blanck, Co-Chair, Capacity Building

New York Center for Child Development

Phil Cleary

NYS United Teachers

Sherry Cleary, Co-Chair, Early Learning Workforce Development

NYC Early Childhood Professional Development Institute

Pedro Cordero

Council of School Supervisors and Administrators

Rachel de Long

NYS Department of Health – Bureau of child & Adolescent Health

Chris Deyss

Prevent Child Abuse New York

Denise Dowell

CSEA - Early Learning & Care Programs

Recy Dunn, Co-Chair, Quality Improvement

NYC Department of Education - Early Childhood Services

Andre Eaton

Parent Child Home Program

Maggie Evans

Agri-Business Child Development

Dana Friedman

The Early Years Institute

Doris Fromberg

NYS Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators

Cindy Gallagher

NYS Education Department - Elementary, Middle, Secondary and Continuing Education

Denise Harlow, Co-Chair, Capacity Building

NYS Community Action Association

Melanie Hartzog

New York City Administration for Children's Services

Liz Hood

NYS Education Department - Office of Cultural Education

Mark Jasinski, Co-Chair, Finance

NYS Prekindergarten Administrators Association

Jackie Jones

Infant/Toddler Specialist and Early Head Start

Ira Katzenstein

NYS Head Start Association

Kristen Kerr, Co-Chair, Early Learning Workforce Development

NYS Association of Education for Young Children

Debby King

1199 SEIU and NY Union Child Care Coalition

Nancy Kolben, Co-Chair, Finance

CCI - Center for Children's Initiatives

Lee Kreader

National Center for Children in Poverty

Trudy Lackner

NYS Family Child Care Association

Linda Landsman

Rauch Foundation

James Langford

Children’s Aid Society

Patti Lieberman

A.L. Mailman Foundation

Dina Lieser, Co-Chair, Cross-Training Workforce Development

Docs for Tots NY

Karen McGraw

NYS Council of School Superintendents

Jim McGuirk

Astor Services for Children and Families

Mary McHugh, Co-Chair, Cross-Training Workforce Development

NYS Office of Mental Health

Anne Mitchell, Co-Chair, Quality Improvement

Early Childhood Policy and Research

Janice Molnar, Co-Chair, Quality Improvement

NYS Office of Children and Family Services - Division of Child Care Services

Elba Montalvo

Committee for Hispanic Children and Families

Gwen O'Shea

Health and Welfare Council of Long Island

Monique Rabideau

NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

Sandy Rybaltowski

NYS Education Department - Vocational & Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities

Carol Saginaw

Early Care & Learning Council

Maryanne Schretzman

New York City Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services

Mary Shaheen

United Way of NYS

Meredith Wiley

Fight Crime Invest in Kids NY

Patsy Yang

NYS Association of County Health Offices


Mohawk Nation Head Start and Child Care


Seneca Nation Head Start and Child Care


Head Start Parent


Sophia James

NYS Council on Children and Families

Cindy Ness

Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy

Jenn O'Connor

Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy

Susan Perkins

NYS Council on Children and Families

Betsy Swager

NYS Council on Children and Families

Bridget Walsh

Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy


Archived materials include the agenda and associated materials for each meeting, and a detailed summary posted at the conclusion of the meeting.