Dr. W. Steven Barnett is a Board of Governors Professor and Senior Co-Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. His research includes studies of the economics of early care and education including costs and benefits, the long-term effects of preschool programs on children’s learning and development, and the distribution of educational opportunities. Steve earned his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Michigan. He has authored or co-authored more than 200 publications. Research interests include the economics of human development and practical policies for translating research findings into effective public investments. His best known works include: reviews of the research on long-term effects; benefit-cost analyses of the Perry Preschool and Abecedarian programs; randomized trials comparing alternative approaches to educating children including length of day, monolingual versus dual-language immersion, the Tools of the Mind curriculum; and the series of State of Preschool yearbooks providing annual state-by-state analyses of progress in public pre-K.

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Fueled by his passion for economics and the works of Urie Bronfenbrenner and Don Campbell, Steve’s approach to early education is inspired by the intersection of economics, policy, education, psychology, and program management. Steve explains how investing in public early education lays the foundation for the future of children.  Over the past few decades, although the education of parents, especially parents of low-income children has improved, Steve emphasizes how little change has been made to access and the implementation of high-quality preschool. As a result, he urges policymakers to set high standards and incorporate high expectations to improve the state of early education. Steve shares how lessons from Perry Preschool and Abecedarian and shares his experience as a leader in the field.

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“What we need to have is data collection embedded in the everyday activities of teachers and leaders in preschools and schools that is constantly used to improve my practice.”

“I think one of the forgotten the lessons from the past is that implementation dominates design.”

“If the United States is to be on par with leading European and Asian countries in the provision of early care and education, we’re going to have to change our mindset and we’re going to have to think about high-quality early childhood education as a fundamental right of the child.”

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