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Council of Chief State School Officers

In late 1999, philanthropist Susie Buffett wanted to make the smartest possible investment to improve public education in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. She and her then-foundation president, Dan Pedersen, spoke with Superintendent John Mackiel regarding how he would choose to use private funds to enhance opportunities for Omaha's 46,000 students, including children speaking more than 60 languages and large numbers from economically stressed homes. While many aspects of his school district needed additional resources, Superintendent Mackiel gave top priority to investing in the first five years of life and learning. Today, about 300 parents begin each morning with infants and toddlers in tow, or with excited four-year olds running ahead, by entering one of two Educare schools in Omaha, brightly-colored, specially designed buildings housing a comprehensive birth-to-age five early childhood program. Located adjacent to Kellom Elementary School and Indian Hill Elementary School in two of the city's poorest neighborhoods, the Educare schools are modeled on the first one on Chicago's south side. This original flagship school was constructed with support from business leader Irving Harris and informed by a research-based program model designed by Chicago's Ounce of Prevention Fund, a longstanding leader in early childhood advocacy and program development. These and all other Educare schools across America are public-private partnerships in which funding and governance includes the local schools, Head Start and Early Head Start, child care, philanthropy, and other community and private sector leaders. This issue brief, written for education and state policy leaders, provides a detailed description of the opening chapter in the Educare story, including: (1) a portrait of the Educare strategy: state-of-the-art facilities, a research-based birth-to-age five program model, a unique public-private/early childhood-public education partnership, and a platform for policy and systems change; (2) a summary of recently completed early evaluation data on the impact of Educare on children in the first five operating Educare schools: Chicago, Omaha, Milwaukee, Tulsa, and Denver; and (3) implications of the Educare model for public education and early childhood policy.

Descriptors: Superintendents, Private Sector, Program Development, Neighborhoods, Public Education, Private Financial Support, Preschool Children, Disadvantaged Youth, State Policy, Early Childhood Education, Child Care, Federal Programs, Achievement Gap, Child Development, Parent Participation, Teacher Effectiveness, Teacher Salaries, Evidence, Program Implementation, Partnerships in Education, Educational Change

Council of Chief State School Officers. One Massachusetts Avenue NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20001. Tel: 202-336-7016; Fax: 202-408-8072; e-mail: pubs[at]; Web site:

Autor: Miller, Susan


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