Volume 10, Issue 12

April 18, 2011

Hot Topics

Much more will be known about the effects of the recession on state-funded preschool next Tuesday, April 26th when NIEER co-director Steve Barnett releases the findings from The State of Preschool 2010 at the Oyster-Adams Bilingual School in Washington, D.C. Analyzing the latest data, the yearbook team identified key trends educators and policymakers at state, federal and local levels would do well to take seriously, says Barnett. Joining him at the press conference will be Marci Young of Pre-K Now and a special guest who will discuss the findings as they relate to the Obama administration's early education agenda.
The unmistakable thwack of budget axes pervading Washington, D.C. in recent weeks left early care and education in a slightly sweeter place than it had been before – even though advocates didn't get nearly what they wanted. Most significant in the FY 2011 budget deal, from a policy perspective, is a provision enabling a portion of the $700 million allocated to Race to the Top competitive education grants to go to states who apply for the purpose of improving their early care and education systems. The appropriation deal also includes $340 million in new money for Head Start and Early Head Start and a $100 million raise for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
Sara Garland at Hechinger Report writes that between 2002 and 2010 the number of children enrolled in District of Columbia charter preschools and prekindergarten jumped tenfold, from 430 to 4,346. One driver of the movement: the per-pupil allotment for preschool is nearly $12,000 and $11,600 for prekindergarten. Some, including Erikson Institute president Samuel Meisels worry that charter preschools run the risk of driving an undue emphasis on academics down to the preschool level. The District's population of charter preschoolers is counted for the first time in NIEER's The State of Preschool 2010 yearbook to be released next Tuesday.
The Fresno Bee reports that the First 5 commissions in California's Fresno, Madera and Merced counties are suing to stop Governor Jerry Brown from taking $1 billion from the statewide First 5 Fund that supports early childhood programs to fill the state’s budget hole. They contend only voters have the authority to approve a state takeover since the funds were created by Proposition 10 approved by voters in 1998, comparing them to trust funds for kids. Celebrity Rob Reiner, who led the Proposition 10 campaign, issued a statement supporting the Governor. Other county First 5 commissions are expected to join the suit.
The Hartford Courant reports that the co-chairmen of the legislature's education committee have put forth a bill that would require the poorest school districts and suburban schools with low-income children to provide preschool and full-day kindergarten by the 2013-14 school year. It also advances the kindergarten eligibility age, requiring kids be 5 by Oct. 1 rather than Jan. 1 under current law. While the bill which carries a $78 million price tag is expected to encounter resistance from budget-minded legislators, co-sponsor Andrew Fleischmann, West Hartford, points out that Governor Dannel P. Malloy, who brought universal preschool to Stamford as mayor, is a proponent of pre-K.
The PBS NewsHour is launching a six-part series of special reports on autism, beginning today. Former anchor Robert MacNeil, whose 6-year-old grandson has autism, criss-crossed the country for five months to develop the series which explores the latest scientific and medical thinking on autism and chronicles its impact on families, educators and clinicians.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

PNC Grow Up Great, the 10-year $100 million school readiness program launched in 2004 marked its seventh anniversary last week by announcing a new $12 million financial education initiative. It features a new multimedia education kit created by Sesame Workshop, a parent/caregiver guide, and activity book. PNC produced 1 million kits that will be distributed for free. The kits are available at PNC branches and online at pncgrowupgreat.com or sesamestreet.org/save. An educator's guide and additional materials are also available. The initiative includes $5 million in grants for non-profits to provide financial education based on the materials Sesame Workshop developed, says Grow Up Great program manager Sally McCrady. She is our guest blogger this week at Preschool Matters … Today!

New on nieer.org

A new teacher policy brief developed jointly by NIEER and the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) begins from the perspective that while preschool teachers play a critical role, there is little agreement about how to codify teacher knowledge and skill. Authors Marcy Whitebook, director of CSCCE at University of California, Berkeley and NIEER research fellow Sharon Ryan, Rutgers University, argue that too much attention has been given to debating baseline qualifications such as AA and BA degrees and not enough focus placed on the precise nature of the education teachers receive en route to their degrees, support for ongoing learning and the effects of the workplace environment on their teaching practice.

Calendar

April 19, 2011

New Brunswick, NJ – The latest in the Foundation for Child Development Lecture Series has been postponed.
May 2, 2011 - May 5, 2011
Greensboro, NC – The National Smart Start Conference is hailed as the nation's largest conference devoted to early education systems and strategies.
May 12, 2011 - May 14, 2011
Wheeling, IL – The Leadership Connections conference is a professional development opportunity designed for teachers, administrators, family child care providers, trainers, and consultants.
May 12, 2011

New Brunwick, NJ – Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, will give the Second Annual Education Justice lecture at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Public Policy and Planning at 3:30 p.m., May 12, 2011.
July 10, 2011 - July 13, 2011
Orlando, FL – The CAYL Institute will hold its third national conference for elementary school principals in Orlando, Florida.

Early Education News Roundup

April 18, 2011
Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN
Law enforcement leaders may soon have to do the job with fewer resources and without proven programs aimed at reducing crime, as Congress and state governments consider major budget cuts. On one hand, significant spending cuts are proposed in federal aid to local law enforcement agencies. On the other hand, cuts to early child care and education could cause hundreds of thousands of at-risk children to lose access to programs that can help prevent young children from turning to crime later in life.
April 13, 2011
Norwich Bulletin, Norwich, CT
The proposal would roll back the fifth-birthday deadline from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1 starting in fall 2015. It requires municipalities to provide preschool for children with birthdays whose enrollment would be delayed a year by the change. It also requires preschool for all 4-year-olds in Connecticut's poorest districts.
April 12, 2011
The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, IA
The long-term costs of cutting Iowa's preschool or other early childhood education programs will far exceed the short-term savings, a group of Iowa law enforcement officials will say today when unveiling a new report on the cuts.
April 11, 2011
The Janesville Gazette, Janesville, WI
According to data just released by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, the share of Latino 4-year-olds attending preschool fell nationwide from 53 percent to 48 percent between 2005 and 2009, a period that included the onset and the immediate aftereffects of the Great Recession.
April 10, 2011
NPR
New Jersey has long been under court order to provide extra funding for schools in low-income districts, and for the past 12 years, that has included full-day preschool. But now, facing dire budget cuts, some legislators are questioning whether the state's education system can afford to boost the school readiness of 3- and 4-year-olds and would rather see the money spent on middle- and upper-income schools.
April 8, 2011
WZVN TV, Fort Myers, FL
The Senate on Wednesday had agreed to restore social studies as core classes and ensure that all prekindergarten through third grade classes are covered by the caps. The House didn't accept those changes. A conference committee will try to resolve the differences.
April 4, 2011
The Houston Chronicle
Proposed cuts to early childhood intervention programs in Texas would jeopardize our children's futures. Whether your child has a disability, developmental delay or is typically developing, the cuts will affect every child.
April 3, 2011
The Washington Post
Between 2002 and 2010, the number of children enrolled in District charter preschools and pre-kindergartens jumped tenfold, from 430 to 4,346. At D.C. public schools, by comparison, more than 5,200 children are enrolled in preschool and pre-kindergarten. (In the District, preschool programs generally enroll 3-year-olds and pre-kindergarten programs enroll 4-year-olds.)
April 1, 2011
The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, IA
Iowa won't legalize online poker this year. The state's preschool program will remain free for all 4-year-olds instead of switching to a voucher system.

Resources

This article by NIEER co-directors Ellen Frede and W. Steven Barnett, appearing in the May/June 2011 issue of Principal magazine provides ten research-based practice-tested steps elementary school principals can take to raise achievement in their schools. They include providing pre-K in elementary schools, revising teacher evaluation and coaching tools, providing dual language classrooms and ensuring diverse classroom composition. The authors point out that high-quality preschool education is a strong predictor of differences in Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores across 65 countries. The most recent PISA report showed U.S. students well down in the pack on math, reading and science.
This report from Advocates for the Children of New Jersey looks at the development and implementation of the state's PreK-3rd Leadership Training Series that provides school leaders with research strategies and techniques to effectively implement high-quality preschool through 3rd grade programs and assists them in evaluation. Among the recommendations is to use New Jersey's preschool success story as the model for improving K-3rd, particularly as regards screening, assessment, coaching, inclusion and the use of classroom instruments.
This report from Early Childhood Australia looks at various aspect of that nation's National Quality Framework, a wide-ranging plan for overhauling the early childhood sector as it begins to implement the reforms over the next two years. Compulsory national standards call for improved staff-to-child ratios and stepped-up teacher education requirements. By January 2014 one half of staff at centers must have or be working toward a "diploma-level" early childhood education qualification. Remaining staff must have or be working toward an early childhood education certificate. Pam Cahir, CEO of ECA writes that reluctance to adopt the reforms has cropped up in some quarters because of increased costs.