Volume 10, Issue 17

May 25, 2011

Hot Topics

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a new $500 million grant competition for states to create comprehensive plans for developing better-integrated early learning systems that make better use of federal, state, and local resources as well as raise quality and access. Long sought by early childhood policy experts, the fund will be jointly administered by the education department and HHS. In addition, an extra $200 million will be awarded in FY 2011 to some or all of nine states that were finalists in the most recent round of Race to the Top competition but were not funded. Duncan said many of those states had excellent early education plans and he is anxious to fund them but that the states will have to demonstrate progress on those plans. Details for that process are yet to come. The new fund is the subject of the latest Preschool Matters … Today! blog post.
In a 3-2 ruling, the New Jersey Supreme Court said the state reneged on its promise to fully fund its education system. Doing so in the 31 poorest school districts, known as Abbott districts, resulted in a "substantial and consequential blow to the achievement of a thorough and efficient system of education" and the court said $500 million in additional investment will be needed for those districts to address the problem. Governor Chris Christie said he will comply with the decision but said figuring out how to come up with the extra money is the responsibility of the Legislature. In 2009, New Jersey adopted a new school funding formula that moved away from the system in which the Abbott districts were granted extra funding but the state has imposed across-the-board cuts to education the past two years.
Preliminary data for the January-March quarter of 2011 show strong growth in overall state tax collections as well as for personal income tax and sales tax revenue, says the Rockefeller Institute of Government. Collections for 47 early reporting states increased an average 9.1 percent compared to the same quarter of 2010, representing the third consecutive quarter of increases. Even so, tax revenue was 3.1 percent lower in early 2011 than in the same period three years ago. Personal income tax revenues increased by 12.4 percent for the nation compared to the same quarter of 2011, corporate income tax increased by 6.9 percent and sales tax showed a 5.6 percent growth. The growth in personal income tax, as well as overall tax collections, is the strongest since mid-2006.

Calendar

June 14, 2011 - June 16, 2011
New York, NY – The theme for this year's event is Infants, Toddlers, Families: Supporting Their Growth.
July 6, 2011 - July 8, 2011
Denver, CO – The theme of this year's Education Commission of the States summer Forum is "Boosting College Completion for a New Workforce."
July 10, 2011 - July 13, 2011
Orlando, FL – The CAYL Institute will hold its third national conference for elementary school principals in Orlando, Florida.
November 18, 2011 - November 19, 2011
Melbourne, Australia – The theme for this conference is "Honoring the Child, Honoring Equity 11: Inspiring change(s): insights, challenges, hopes and actions."

Early Education News Roundup

May 25, 2011
Daily News-Miner, Fairbanks, AK
A small battle developed this winter atop questions of state support for early childhood education. The argument is likely to reappear in Juneau, if not next year than sometime in the near future. The state is entering the third and, perhaps, final year of a test run with state supported pre-kindergarten.
May 24, 2011
The Detroit News
Too many young children in Michigan aren't getting the foundation of learning they need before starting school that would allow them to succeed once their K-12 education begins. Gov. Rick Snyder is on the right track with his proposals for early education, which highlight the importance of lifelong learning.
May 23, 2011
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Though Head Start is best known as a federally funded child-care program for the poor, changes are afoot that worry some early-childhood advocates. In 1998, Congress passed a law that opened the door to for-profit operators; other changes last year could attract even more companies.
May 22, 2011
The Indianapolis Star
Gov. Mitch Daniels addressed one of his earliest campaign promises this year: state funding for universal full-day kindergarten. Now, Indiana needs to jump-start a debate on learning at even earlier ages.
May 20, 2011
The News Journal, Wilmington, DE
Legislative budget-writers Thursday accepted Gov. Jack Markell's $22 million plan to shore up early childhood education services in a session that saw several million more earmarked for public schools and state colleges and universities. The outlay would ensure that early childhood programs receive at least 65 percent of market-rate payments when serving needy children and those with disabilities from birth through age 5.

Resources

The United Way and the American Human Development Project have created a tool to forecast how the outlook changes when educational outcomes are better. Users can enter their states and counties to see what factors such as high school and college completion can do to improve such areas as health, finance and community involvement.