Volume 10, Issue 18

June 9, 2011

Hot Topics

Education Week reports that a new analysis of high school completion finds that the national graduation rate for the class of 2008 is 71.7 percent, representing a significant increase over the two previous years. Higher rates were seen across demographic groups — but those for African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans continue to trail those of whites and Asian-Americans. There were wide variations among states as well as suburban and urban communities. The report pegs the number of students who will not graduate from high school this year at 1.2 million.
When Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the state's new budget that included a seven percent cut to the state's already underfunded pre-K program, he may not have figured he'd have to deal with the likes of David Lawrence Jr., the president and co-chair of The Children's Movement of Florida. No stranger to the communications business, Lawrence, former publisher of The Miami Herald, wrote a stinging rebuke of the governor that ran in the op-ed pages of a number of the state's newspapers and took the form of an open letter to Gov. Scott that took him to task and questioned his commitment to education.
The New York Times reports that Jerry Weast, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, will not accept the $12 million in Race to the Top money for which his schools qualify because the grant would require him to include students' state test scores as a measure of teacher quality. Instead, Weast, who says he doesn't believe the tests are a reliable measure, has instituted an evaluation system using panels of senior teachers and mentors that has successfully eliminated hundreds of sub-par teachers.
Those watching PBS Newshour on Friday may have seen Paul Solman having a conversation with Grover about delaying gratification in order to save money. The segment was part of a feature on Sesame Workshop's initiative to teach financial literacy and it include some stunning figures, including the fact that over half of Americans in a survey didn't know how much money they would have after earning two percent interest on $100 for five years. Solman interviewed Dan Ariely and Terrie Moffitt, Duke University, and Jeanette Betancourt of Sesame Workshop for the segment.
This week, The Hechinger Report's Sarah Garland looks in on the progress of the Pre-K – 3 movement in a well-resourced article that reflects the effects of the recession that has slowed its progress and presents the views of a number of leading experts, including Robert Pianta, University of Virginia, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, Arthur Reynolds, University of Wisconsin, Kristi Kauerz, Harvard University, and Ron Haskins at Brookings.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

In this post, Jen Fitzgerald and Megan Carolan take a closer look at the "bottom 10" – states that don't fund pre-K programs meeting NIEER's definition of a state program.

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

June 8, 2011
Knoxville News Sentinel
The final report in a lengthy study on the impact of pre-kindergarten classes on students in Tennessee states that the program not only should be continued for at-risk children, but "should be complemented with additional support and intervention for students over time." But state Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, issued a news release Tuesday declaring that the report shows pre-K efforts are "gobbling up and wasting valuable resources" that would be better spent on other educational endeavors.
June 6, 2011
The Age, Melbourne, Australia
A free kindergarten program for Aboriginal and abused children is failing to reach its target, with more than three-quarters of allocated places unfilled. Chief executive of Kindergarten Parents Victoria, Emma King, says many vulnerable families are highly transient or living in crisis accommodation, which made it difficult to commit to pre-school, especially at stand-alone kindergartens offering short, sessional programs.
June 3, 2011
The Tennessean
Imagine a government program that guaranteed a $7 return on every dollar spent, led to more children graduating from high school and fewer being incarcerated as adults, and earned strong support from the business community because of the direct results it has on workforce development. Thankfully, one exists: Tennessee's high-quality voluntary pre-kindergarten program.
June 2, 2011
Great Falls Tribune, Great Falls, MT
The prospects for American business, its financial markets and citizens depend upon our ability to compete and succeed globally. Davidson is among many U.S. companies that believe investments in early education must be a priority at the local, regional, and national level. The reason is simple: Early childhood learning helps set the course for a lifetime of achievement.
June 2, 2011
Crain's Detroit Business, Detroit, MI
Geoffrey Canada's prescription for educational reform is radical: Start early, with comprehensive intervention, and don't let up. The business community should invest in education, Canada said, because without an educated workforce — and a population with the disposable income to buy the products businesses sell — business has no future.
June 1, 2011
Appleton Post Crescent, Appleton, WI
The numbers are hard to dispute: Kids who attend organized but relatively inexpensive preschool programs are more likely to graduate from high school, to earn more as adults, to stay off welfare and to avoid spending time in jail. All of that accrues huge dividends for society, with long-term economic paybacks for early childhood education pegged at a minimum of $7 for every $1 spent.
May 31, 2011
The Wall Street Journal
The inability of adults to remember the earliest years of childhood—also known as infantile amnesia—has been the subject of speculation for more than a century. Modern researchers think that storing and retrieving memories require language skills that don't develop until age 3 or 4.
May 31, 2011
The Mercury News, San Jose, CA
Preschool reduces long-term costs for remedial help, public assistance and incarceration. It's the very definition of a smart investment.
May 29, 2011
The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, IN
In 2010 only 43 percent of local preschool-aged children entered kindergarten ready to learn to read. While that number may be up from 35 percent in 2001, Madison County CAPE Initiative officials say drastic improvement is still needed.

Resources

This paper focuses on the Appleton Area School District (AASD) in Appleton, Wisconsin. The district has demonstrated that Title I can be an important part of a comprehensive birth to age 5 program in a community. Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, also known as No Child Left Behind or NCLB) funds long have been used to provide preschool services for at-risk children.
This working paper from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University discusses executive function, a critical group of skills that begin developing during early childhood. Comparing them to an air traffic control system, the authors say these skills give a person the capacity to process multiple streams of information simultaneously, make decisions and solve problems, and adjust actions as needed given a situation. It describes how executive function skills develop, what may adversely affect their development, and what their long-term impacts are on school success and beyond.
This report from the National Center for Children in Poverty summarizes what is currently known about family, friend and neighbor (FFN) care based on a review of 27 research studies. The studies range in scope from focus group interviews to national survey analysis. Key findings address caregiver characteristics, quality in FFN care, parental satisfaction, parent-provider relationships, and child developmental outcomes.