Volume 10, Issue 21

July 29, 2011

Hot Topics

The latest report based on the Learning Together study out of the University of California, Berkeley includes interviews from pre-K teachers working on bachelor's degrees in cohort programs. Successful graduates discussed the importance of practicum experiences and job support for ongoing professional development. This study highlights issues presented in a NIEER policy brief published earlier this year, which emphasized that the debate over pre-K teacher education has focused far too much in the past on the quantity of that education (i.e., two-year versus four-year degree) rather than the quality and content of their studies.

Another new report from the University of California, Berkeley asks if quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) sufficiently address all the components of quality improvement, specifically pre-K staff education and professional development. As the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge draft guidelines made QRIS a necessary component of applicant states, this is a particularly timely question.
North Carolina's More at Four program remains in limbo. Two state early learning programs, More at Four and Smart Start, had their funding reduced by 20 percent in the state's fiscal year 2011 budget, despite the veto of Governor Perdue. However, Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ruled that parts of the cuts are unconstitutional. Republican legislators insist that the state does not have the funding for the program regardless, leaving parents and children in the dark as to whether they can enroll for September.
A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found a high reduction in the rate of chicken pox-related deaths – 97 percent for children and adolescents under age 20 – since the varicella vaccine was recommended for all children starting in 1995. The CDC study can be found in Pediatrics.
Governors from 36 states have announced their intent to apply for Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants since the $500 million funds were announced in May. One possible barrier for six of the 14 states that have not yet announced intent – Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah – is that they do not have a state-funded preschool program. We at NIEER hope that the federal government will take into account each state's past commitments to access and quality, including the extent to which states have maintained those commitments during the current recession, when judging applicants.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

In this post, NIEER researchers Jen Fitzgerald and Megan Carolan present data from The State of Preschool 2010 report, indicating that pre-K access and quality is far from uniform across the country.
NIEER Co-Director Steve Barnett and National Center for Victims of Crime Executive Director Mai Fernandez take a look at a less obvious benefit of pre-K – reducing the likelihood that youngsters will grow up to become criminals or victims of crime.

Calendar

October 8, 2011 - October 11, 2011
Nashville, TN – The theme for this year's National Black Child Development Institute conference is "Essential for the Journey of Our Children: Keep the Cultural Fire Burning."
November 2, 2011 - November 5, 2011
Orlando, FL – Join early childhood education professionals, administrators, and advocates for the annual National Association for the Education of Young Children conference.
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."
December 9, 2011 - December 11, 2011
Washington, DC - Zero to Three's annual conference provides professionals with the opportunity to enhance their knowledge about early childhood development through interactive sessions and networking opportunities with colleagues and leaders in the field.

Early Education News Roundup

July 29, 2011
The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, PA
The budget deal that was signed into law last month preserved most of the funding for early childhood education programs in Pennsylvania. But in an effort to find $38 million in savings in the child care budget, lawmakers agreed to de-fund the TEACH program.
July 27, 2011
The Oklahoman
But there's one list where Oklahoma is consistently on the right end — early childhood education. So it's puzzling and even disconcerting that Oklahoma isn't on the list of states that are giving the U.S. Department of Education an early heads-up that our state will be applying for Race to the Top funds set aside for early learning.
July 27, 2011
The Charleston Gazette
West Virginia health and education officials plan to apply for federal money that could help improve early childhood learning across the state. Meanwhile, they hope the high marks the state recently garnered for its pre-kindergarten program give it an edge over competing states.
July 27, 2011
The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, VA
Think of it as dropout prevention at its earliest. If students start out behind, they may never catch up, said Steve Barnett, director of the Rutgers University-based National Institute for Early Education Research.
July 26, 2011
Education News Colorado
Colorado is preparing to enter a third round of competition for federal Race to the Top funds, and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia is hopeful the state's luck will change this time around.
July 24, 2011
The Modesto Bee, Modesto, CA
This year, [Fawn] Oliver's district has a solution, what she calls a bridge between preschool and kindergarten. Denair is the only school in the county, to her knowledge, and one of the few districts statewide to offer transitional kindergarten this year. All districts are supposed to have transitional kindergarten in place for 2012-13, when the cutoff birth date for kindergarten moves from Dec. 2 to Nov. 1.
July 24, 2011
The Times-Herald, Newnan, GA
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and 36 other governors have announced their intention to apply for the U. S. Department of Education's Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant. Through RTT-ELC, the U.S. Department of Education will work with the Department of Health and Human Services to distribute $500 million in grant funds to states that develop plans for what it describes as "bold, comprehensive reforms that will raise the quality of early learning programs in their state."
July 24, 2011
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN
There may be no group of students more devastated by a delayed school start than the 4,000-plus 4-year-olds entering prekindergarten this year in the Memphis City Schools system. And Saturday, thousands of them toddled into Memphis Cook Convention Center for their orientation, a jamboree of face painting, balloon animals, carousels and moon bounces.
July 21, 2011
Lincoln Journal Star
State Education Commissioner Roger Breed said he asked the governor to send a letter of intent to apply for up to $50 million, but whether Nebraska actually applies depends on the grant application guidelines, which haven't been finalized. States can apply for between $50 million and $100 million, depending on their populations.
July 21, 2011
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
A recently announced federal grant project has returned early childhood education to the attention of state officials. Gov. Matt Mead recently added Wyoming to a list of 36 states looking at early childhood education as part of a new round of Race to the Top grants.
July 20, 2011
The Star-Advertiser, Honolulu, HI
Hawaii is seeking up to $50 million in federal funding under the government's new early learning challenge in its Race to the Top program. Gov. Neil Abercrombie's office said Tuesday it alerted the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services last week that it intends to participate in the program, meeting a July 15 deadline.
July 19, 2011
The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC
Do Republican lawmakers seek to deny pre-kindergarten education to most economically disadvantaged 4-year-olds? Or has a poorly worded legislative provision led to a very big misunderstanding?
July 19, 2011
The Answer Sheet blog (The Washington Post)
Distinguished developmental psychologist Samuel Meisels believes that most young children have a restricted ability to comprehend the formal, spoken instructions required for most standardized assessments, thus they fail to pick up the cues that older children use to determine what is expected of them in an assessment environment. Younger children also lack the sophistication to interpret situational cues, or written instructions.
July 18, 2011
News & Record, Greensboro, NC
North Carolina cannot limit how many "at risk" pre-kindergarten students can enroll in the program, a state Superior Court judge ruled today. Judge Howard E. Manning Jr. struck down a part of the state budget that would have limited free tuition for state pre-kindergarten services to 20 percent of those enrolled. All others would have had to pay based on a sliding scale.

Resources

Pre-K Now's brief highlights the efforts of five localities across the nation that used investment in early learning as a means to improve school performance and raise achievement for at-risk students long before they reach middle and high school.
The latest report from the Children's Defense Fund complies and analyzes numerous indicators of children's well-being, including those related to early childhood development such as access to prekindergarten and kindergarten programs.
This fact sheet from Child Trends reviews 15 experimentally-evaluated programs and intervention strategies focusing on the improvement of early literacy and language skills.
This resource from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) assesses the 50 states and D.C. on how well residents are faring financially and what states can do to help build and protect assets, including education. As CFED notes, education is an asset that benefits both the individual and the community by promoting civic responsibility, advancing economic competitiveness, and expanding economic opportunity.