Volume 10, Issue 25

September 9, 2011

Hot Topics

The release of the final regulations and application for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge unleashed a frenzy of preparation among state agencies and analysis from education organizations. The Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation analyzed current early education policies to develop their own list of top contenders – New Mexico, Colorado, Iowa, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Vermont. Curiously, this list includes states that have made devastating budget cuts to their early learning programs in recent years.

While many states have expressed interest and intent in the competition, details are vague so far on exactly how states would propose to expand and improve their systems. It is yet to be seen what other changes state will make to better qualify by the October 19 deadline, such as Florida's recent acceptance of federal home visiting grants. Race to the Top may also be sharing the federal spotlight, as President Obama's proposed American Jobs Act would provide $30 billion for teacher jobs. Early childhood education advocates are waiting to see whether these funds would have the youngest learners in mind.
A new report says that during the 2009-2010 school year, 62 percent of preschoolers and 14 percent of kindergarteners were chronically absent. In light of recent research indicating that chronic absenteeism before grade 3 predicts school success, officials in Chicago are making a particular push to get kids in the classroom.
As part of his "Education and the Economy" bus tour through the Great Lakes region, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stopped in Erie, Pennsylvania, to stress the importance of early learning opportunities to close the achievement gap. Noting the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, Secretary Duncan described early learning as "such a common-sense approach."
The latest in the Foundation for Child Development Lecture Series will feature Dr. Donald J. Hernandez, professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, who will present evidence on calculations of high school graduation rates based on children's third-grade reading levels and poverty experiences. Dr. Hernandez will identify specific groups of children who are especially likely to experience low reading skills and explore implications for education reform.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

To mark the observance of International Literacy Day yesterday, NIEER provides some facts and resources on literacy in the U.S. and around the globe.

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

September 7, 2011
The Tampa Tribune
But the governor's stand is appropriate and consistent. Race to the Top promotes the reforms the governor and the Legislature have favored — school accountability, the concept of pay for performance, and tough standards. The goal is to help all schools, whether in poor neighborhoods or exclusive subdivisions, offer students a first-rate education.
September 7, 2011
Litchfield Independent Review, Litchfield, MN
The trend does not necessarily reflect an increase in the number of children with learning disabilities or developmental delays; educators say it does reflect, however, an ECSE program that is accepting more children than before.
September 2, 2011
The Clarion Ledger, Jackson, MS
Early childhood education is looking increasingly slim in Mississippi this budget year, for the obvious reasons - lingering economic doldrums and fears of a "double-dip" recession. But as Rachel Canter, executive director of Mississippi First, a nonprofit specializing in education reform notes on the front of today's Perspective section, now may just be the perfect time to push forward.
September 1, 2011
The St. Louis American
With more budgetary reductions to education, many government-sponsored, urban pre-school programs are being underfunded or cut completely. However, a recent study by researchers from the University of Missouri and University of Minnesota show that such programs are vital to the future of many urban children.
September 1, 2011
KAYU FOX 28, Spokane, WA
Early education specialists credit the increase to research that shows children who go to preschool are better prepared for kindergarten and the grades that follow.
August 31, 2011
The Miami Herald
Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants the state to compete in the next round of the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top competition, which could award up to $100 million to improve early learning. To apply for the grant, however, state legislators must approve a budget amendment accepting $3.4 million in federal funding for a home visiting program for at-risk families.
August 30, 2011
WJBC, Bloomington, IL
Illinois Capital Development Board spokesman Dave Blanchette says schools and non-profits are eligible for up to $5 million to build, renovate or expand facilities devoted to early childhood education in under-served areas. Blanchette says the award money is part of the state’s capital construction program, which does not draw from the general revenue fund.
August 30, 2011
MinnPost.com
To make the growth solution work, we need a very well educated, qualified work force to make the right things happen in our private-sector economy. A big part of assuring the future work force is the success of Minnesota's very youngest citizens, about half of whom start kindergarten not fully prepared to succeed and about a quarter of whom, research tells us, never do catch up.
August 30, 2011
Bangor Daily News, Bangor, ME
Rigorous studies of quality early learning programs confirm that these programs can lead to higher achievement in math and reading, but also development of the soft skills that employers value. And from a long-term perspective, high-quality early learning programs can save as much as $16 for every $1 invested because children who participate in these programs grow up to become better-educated and more productive workers, with far less need for remedial education or involvement in crime.
August 29, 2011
The Columbian, Vancouver, WA
An additional 36 low-income children in Southwest Washington will be able to attend state-subsidized preschool in the fall due to a boost in federal grant money and an increased state focus on early-childhood education. The new student slots are part of a total of 165 additional slots this fall in the state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, paid for with a $2.2 million increase in money from the federal Child Care & Development Fund for the 2011-2013 biennium.
August 27, 2011
Statesman Journal, Salem, OR
Research also shows that investing in early childhood education and development reaps enormous benefits down the road. [R]eaching Oregon's children between newborn and 5 years of age will reduce the possibility that Oregonians will end up spending money later for prisons, unemployment benefits and social services.
August 26, 2011
Southeast Missourian
Improved access to early education in Missouri and other states could come soon in the form of federal grants, but only if the states can show efforts to improve on their own. States are now preparing applications for $500 million in Race to the Top's Early Learning Challenge grants, which according to the U.S. Department of Education will reward states that create comprehensive plans to transform early learning systems with better coordination, clearer learning standards and workforce development.

Resources

If preschoolers come to the classroom hungry, they will not be able to learn. Feeding America presents this interactive map to show the number of children who are food insecure.
The Colorado Department of Education offers numerous videos to help preschool providers learn how to take observations, documentations, and assessments into account when planning best practices.