Volume 10, Issue 27

October 7, 2011

Hot Topics

In a recent article, TIME magazine correspondent Kayla Webley reports on Pre-K Now's final report, Transforming Public Education: Pathway to a Pre-K-12 Future. Webley focuses on five highlights from the report, which include calling for public education to span pre-K to 12, strategically expanding access to pre-K, coordinating programs within states, assessing outcomes, and using the federal government to spur pre-K reform.

TIME magazine also reported on the ongoing battle over pre-K cuts in North Carolina that will impact thousands of children at risk of school failure. The article (in its October 10 print edition and available to subscribers online) explores the challenges faced not only by North Carolina but also in other states as budget shortfalls continue to threaten early learning.

PNC Bank announced that they will provide an additional $250 million for its Grow Up Great initiative, which helps provide early education services to disadvantaged children, educates parents on the importance of the first five years, and advocates for public investments in high quality early childhood programs in areas where PNC operates. This is an expansion of the initiative that has already spent $100 million over 10 years as PNC extends its geographic reach.
This week Grammy-award winning pop singer Shakira was appointed to serve on the president's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Shakira has a long history of helping children by highlighting the need for early intervention and education. Her efforts include the founding of two groups, the Barefoot Foundation and the Latin America in Solidarity Action Foundation, as well as serving as a UN Goodwill Ambassador to help advance quality early childhood care and education programs throughout the globe. For more on Shakira's past work, read Preschool Matters' 2010 interview with the pop singer.

After her appointment, Shakira wrote a post for the White House blog explaining the need for early childhood education to help lift children out of poverty. This comes on the heels of a new report from the Pew Hispanic Center that points out trends in the growth of poverty since the recession's start in 2007, noting that as of 2010, 6.1 million Latino children are living in poverty—a larger amount of children living in poverty than any other racial or ethnic group.

In 1982, President Reagan made a proclamation declaring October to be Head Start Awareness Month, a proud tradition still carried on by the early childhood education field. The federal Head Start program has been operating since 1965 and has served more than 28 million children and their families since then. Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, the Office of Head Start's director, wrote about the program and the awareness campaign on the White House blog earlier this week.

Beginning this week and throughout the month, NIEER will be tweeting relevant resources with the hashtag #HeadStartAwareness. Follow @PreschoolToday to get all the updates.

The Associated Press reports that a poll conducted in New Mexico found nearly 80 percent of the state's residents support early childhood education and about 70 percent were in favor of more state funding for preschool.
This Monday marked the 83rd annual Child Health Day. In the spirit of the day, NIEER rounded up some resources on childhood obesity, and new findings were released from the landmark Nestle Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study. The latest data from the study found that unhealthy dietary patterns contributing to childhood obesity begin as early as 12 to 24 months. In addition, children ages 2 to 4 are not eating enough vegetables or whole grains while consuming too many sweets and saturated fats.

But good news is also on the horizon. The Rutgers' Nutritional Sciences Preschool is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, highlighting how a pre-K program's conscious teaching of nutrition can encourage healthy habits.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

As the federal Head Start program celebrates Family Engagement Week, NIEER takes a look at state pre-K policies on family participation.
As part of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, NIEER points to some past research on preschool's role in preventing childhood obesity.
In this post, NIEER researcher Megan Carolan provides an overview of pre-K's appearances in the national news, including MSNBC's Education Nation.

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."
October 18, 2011

New Brunswick, NJ – The latest in the Foundation for Child Development Lecture Series will feature Dr. Greg Duncan of the University of California Irvine.
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 17, 2011 - November 19, 2011
National Harbor, MD - At this conference, participants will explore research and best practices regarding early intervention and early childhood special education.
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.
March 14, 2012 - March 16, 2012
Salt Lake City, UT - At this conference, participants will learn about and discuss research and best practices involving the use of technology in early childhood education.

Early Education News Roundup

October 7, 2011
Economix blog (The New York Times)
But here’s a question: if we want to increase college completions over the longer term, is it more cost-effective to direct resources to college students or to preschoolers and kindergarteners? The influential economist and Nobel laureate James Heckman, among others, has asserted that early educational investments have the highest return, because of the cumulative nature of skill development (“skill begets skill”).
October 7, 2011
California Watch
The educational toy market is vast. The problem, [Children's Technology Review editor Warren Buckleitner] said, is there is no evidence that the products actually teach children what they claim.
October 6, 2011
The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, PA
A new report shows Pennsylvania has made small gains in preparing children for school by age 5, but warns trends are bad in pre-kindergarten and subsidized child care. [Pennsylvania Partnership for Children President Joan Benso] pointed to a relatively stagnant level of publicly funded pre-kindergarten enrollment, and a dramatic increase in children on waiting lists for state-subsidized child care.
October 5, 2011
The Providence Journal, Providence, RI
Before they even enter kindergarten, poor children lag dramatically behind middle- and upper-income kids. Now, the state has an unprecedented opportunity to help these vulnerable children advance from their earliest years and start school on strong footing.
October 4, 2011
The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS
Parents would receive matching funds to send their children to better preschools. Preschool teachers would receive financial incentives to enhance their education. Those are just two elements of a proposal to improve early child education in the state if Mississippi is awarded up to $50 million in the federal Race to the Top early learning challenge.
October 4, 2011
Education Week
Advocates credit Pre-K Now with helping spark substantial growth in state prekindergarten programs over the past decade.
October 3, 2011
Times Daily, Florence, AL
Students who fail to master basic reading skills as early as third grade are more likely to drop out of school or will fail to graduate high school, according to a national study.
October 2, 2011
The Boston Globe
Massachusetts is developing plans to assess students as soon as they enter kindergarten to gauge how prepared they are for school, part of a proposal to overhaul early education after a decade that saw basic literacy skills for elementary-age children across the state barely improve at all.
September 30, 2011
KPIC, Roseburg, OR
Governor John Kitzhaber wants Oregon to take a different approach to early childhood education.
September 30, 2011
Newark Post, Newark, DE
Governor Jack Markell announced the start of the next phase of Delaware's plan to improve the quality of early childhood education. Starting on October 1, daycare and preschool providers statewide will receive an increased reimbursement rate for caring for children eligible for Delaware's Purchase of Care system.
September 29, 2011
WIBC 93.1 FM, Indianapolis, IN
Indiana is taking a baby step toward state-funded preschool. A legislative study committee has recommended forming an advisory panel to work with the Education Roundtable, the board which helps chart state education policy.
September 29, 2011
WIBC, Indianapolis, IN
Indiana is taking a baby step toward state-funded preschool. A legislative study committee has recommended forming an advisory panel to work with the Education Roundtable, the board which helps chart state education policy.
September 28, 2011
The Baltimore Sun
Achieving steady improvement in early education will require wisdom, courage and a stalwart approach. Those in Maryland who are making early childhood education a priority know that the biggest payoffs from this work will be many years away, when these now young people are leading more fulfilled lives with higher-paying jobs and making greater contributions to the societies in which they live.
September 26, 2011
KOB TV, Albuquerque, NM
New Mexico childcare providers said they believe thousands of kids are missing out on valuable early education because of funding cuts.

Resources

Pre-K Now's final report advocates for a public education model that embraces pre-K in the traditional K-12 system.
This Washington Post Live conference discussed the current state of early childhood education and how programs can be grown to serve the best needs of children today and in the future. Presenters included NIEER's director Steve Barnett, Obama administration officials Jacqueline Jones and Roberto Rodriguez, and special guests Elmo and Cookie Monster, among others.
The National Council of La Raza's report highlights opportunities to improve educational outcomes for young Latino children, examining barriers to quality and access that limit participation and offering policy recommendations.
This publication from The Finance Project provides information on federal funding sources to support programs promoting early literacy.