Volume 10, Issue 28

October 21, 2011

Hot Topics

After a brief but intense period of brainstorming, speculating, and planning, 35 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, submitted applications for competitive grant funding through the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) this week. (See this post on the Early Ed Watch blog.) More detailed coverage of applications is available at the state level, but a few of the more striking points:

• Fifteen states did not apply for the funds, garnering mixed reactions from state policymakers, particularly in Tennessee and Louisiana.

• Florida applied for grant funds after recent legislative changes to make the state more competitive. However, their application came with a warning that they will reject funds if chosen unless the award "comes back with no strings attached."

• The required attention on the Quality Rating System became a focal point for a number of states, including New York and New Jersey. Georgia specifically noted that they will moved ahead with such a system regardless of whether or not they are awarded funds.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed an overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in the hopes of avoiding the waiver plan of the Obama administration. The markup makes several large changes to the law, including the scrapping of the much maligned Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) yardstick. Early learning advocates had hoped an ESEA overhaul would include explicit language encouraging the use of federal funds for high quality early education programs, though this was not included in the version that passed the Senate. Education Week's Alyson Klein reports on ESEA here.

The Early Learning Proficiency Act, a separate piece of legislation introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), would explicitly stress that Title I funds could be used for early learning for children from birth to age 5. Senate hearings on ESEA will be help on November 8, and the early education community waits to see if the Proficiency Act will be introduced as an amendment. Clare McCann writes about the bill on the Early Ed Watch blog.
New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof offered a suggestion to the "Occupy" movement spreading across the nation: prioritize early childhood education as a tool to combat inequality. Noting that current limited resources make additional education spending a hard sale, Kristof argues that reducing the achievement gap early will ultimately do more than punishing financiers.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

In light of National School Lunch Week, NIEER researchers discuss meals in pre-K classes based on data from The State of Preschool 2010.
What makes a pre-K program universal? NIEER explores in this blog post.


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.
March 28, 2012 - March 31, 2012
Washington, DC - This conference will challenge attendees to consider how to provide a positive childhood experience for the youth of the world.
April 30, 2012 - May 3, 2012
Greensboro, NC - This conference provides professional development for early care and education leaders dedicated to improving access to and the quality of early childhood programs.

Early Education News Roundup

October 20, 2011
The Virginian-Pilot
Gov. Bob McDonnell has decided not to pursue $60 million in federal early education funds at the recommendation of the state superintendent of public instruction.
October 20, 2011
WRTV, Indianapolis, IN
Indiana is one of only 10 states without a state-funded preschool program, and state education officials said they didn't apply for the grants because they didn't feel Indiana would score high enough to qualify for the money.
October 19, 2011
The Columbus Dispatch, Columbus, OH
Ohio could get as much as $70 million in federal money to help better prepare youngsters for kindergarten. The Kasich administration will submit its application this week for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant.
October 19, 2011
The New York Times
Maybe it seems absurd to propose expansion of early childhood education at a time when budgets are being slashed. Yet James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at the University of Chicago, has shown that investments in early childhood education pay for themselves.
October 18, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
During their first five years — the most crucial brain development years of their lives — an estimated 70,000 children in Missouri are in unregulated, unmonitored settings with no standards to protect their health and safety, let alone ensure the adequacy of their early childhood education. Quality early childhood learning environments are a proven economic development strategy to be embraced by all residents in Missouri who care about our children and the future prosperity of our state.
October 18, 2011
Kalamazoo Gazette, Kalamazoo, MI
Education is the key to Michigan's climb out of its economic doldrums, business leaders say. And it is increasingly important to start the educational process early.
October 18, 2011
The New York Times
Parents of infants and toddlers should limit the time their children spend in front of televisions, computers, self-described educational games and even grown-up shows playing in the background, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned on Tuesday. Video screen time provides no educational benefits for children under age 2 and leaves less room for activities that do, like interacting with other people and playing, the group said.
October 17, 2011
Omaha World-Herald
When to launch your child in kindergarten is a question that has always plagued parents of children with birthdays in the second half of the year. What makes the issue pressing now are several factors, chiefly Nebraska's coming change shifting the kindergarten eligibility date from Oct. 15 to July 31.
October 17, 2011
The Buffalo News
New York is competing for $100 million in federal funds to strengthen the education of its youngest children. If the state wins, parents would have access to a comprehensive rating system for daycares and other programs for young children. Teachers in those programs would receive targeted training. And state agencies would coordinate their efforts to better serve young children.
October 17, 2011
Hartford Courant
As the state hastens to submit its "Race to the Top" grant application focused on early childhood by Wednesday's deadline, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy issued an executive order Monday establishing an Early Childhood Office within the Office of Policy and Management. Malloy's directive said the office will study and develop recommendations to create a coordinated system of early care, education and child development; foster school readiness, and reduce the achievement gap.
October 16, 2011
The News Journal, Wilmington, DE
Investment in early childhood education has been linked to savings later. Those who go to preschool are less likely to drop out of high school and are more likely to pursue higher education, studies have shown. And preschool is thought to help disadvantaged children gain skills that could help close the achievement gap.
October 16, 2011
Norwich Bulletin, Norwich, CT
Regulatory changes to school entry vaccination requirements were made earlier this year, according to the state Department of Education. Effective Jan. 1, 2012, the new mandates require that all 2- to 5-year-olds enrolled in prekindergarten receive a flu vaccine between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31 the previous year.
October 15, 2011
Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL
To their credit, most Alabama educators and many state elected officials recognize the value of top-quality pre-K programs -- hence the development of the existing program over several years with an emphasis on maintaining high academic standards.
October 14, 2011
The Wall Street Journal
Millions of dollars in aid for pre-kindergarten programs in New York City are going unspent, city Comptroller John Liu said in an audit released Thursday that questioned whether the practice denies young children an early start on their education.
October 13, 2011
The York Dispatch, York, PA
But one value that all stakeholders should agree on is the importance of high-quality, early childhood development.
October 12, 2011
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN
Tennessee will not apply for up to $60 million in onetime Race to the Top funds for early childhood education, with officials saying requirements don't meet the state's needs.
October 11, 2011
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Cuts to Georgia's lottery-funded pre-kindergarten program are fueling high teacher turnover and jeopardizing years of effort to better prepare youngsters for school, educators say. Teachers this year left pre-k programs in droves, moving into elementary school openings to avoid a 10-percent, state-ordered pay cut that’s just kicked in.
October 11, 2011
The Sacramento Bee
Computer instruction at the earliest grade levels can be controversial, and it's rarely used every day to substitute for traditional teacher instruction of the littlest learners. Still, a growing number of schools are embracing technology-infused approaches to teaching young students, which proponents say can allow children to move at their own paces and help educators manage larger classes as school budgets are being slashed nationwide.
October 11, 2011
Black Hills Pioneer, Spearfish, SD
Now Spearfish will likely need to have serious discussions about implementing all-day kindergarten. During the 2011 Legislative session, administrators discussed the possibility of the state mandating the move, and today administrators are preparing for the discussion to occur again.
October 10, 2011
WRAL TV, Raleigh, NC
Gov. Bev Perdue is asking lawmakers to find $30M by the beginning of 2012 for pre-kindergarten for at-risk four-year-olds. The move, she says, is the first step in complying with this summer's ruling by Judge Howard Manning.


This report from PlayScience finds that mobile devices with their educational and entertaining apps are on the rise, noting that among American children ages 2 to 13, three-quarters have access to smart phones, one-half to an Ipod Touch, more than one-quarter to a tablet, and one-quarter to an e-reader.
This update from the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) reports on the results of a recent survey on the costs of child care, revealing that the cost of center-based care for two children exceeds annual average rent payments in every state.
This online resource from Talaris Institute provides research-based information about children’s developmental milestones from birth to age 5.
These two tools from The Finance Project aim to help communities establish Promise Neighborhood initiatives by mapping funds and preparing budgets.