Volume 10, Issue 4

February 4, 2011

Hot Topics

Many doubted whether the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, otherwise known as No Child Left Behind, would be reauthorized in this Congress but bipartisan indications of a desire to do so and a growing realization that the states are moving forward on education reform have changed that. If ESEA were reauthorized, pre-K could make gains if, among other things, Title I funding were made more accessible for early education programs and school districts were encouraged to look at pre-K in addressing poor school performance. New America Foundation's Lisa Guernsey explains in her Early Ed Watch blog. The House Education and Workforce Committee is planning to hold its first hearing on ESEA reauthorization next week.
A proposal floated by Republicans in the New Jersey Legislature calls for cutting the Abbott Preschool Program from a full day to a half day of services. Pointing out that the justices in the 1998 Abbott v. Burke V decision did not call for a full day of services, the proposal claims the cut would garner $300 million in savings that would be disbursed to school districts across the state. The Abbott Program is among the nation's most highly regarded. NIEER co-director Steve Barnett discusses the proposal and its implications in this week's post on Preschool Matters … Today!
Children from middle-class families, who have been losing economic ground for years, now face a precarious situation as cuts to programs they increasingly depend on loom in the near future. That's the assessment of a new Foundation for Child Development report that tracks middle class families over the last 24 years. "We have a sleeping giant on our hands," says author Donald Hernandez, Hunter College. He identifies access to pre-K and health insurance as two key indicators critical to children's long-term well-being. "Budget decisions we make in the coming months will have consequences that could last a lifetime," concludes FCD president Ruby Takanishi.
A study examining the influence of schooling during children's first and second years of pre-K found that kids who completed two years of pre-K had higher scores for decoding and letter knowledge, suggesting the effects of two years of schooling are cumulative. However, the study found that regardless of whether children attended for one or two years, pre-K was not associated with children's development of self-regulation skills. Those skills were predicted by children's age rather than schooling. Lead researcher Lori E. Skibbe, Michigan State University, says that in pre-K, more explicit attention should be directed to exercises that build self-control. The article appears in the current issue of Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that Susie Buffett made a donation to the University of Nebraska Foundation to establish the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, a research, education, outreach and policy center that will address early childhood development and education of children from birth to age 8. Matches from the university and other sources are anticipated to create and endowment worth more than $100 million. Buffet, who chairs the Sherwood Foundation and Buffet Early Childhood Fund, also donated money to fund three schools for low-income kids in Nebraska.
A cost-benefit analysis of children who attended the Chicago Child Parent Centers found that the preschool part of the program generated $11 of economic benefits over a child's lifetime for every dollar spent initially on it. The analysis, conducted by NIEER scientific advisory board member Arthur Reynolds, University of Minnesota, found that children enrolled in preschool CPC received net benefits at age 26 totaling $83,000 per participant in 2007 dollars compared with children who did not take part in the program. The CPC resulted in significantly higher rates of attendance at 4-year colleges, employment in higher-skilled jobs, and significantly lower rates of felony arrests and symptoms of depression in young adulthood. "In scarce times, policymakers should divest in programs that aren't working and reserve the scarce resources for the most effective," Reynolds said. The article appears in the current issue of Child Development.
The Gainesville Times reports that school leaders are fearful lawmakers in Georgia, the first state to launch a universal pre-K program, will cut funding for it. That's because forecasts show a shortfall of $320 million in 2012 lottery funds available for state pre-K and HOPE Scholarship expenses. Legislators are considering making state pre-K, which has been free to all 4-year-olds, income-based. Demand for Georgia's program has been high, resulting in wait lists for some families. State law does not require districts to provide pre-K.

Calendar

March 2, 2011 - March 4, 2011
Salt Lake City, UT – Join educators, researchers, policymakers, and administrators for the first annual Early Education and Technology for Children conference.
April 15, 2011 - April 16, 2011
Denver, CO -- This regional conference will offer workshops covering early childhood education topics relevant to teachers, administrators, researchers, health professionals, and policymakers.
May 2, 2011 - May 5, 2011
Greensboro, NC – The National Smart Start Conference is hailed as the nation's largest conference devoted to early education systems and strategies.
July 10, 2011 - July 13, 2011
Orlando, FL – The CAYL Institute will hold its third national conference for elementary school principals in Orlando, Florida.

Early Education News Roundup

February 4, 2011
The Sacramento Bee
It is a sad fact that preschool education is already out of reach for many families across California, mainly due to the lack of availability. That should concern all of us, because research has shown children who attend a high-quality preschool education enjoy greater academic achievement, are more likely to graduate from high school and college and are less likely to be involved in crime.
February 3, 2011
The Washington Informer
A report from the Maryland State Department of Education found that during the 2008 and 2009 school year, young children who participated in pre-kindergarten and other child care and education services at the center were better prepared for school than those students who did not attend. Even students receiving free and reduced-priced meals, Special Education services and help with English Language were found to be "fully ready" for kindergarten if they had first attended a Judy Center or an early learning program, the report said.
February 2, 2011
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Gov. Nathan Deal is proposing to cut nearly $20 million from the pre-k program this year, and Georgia taxpayers face a difficult question: Can they afford free pre-k for every kid in the state?
February 2, 2011
The Sun Herald, Biloxi, MS
The report, compiled by researchers from the University of Missouri, showed gains in the quality of care provided in infant and toddler classroom environments. Researchers also found improvement in the social-emotional skills of children in the centers that received assistance. However, researchers found no statistically significant progress in cognitive growth of infants and toddlers. They said the program's intervention wouldn't affect cognitive outcomes until classroom quality levels are raised higher.
February 1, 2011
The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, PA
Constantly confronted by the harsh realities of the corporate balance sheet and often skeptical of government spending, we've come to believe in one key to sustained economic success. In our view, it isn't capital markets or industrial production or information technology. Instead, it's something that is at once intuitive but somewhat surprising, proven but somehow forgotten: Educating children as early in their lives as we can.
February 1, 2011
Kalamazoo Gazette, Kalamazoo, MI
Yes, it’s a long-term investment that can take years, if not decades to see the full payoff. But in terms of bang for the buck, putting money into programs such as high-quality universal preschool and the Nurse-Family Partnership program makes as much sense as business tax incentives, says [Tim] Bartik, a labor economist for the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo.
January 31, 2011
Times Union, Albany, NY
But education advocates are warning that any expansion or even maintenance of existing programs is at risk now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to chop at least a billion dollars of school aid out of next year's state budget. That can have dire consequences later, advocates warn, because studies show that 90 percent of brain development happens in the first five years of life.
January 31, 2011
Grand Forks Herald, Grand Forks, ND
Preschool benefits young children and should receive state support, North Dakota education officials told state lawmakers Monday. Senate Bill 2338 requests $1.5 million for a preschool pilot program. Four school districts would receive state grants to offer early childhood education programs.
January 29, 2011
The Star-Ledger
The senators suggest slicing preschool funding in half — reducing programs from a full-day to a half-day — then using the $300 million saved to boost funding for suburban and rural schools, some of which saw their state aid wiped out in last year's budget cuts.
January 28, 2011
The Indianapolis Star
The Indiana General Assembly should give full consideration to funding preschool programs for at-risk children ("Invest clout in early-childhood ed," Dec. 29). Investments in quality early-childhood education have been proven to have a return of $16 for every $1 spent.
January 27, 2011
The Des Moines Register
Iowans have little way of knowing how much their $156 million investment in preschool for 4-year-old children has paid off statewide in the past four years. State records paint a murky picture of the strides Iowa children have made during a universal preschool expansion. Also unclear is whether the optional classes draw students who need them most, including children from low-income families.
January 27, 2011
The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte, NC
Who's going to step up and save Bright Beginnings in the next two weeks? That's the $10 million question in the wake of Tuesday's school board vote to delay cutting public prekindergarten seats for more than 2,000 4-year-olds.
January 26, 2011
Tribune & Georgian, St. Marys, GA
With Gov. Nathan Deal recommending a $19.7 million cut in funding to the state's pre-kindergarten program, reductions may affect private pre-K schools as well as public. Deal's suggested pre-K cut, a result of a projected $320 million reduction in Georgia Lottery revenues, has caused Camden County Schools to postpone registration for the program, possibly until April.
January 25, 2011
The Northwestern, Oshkosh, WI
Early education has been highly popular and experienced constant, rapid growth for the last decade. The number of children in 4K has tripled since 2001, and 85 percent of districts now offer a form of the program, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Resources

This study, appearing in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, investigated the effects of Home Instruction of Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), a paraprofessional home visiting program, on parents and children. Participation in the intervention was a stronger predictor than maternal education, depression, and stress. A third-grade follow-up of children in the program showed significantly higher math achievement when compared to low-income Latino third graders in the same school district, which suggests the HIPPY model had positive effects by addressing the need for culturally sensitive programming aimed at improving educational achievement among minority children.
This brief from Grantmakers for Education summarizes key themes from its June 2010 conference of funders, researchers, policymakers and practitioners that examined the roll of philanthropy in supporting English Language Learner students' success. It examines the ELL population, pointing out that most ELLs are not immigrants, looks at their location and needs, and discusses ways philanthropy can address them.
The University of Oregon developed this web site dedicated to understanding the human brain and the science behind it. Nine segments describe the brain systems and the nature of the effects of experience on each of the functions. Points made are backed up by research and references. A section is devoted to “Neuroscience for Kids.” Among subjects covered in this section are brain structure, toxic stress, development of brain cell connections and day-to-day care of children's brains. A DVD can be ordered from the web site.
This federally provided online data repository is, say its creators, provided to spur and inform conversations about how to improve educational results and inform discussions of key issues such as trends for important indicators of educational progress, how states are doing compared to the rest of the country and progress in eliminating education gaps. It presents indicators in four areas relative to the President's 2020 College Attainment Goal: early learning through high school, postsecondary education and training, teachers and leaders, and an excellent education for all (improving achievement).