Volume 10, Issue 7

March 4, 2011

Hot Topics

Michigan's preschool program for at-risk children save the state at least $1 billion in 2009 alone says a new report from the Citizen's Research Council of Michigan. The analysis points out that about 80,000 adult high school graduates age 18 to 29 are in the labor force who likely would have dropped out of school if not for the state's investment in their school readiness. Their collective economic impact is about $1.3 billion annually, including $584 million in reduced spending on things like special education, criminal justice expenses and welfare spending. About $700 million in additional wages were accrued by the state in 2009 due to their higher productivity. The issue of prioritizing funding for pre-K, currently being weighed in a number of states, is the subject of NIEER Co-Director Steve Barnett's latest Preschool Matters … Today! blog post.
The Commercial Appeal reports that a new study from Vanderbilt University found that children who attended Tennessee's public pre-K program gained an average of 82 percent more on early literacy and math skills than comparable children who did not attend. Gains were highest in literacy and relatively modest in math. Tennessee legislators have proposed cutting the program, saying such gains fade out by 3rd grade but Vanderbilt professor Mark Lipsey says research pointing to fade-out is flawed.
Kids in Georgia's state pre-K program won't likely have meals or a nap, not to mention a full day of instruction, if cuts to the program proposed by Governor Nathan Deal go through, reports The Florida Times-Union. Deal wants to reduce the program to a half-day, meaning children would spend four hours in pre-K instead of the current six-and-a-half. Deal's plan would also increase access to the program for an additional 10,000 kids and reduce work days for pre-K teachers from eight to five-and-a-half hours. Communities wishing to keep the longer school day would have to make up the money on their own. Deal's plan is reportedly moving through the legislature quickly. Meanwhile, a report from the Southern Education Foundation says the program is paying off, with fewer students being held back a grade, dropping out of school and landing in special education classes.
The Connecticut Mirror reports that the state's Senate appropriations committee co-chair Toni Harp, who also leads the state's Achievement Gap Task Force, has proposed requiring the state's poorest school districts to provide full-day kindergarten and pre-K for all low-income students by 2013 and to receive state help in doing so. Connecticut has the largest achievement gap as measured by the National Assessment of Education Progress in the nation. The education committee considers the proposal next.
The New America Foundation just released its bi-annual issue brief containing recommendations for the U.S. Congress. This year's installment includes fresh ideas, including a call for research on digital technology, improvements in the professional development of principals, and changes to the "adequate yearly progress" provisions under No Child Left Behind. It also updates ideas the organization's Early Education Initiative first issued in 2009.
The above-titled new book by PBS Newshour education correspondent John Merrow on how schools and teachers can change to keep up with the current educational landscape has garnered enthusiastic reviews from, among others, former Secretary of Education Richard Riley, Marian Wright-Edelman and Jim Lehrer. Merrow draws on his experiences as a reporter for the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio to discuss new possibilities and solutions for our education system and, in his words, transform rather than reform it. Merrow is president of Learning Matters, an independent production company. He hosts his own documentaries on The Merrow Report.

Calendar

March 5, 2011 - March 5, 2011
New York, NY – This workshop is presented by the Bank Street College Graduate School of Education.
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

March 4, 2011
Erie Times-News, Erie, PA
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., introduced a bill Thursday aimed at helping states invest in early learning so that more low-income children have access to high-quality education.
March 2, 2011
The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette, LA
Students who enroll in prekindergarten classes will be better prepared for kindergarten and future school success, Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning officials will tell the Lafayette Parish School Board tonight. The prekindergarten report comes at a critical time. Eight school system prekindergarten classes will lose funding at the end of this school year as federal stimulus funding dries up.
March 2, 2011
WFMZ TV, Allentown, PA
The caucus said early education programs give students better reading, language, and social skills; enhance the workforce by attracting skilled workers who are more productive; and return $16 for each taxpayer dollar invested.
March 2, 2011
Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN
Minnesota, which funds half-day kindergarten, is one of about a dozen states without extra funding for full-day programs. Early education advocates say this latest state push signals that Minnesota is a step closer to following states such as Wisconsin and North Dakota, where all-day, every-day kindergarten is state-supported.
March 1, 2011
Juneau Empire
Advocates of pre-kindergarten and other programs hope to win funding from the Alaska Legislature when the House Finance Committee begins to take testimony on the state budget today. A subcommittee of the committee last week cut a $2 million pre-kindergarten pilot project which helped fund pre-kindergarten programs in six school districts around the state.
March 1, 2011
The Seattle Times
Certainly, we need to make every effort to train and retrain our national workforce, and we must continue to improve our K-12 and postsecondary education systems. But investing in a more educated workforce requires quality early education experiences to lay the foundation for the skills businesses will need.
February 28, 2011
Daily Record, Parsippany, NJ
Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, and the Head Start preschool program has a proven record of success over more than 45 years. That success now is endangered because of a "meat axe" approach to federal and state spending. No doubt we need to bring to a halt the uncontrolled growth of governmental spending, but also there is no doubt that we need to keep those programs that benefit society.
February 28, 2011
The Connecticut Mirror
The co-chair of the state's budget-writing committee is proposing requiring the state's poorest school districts provide full-day kindergarten and pre-kindergarten for all low-income students by July 2013 -- with the state and communities sharing the bill.
February 27, 2011
Rome News-Tribune, Rome, GA
A plan to scale back Georgia's free, full-day pre-kindergarten program — the first of its kind in the U.S. — to a half-day has teachers fearing shrunken paychecks and working parents scrambling to find day care for their 4-year-olds.
February 27, 2011
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
There's a widely acknowledged domino effect: Kids who get a good start on school are more likely to stay out of trouble and graduate, enabling them to be more productive citizens who earn more money, pay more taxes and improve their families' economic situation. A 2006 report by the Bush School at Texas A&M University concluded that Texas would receive $3.50 in return for every dollar invested in "universally accessible, high-quality pre-kindergarten."
February 26, 2011
The Answer Sheet (Washington Post)
Today in Washington D.C. there are enough preschool and Pre-K slots for every 3- and 4-year-old child seeking a spot. We now must work to ensure that all children not only have access to free preschool and Pre-K in their neighborhood, but that the early education they receive is of the highest quality.
February 22, 2011
Times-Herald, Vallejo, CA
Faced with a 22.4 percent cut, Head Start programs could lose an estimated 48,000 staff members to layoffs across California, a California Head Start Association official in the agency's communications office said.

Resources

This new book by Vanity Fair Contributing Editor Seth Mnookin draws on interviews with parents, public-health advocates, scientists, and anti-vaccine activists to explore the widely held belief, despite research to the contrary, that children's vaccines cause autism. Mnookin tackles a fundamental question: How do we decide what the truth is? In doing so, he delves into the way the press covers science, the persistence of conspiracy theories and the role of media figures such as Jenny McCarthy.
This issue of Educational Policy explores the history and future of early care and education policy. Articles analyze the development of ECE policies from various perspectives, including the federal government, school districts and the media. Others examine issues in the field such as financing reforms, increasing accountability and providing access to high-quality teachers.
This brief from The Pew Center on the States shows policymakers the steep price of not making proven investments in children. In a new analysis, economist Mark Cohen and criminologists Alex Piquero and Wesley Jennings report the lesser know, albeit high, price tag associated with an array of bad outcomes ranging from child abuse and neglect to teen pregnancy to criminal activity and substance abuse. The report also estimates resources our nation could redirect to more cost-effective policies in the future as proven preventive measures reduce crime, school failure and health problems.
This Goffin Strategy Group brief by Stacie G. Goffin, Jana Martella and Julia Coffman discusses early childhood system building as a solution to the long-standing problems of systemic fragmentation, inefficiencies and inequities in quality and access. It explores dominant beliefs of the past decade about early childhood governance, concluding that reaching agreement on the functions and outcomes of early childhood governance no longer can be sidestepped.
This report from Voices for America's Children finds that when local, state and federal dollars are combined, each child in the 6 to 18 age range receives more than $9,500 of public investments, as compared to about $2,400 for each 3- to 5-year-old and $600 for each infant or toddler. In other words, for each dollar invested in a school-aged child, about 25 cents are spent on a pre-K child and about 6 cents are spent on an infant or toddler. It calls for closing this investment gap by expanding access to and improving the quality of early screening services, child care and pre-k programs. It also provides data on each state's public spending among the age groups.