Volume 12, Issue 20

Friday, October 4, 2013

Hot Topics

The sequester has already had a detrimental impact on special education and Head Start programs, report Education Week, and The Atlantic, and the shutdown of the federal government in the absence of a budget will hit children’s programs hard. With staffing and funding shut down for Education and Health and Human Services programs, at least 20 Head Start programs whose grants expired on October 1, serving nearly 19,000 children, will have to close quickly. Time reports 23 programs closing across the country, and notes the irony, as it is Head Start Awareness Month. Funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), supporting nutritional needs of women and children, will stop with the shutdown, reports ThinkProgress, and other forms of support appear to be tenuous if the shutdown continues over time.

Numerous government websites that provide data used by policymakers, researchers, and administrators have been taken offline in the shutdown, including the website of the National Center for Education Statistics. As NIEER's annual Preschool Yearbook is now funded through a contract with NCES, the shutdown is delaying data collection, potentially leading to a stop-work order if the shutdown continues through October 15.

At first glance, it may be hard to understand why the business community is interested in early childhood education: one group sits at a conference table and the other at the water table. However, attendees at ReadyNation’s 2013 National Business Leader Summit on Early Childhood Investment in Atlanta explain their interest as building both the future workforce and the customer base the country needs. The Summit, a Commitment of the Clinton Global Initiative and sponsored by leading business voices and educational organizations, included participants from business, government, media, and research, including NIEER’s Director Steve Barnett. The event was covered by Politico, which provided several examples of businesses taking action in their respective states to push for increased investment in educational programs meant to build the workforce of the future. The Economix blog from The New York Times, reports that the United States joins Germany and Japan in taking action on expanding early childhood care and education, due to mounting evidence of its short- and long-term success. NIEER published a brief summary of this research evidence in February, in response to the President’s proposed Preschool for All plan.

Recent news coverage has made clear that cities and school districts are elevating early childhood education as a priority, as school budgets began slowly recovering from the recession. Seattle’s City Council passed a Preschool for All plan  on September 23, to provide a quality early learning experience to all 3- and 4-year-olds.  Recent evidence from the program, which enrolls about 65 percent of the city’s eligible 4-year-olds, suggests that kindergarteners who had who participated in the program had a three- to four-month advantage over classmates who had not. In a blog for the Huffington Post, Susan Buffett of The Sherwood Foundation highlighted local and statewide efforts in Nebraska from a variety of advocacy groups. The Denver Education Compact is launching Countdown to Kindergarten, a new effort focused on helping students and families transition to kindergarten, to work with area elementary schools to support low-income families and help bridge the achievement gap.

Nine early childhood and public health organizations--the National Women’s Law Center, the Cancer Action Network of the American Cancer Society, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Save the Children, CLASP, MomsRising, the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Lung Association--released the report “Raising Smart, Healthy Kids in Every State” which explores the health and educational benefits of President Obama’s proposed plan to expand federal investment in early education through the tobacco tax. The groups estimate that this plan would provide high-quality pre-K to two million children per year and prevent 1.7 million children from becoming smokers. Both national and state-level infographics are available. NIEER Director Steve Barnett has written on the dual health and education goals of this proposal at Preschool Matters...Today!. Early childhood education programs have documented smoking prevention benefits, as well as a number of other positive health outcomes

Resources

The New America Foundation updated its Federal Education Budget Project (FEBP) database with pre-K enrollment data from the 2011-2012 year. FEBP uses NIEER’s data on state-funded enrollment and explores district- and state-level enrollment and spending in pre-K, special education, and K-12.

The Office of Head Start has released its Program Information Report (PIR), which provides comprehensive data on the services, staff, children, and families served by Head Start and Early Head Start programs nationwide. All grantees and delegates are required to submit Program Information Reports. The PIR data is compiled for use at federal, regional, state, and local levels. Accounts can be requested at the link above.

The National Governors Association has released this report, providing a research base for state leaders designing policy frameworks focused on language and literacy outcomes.

MCREL has released a policy brief, Funding Early Childhood Education: The President’s Plan for the Future and States’ Current Actions, outlining the Preschool for All program and related funding strategies. The report offers recommendations for state policymakers and describes some existing state funded programs.

This report and strategic roadmap, released by Too Small to Fail, an initiative of Next Generation and the Clinton Foundation,  explores the positive impact of early childhood development programs for parents, caregivers, children, businesses, and communities.

NIEER Activities

CEELO Update

CEELO proudly celebrates our first year – and what a productive year it’s been! We launched the CEELO website, hosted the first annual National RoundTAble, produced and led webinars, presented at conferences, responded to state technical assistance requests, produced information requests, and created a directory of state early learning contacts. To learn more about CEELO, stop by and explore our website features. The Resources page offers selected resources for each of five topic areas. Webinars, conference presentation, FastFacts (rapid response information documents developed by CEELO staff to answer common queries), and Policy Briefs are available under respective tabs on our Products page.  As we enter Year 2, CEELO looks forward to building on our work this year to advance better outcomes for children and families.

October 9, 2013 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Jointly sponsored by CEELO and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center, this web-conference will engage state early childhood specialists, early childhood leaders, and national experts in a dialogue about how to best support formative assessment processes. Register here.

CEELO, in partnership with the Great Lakes and Midwest Regional Comprehensive Centers, held a two day meeting in Chicago on September 16-17, 2013.   The meeting,  Building State Education Agency Capacity to Implement and Sustain Comprehensive Early Childhood Assessment Systems, was designed to provide opportunities for state teams from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to discuss with peers and experts a range of strategies to provide leadership, governance, and financing; align standards and assessments, and provide professional development to implement comprehensive early childhood assessment systems that improves teaching practice and outcomes for children.  Resources, including power points, team planning tools, are posted on CEELO’s Website at http://ceelo.org/ceelo-events/other-events/  (Click on the "Great Lakes" tab).

The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy) has released a report on Part C and Part B 619 data systems. The report includes collected information from the Part C and 619 coordinators and their data managers about the current status of their state data systems, priorities for improvement, and areas where the states would like technical assistance. The report presents a comprehensive look at the status of the data systems, including what data states are collecting, what data have been linked, how states are using data, and priorities for the coming years with regard to data systems development and enhancement.

DaSy recently hosted the Improving Data, Improving Outcomes conference; the link leads to slide presentations and useful resources related to improving data collection and teaching stakeholders to use data effectively to improve child and program outcomes.

Calendar

Thursday, October 3, 2013 -
1:00pm to 2:00pm

This webinar will showcase San Antonio, Texas, highlighting how the city has followed a pre-k to third grade approach to reshape early childhood and family support services.  Speakers will share lessons and specific examples about the collaborative systems they have built to provide high quality, complementary and connected educational opportunities for children from prekindergarten through third grade.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 -
3:00pm to 4:30pm

Jointly sponsored by CEELO and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center, this web-conference will engage state early childhood specialists, early childhood leaders, and national experts in a dialogue about how to best support formative assessment processes.

Date has been changed to OCTOBER 9.

Friday, October 11, 2013 -
8:00am to 5:00pm

The Center for Early Education Evaluation at HighScope will hold its Second Annual Conference for Early Childhood Research and Evaluation on the theme "Working Together Toward a Common Goal: Using Research to Inform Practice and Practice to Inform Research." The conference is now accepting paper submissions.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 12:00pm

The University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) and Curry School of Education will be offering a free, 4-week, online course on Effective Classroom Interactions. This course will focus on supporting early childhood teachers to offer emotionally supportive classroom interactions. It builds from the successful work of CASTL in developing and testing professional development models that promote positive changes in teachers’ practice.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 to Saturday, November 23, 2013

Washington, DC - Attendees of this conference will be given opportunities to examine best practices in early childhood education, learn the latest research findings, and network with their peers.

Early Education News Roundup

Wednesday, October 2, 2013
(The Hechinger Report)

For the short term, most schools will likely be unaffected by the federal government shutdown that went into effect....The biggest immediate impact could be felt in Head Start programs, though, which are still reeling from federal sequestration cuts that pushed 57,000 children out of the preschool program for low-income children. According to the National Head Start Association (NHSA), an advocacy group, 23 programs in 11 states with grant cycles that begin Oct. 1 are poised to lose grant money due to the shutdown.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013
(Time)

Museums were shuttered, national parks closed, panda cams were switched off and some low-income students stayed home from preschool on Tuesday as the closure of the federal government went into effect. In Talladega, Alabama more than 700 preschoolers couldn’t go to class. During an interview with NPR, Dora Jones, the director of the regional Head Start Program in Talladega, said she began receiving phone calls around 5:00am on Tuesday from concerned parents who rely on the program to look after their children during work hours. . . .  In all, 23 similar programs in 11 states have run out of federal grant money and educators fear more closures will come as alternative sources of funds run dry. Ironically, October is Head Start Awareness Month.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
(Early Ed Watch Blog at the New America Foundation)

Education programs funded with mandatory spending—including Pell Grants and federal student loans—will continue to operate as normal. And most of the big K-12 programs, namely Title I grants to low-income students and IDEA special education grants to states, have already seen a substantial portion of their funding disbursed....Some other programs won’t be so lucky. About 20 Head Start programs, enrolling nearly 19,000 children, have grants that expire on October 1 and won’t receive new funding to continue operating until the shutdown is resolved.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
(MSNBC)

For 770 preschool-aged children in eastern Alabama, school is out indefinitely. Thanks to the government shutdown which began Tuesday morning, Cheaha Regional Head Start (CRHS) has had to close all 16 of its locations, furlough its 240 employees without pay, and tell parents to keep all of the program’s students at home. . . . Head Start programs like Jones’ provide an alternative to private preschool for children from low-income families. Although such programs operate locally, they run on federal grants which are awarded annually. The Cheaha region’s most recent annual grant was awarded on September 30, 2012, and expired on Monday. The next day, the federal Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration for Children and Families closed its doors as a result of the government shutdown; as a result, there is no one around to send CRHS more grant money.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
(Huffington Post (Editorial))

In order to see children achieve their dreams and goals, investing in them from a young age is key to their ultimate life path. When we don't invest in children, they simply cannot flourish. . . . The Brookings Institute found that a comprehensive national early childhood education program would add $2 trillion to the annual gross domestic product within a generation. In a 2010 report, the Institute for a Competitive Workforce found that for every dollar invested in pre-K today, savings range from $2.50 to as much as $17 in the years ahead.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
(DesMoinesRegister.com)

More state money is needed to support early childhood education in Iowa, members of the Des Moines school board said Tuesday. Participation increased this year in the district’s Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program, which provides 13 hours of classroom lessons a week for 4-year-old students. But many children need more instruction to be prepared for school, said Teree Caldwell-Johnson. Opening up the program to 3-year-old children and offering more full-day classrooms would better prepare Iowa’s youngest students for success, she said.

Monday, September 30, 2013
(South Jersey Times )

More than 630,000 New Jersey children lived in low-income families earning too little to meet their needs in 2012 — a 19 percent increase since 2008, according to new U.S. Census data. In Cumberland County, 51 percent of children were found to be living in low-income households — a 19 percent increase since 2008. And, in 2012, nearly a quarter of Cumberland County children were found to be living in families below the federal poverty level — roughly, $23,000 annually for a family of four.

Monday, September 30, 2013
(PR Newswire)

The report titled "Asia-Pacific Pre-Primary Education and Childcare Industry Outlook to 2017- India and China to Lead Growth" presents a comprehensive analysis of the industry covering aspects including market size in terms of enrollments and establishments. The report also entails a detailed description of the prominent and emerging geographic markets of the region including India, China, JapanSouth Korea and Australia. South and West Asian regions have witnessed the emergence of a burgeoning pre-primary education and childcare industry in the span of the last ten years. The gross enrollment ratios have shown a tremendous improvement from a growing number of children taking part in the preschool programs or receiving child care benefits.

Monday, September 30, 2013
(Economix Blog at The New York Times)

Japan and Germany, two countries long considered laggards in the child care area, are now increasing their spending. In the United States, President Obama is keeping the issue atop his domestic agenda, where it is gaining traction despite slim chances of Congressional approval. Many states and several big cities have developed innovative and successful pre-K programs.

Monday, September 30, 2013
(The Huffington Post (Blog))

Here's the problem: Too many children arrive at Kindergarten already behind. Some are 18 months behind, two years behind, or more. What's worse, far too many children will keep falling further behind - and never catch up....So please allow me to share an "investment tip" from Omaha: If you're looking for the biggest return on your investment in education, invest in high-quality learning during the first five years of life - before kids enter school.

Sunday, September 29, 2013
(The Virginian Pilot)

A new early childhood center planned in the Park Place neighborhood looks, from an architect's rendering, like a typical school. But when it opens next fall, it will be tasked with the unusual mission of educating policymakers as well as children. A product of Elevate Early Education, a statewide advocacy group, the E3 School is part of an effort to grow public investment in preschool. The new school's advocates hope more comprehensive research will help build a case for additional support. . . .  Lisa Howard, Elevate Early Education's president, also served as president of Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads, a successful nonprofit that worked to improve child care. As part of the E3 school, Howard wants to partner with Norfolk Public Schools to track how students enrolled in the pre-K program do over time. The results, she said, will prove "investment in early childhood education is the best investment in our education system." It's easy to find critics of some early childhood programs like Head Start, but the National Institute for Early Education Research wrote that pre-K does produce "substantial long-term gains" for students enrolled in high-quality programs.

Saturday, September 28, 2013
(SFGate.com)

Children who participate in the [San Francisco's] Preschool for All programs have a huge advantage when they get to kindergarten, according to a scientific study released to The Chronicle. The report showed the preschoolers had a three- to four-month advantage over kindergarten classmates who didn't participate in the program.

Friday, September 27, 2013
(Kentucky.com Herald-Leader Editorial)

Lawmakers heard last week that more than 80 child-care centers have closed since the state began slashing subsidies in April. . . . Brooks estimated that as many as 25,000 children could be dropped from the subsidy program over the next year. Lawmakers were told that Kentucky ranks dead last among states in spending on child care assistance. That last-place ranking has implications not just for the welfare of children but also for the quality of the state's work force.

Friday, September 27, 2013
(The Nation (This Week in Poverty Blog))

Melissa Boteach, director of Half in Ten, a campaign to cut poverty in half in ten years, notes “crisis levels of poverty” for children of color under age 5, including more than 42 percent of African-American children and 37 percent of Latino children living below the poverty line. The Children’s Defense Fund also highlighted disturbing statistics across the nation regarding poverty levels of children of color under age 6.

Boteach points out that toxic stress associated with persistent poverty affects brain development in children, and leads to adverse outcomes in education, health and worker productivity when those children reach adulthood. We also know that modest investments in young children can offset some of those negative effects, but we currently are moving in the opposite direction.

Thursday, September 26, 2013
(Huffington Post Impact (Blog))

We need to better understand what the costs to the individual child are when early childhood educational programs are cut, and consequently, the cumulative effect of those cuts on what I call the "next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs." Recent breakthroughs in the research of brain development help us to begin to understand the importance of the social and cognitive development a child experiences during the formative preschool years (three to five years old).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
(Albuquerque Journal News)

Over the past 15 years, the state has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into full-day kindergarten, prekindergarten, family nutrition initiatives, reading readiness programs, remedial classes for college, and increased salaries and training for teachers. Yet, New Mexico remains plagued by poor fourth grade reading scores, high teen dropout rates, and disappointing numbers of college graduates each year.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
(The Journal)

In a paper delivered at the fall 2013 Brookings Panel on Economic Activity earlier this month, "The Impacts of Expanding Access to High-Quality Preschool Education," researchers Elizabeth Cascio (Dartmouth College) and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach (Northwestern University) examined the impact of universal preschool programs in two states — Georgia and Oklahoma — which serve as potential models for President Obama's "Preschool for All" proposal owing to their similarities to the President's proposal.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
(Politico)

One of the biggest backers of President Barack Obama’s ambitious pre-K plan? The business community. Entire companies and high- and mid-level executives are pouring money, time and philanthropic energy into supporting early childhood education for one fundamental reason: It’s just good business. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and more than 200 policymakers and business leaders convened for a summit in Atlanta on Sunday and Monday to rally for the cause. The summit, co-hosted by business and pre-K advocacy group ReadyNation, was the eighth national economic summit the group has participated in.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
(Huffington Post NY (Blog))

High-quality early education programs for low-income children "foster human flourishing and ... improve our economic productivity in the process," as the Nobel-winning economist James Heckman note in a New York Times op-ed last week.  His point? If policymakers want to combat income inequality -- one of the most pressing economic problems of our time -- they would do well to focus not just on whether to "spend or cut" in annual budget showdowns, but to "put money in programs that pay off."New Jersey policymakers know about the power of high-quality preschool. . . . The Garden State has one of the nation's most effective preschool programs that reaches a fair share of the state's poor children.

Monday, September 23, 2013
(The Brattleboro Reformer)

The percentage of New Hampshire children living in poverty rose faster than any other state from 2011 to 2012, knocking the state from its 10-year perch with the nation's lowest child poverty rate, according to census data analyzed by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. The analysis of numbers released last week shows the rate of children younger than 18 living in poverty in New Hampshire rose from 12 percent in 2011 to 15.6 percent last year. Compared to 2007, before the Great Recession, the rate is 75 percent higher. New Hampshire now ranks 11th in child poverty; North Dakota has the lowest rate at 13.15 while Mississippi's rate of 34.69 is the highest.

Monday, September 23, 2013
(Wyoming Tribune-Eagle)

Several Wyoming groups are trying to start a statewide conversation about preschool and students’ access to it....Wyoming Kids First is working to raise the level of conversation about preschool practices across the state. It also hopes to help identify some of the best practices being used.

Monday, September 23, 2013
(ABC News)

For preschoolers, skipping nap time could have a negative impact on their ability to learn.University of Massachusetts Amherst cognitive neuroscientist Rebecca Spencer led a study of 40 preschoolers to tease out the relationship between napping and the ability of these kids to learn something and remember it later.