Volume 12, Issue 24

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hot Topics

Sequestration cutting early education slots. A prolonged federal government shutdown closing Head Start center doors and hurting families. A “state of emergency” in state-funded pre-K as enrollment stagnated and funding fell. It hasn’t been easy to be optimistic about early childhood education in 2013, but increased national attention to the importance of early education gives us something to be thankful for as the year draws to an end. President Obama called for Preschool for All in his high-profile State of the Union address, Hillary Clinton is promoting early childhood development work.  Most recently, the Strong Start for America’s Children Act was introduced by U.S. Reps. George Miller (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and Richard Hanna (R-NY), co-chair of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Caucus, and others. Political campaigns across the country highlighted the importance of investing in quality early childhood education. Take time this holiday to thank the people you know who are involved in promoting quality early childhood education, and discuss this important policy issue with anyone who can make a difference (everyone).

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans hosted a panel discussion this month, highlighting a paper coauthored by NIEER and CEELO staff Megan Carolan and Steve Barnett; and White House staffer David Johns. Panelist Dorothy Strickland, Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Research Fellow at NIEER, represented NIEER, in considering the paper Equity and Excellence: African-American Children’s Access to Quality Preschool, and a report by the National Black Child Development Institute, Being Black Is Not A Risk Factor. #AfAmEdChat recaps some critical elements from the discussion, which was live Tweeted.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

It’s National Picture Book Month, and NIEER’s Shannon Riley-Ayers has blogged about techniques for using picture books to build early literacy from birth to grade 3. We’re also sharing staff favorites and recommendations on Pinterest at NIEER. The list has some great ideas for holiday gifts!

CEELO’s Melissa Dahlin’s blog post on children experiencing homelessness provides a poignant look at how preschool can make a difference for this young population.

NIEER, CEELO, and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans released a paper on Equity and Excellence: African-American Children’s Access to Quality Preschool, at the Department of Education this month, exploring inequities in access to quality preschool, and ways to address disparities. Details available here.


Ounce of Prevention has developed a braided funding stream toolkit, to “provide state advocates and policymakers with strategies, tools, resources and options to make policy choices that facilitate the blending and braiding of funding streams to improve access to and length of children’s participation in full-workday, full-year, high-quality early learning programs that benefit vulnerable young children and working families: available here

Some communities in Wisconsin implemented a community approach to 4-year-old Kindergarten (AKA pre-K), and have shared resources about their experience here.

In response to the newly announced Strong Start for America’s Children Act, the Center for American Progress released a new infographic on the role of early education in closing the school readiness gap. 

This new research brief from CLASP, part of their Charting Progress for Babies in Child care Project, highlights best practices and recommendations for meaningful family engagement in child care settings.

Requires a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Education Policy, Child Development, or Psychology. Earned doctorate strongly preferred. The position is posted here.

This new article from Brookings explores the promise of early childhood development programs to improve health and education for millions of children under five globally.

This new paper from researchers at the Sanford School at Duke University appears in the early online version of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. An previous draft of the paper can also be found on the Sanford School's website.

NIEER Activities

Experts Ron Fairchild, W. Steven Barnett, Michael Rebell, Catherine Snow, Jon Snyder, David Deming and Hank Levin weighed in on the importance of early childhood education programs and improved literacy skills in closing the academic gap evident even at the beginning of Kindergarten, in the Education Funders Research Initiative Education Forum. Each provides a unique perspective on the value of critical strategies and policies for improvement.

NIEER’s Policy Research Coordinator Megan Carolan explores the recent trend of large cities implementing pre-K programs in a new blog for the New America Foundation.

CEELO Update

CEELO hosted a webinar November 25  for early childhood liaisons from the network of 

regional comprehensive centers. These liaisons work closely with individual state education agencies to improve outcomes for learners that span the birth through third grade continuum. The purpose of the Webinar was to strengthen CEELO--RCC relationships and effectiveness in building capacity of SEAs through communication, networking, collaboration, and research-based information dissemination. 

CEELO staff Ashley Cheung and Melissa Dahlin delivered a presentation on CEELO at the 2013 National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference on Friday, November 8th.  The pair provided state and national organization leaders with information on CEELO’s activities and the resources and products accessible on CEELO’s website.  Presentation material will be made available on CEELO’s website soon.    


Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 12:00pm

New York elected officials and aides, education advocates, and foundation representatives will learn more about New Jersey’s high quality preschool program in order to bring that experience back to New York, as both the City and State contemplate the establishment of similar initiatives. The discussion panel will include Dr. W. Steven Barnett, Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University; Cynthia Rice, Senior Policy Analyst at Advocates for Children of NJ (ACNJ); and David Sciarra, Executive Director of Education Law Center (ELC); as well as a preschool educator.

Monday, December 9, 2013 -
8:00am to 3:30pm

Join the foremost experts in the field and prominent local practitioners in a discussion about ways to promote developmental and learning outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse children in Maryland.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 -
12:00pm to 2:00pm

Given states’ difficulties in implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) thoughtfully, many early childhood educators have begun to worry about what the NAEYC refers to as “a downward pressure of increased academic focus and more narrowed instructional approaches.” But, as the NAEYC’s statement on the CCSS also observed, that “threat also provides an opportunity” for early education to exert more positive, “upward pressure” on the K–12 system.

Could the recent attention to the “30 Million Word Gap,” by Hillary ClintonThe New York Times, the Bloomberg Foundation, and others, including the Shanker Institute, represent one such opportunity? Could a focus on oral language development and a systematic, developmentally-appropriate approach to building background knowledge in the early years be the key to moving the nation closer to the goals of the Common Core?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - 8:00am to Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 5:00pm

The Fourth National Summit on Quality in Home Visiting Programs will focus on enhancing quality in home visiting; policy and financing; break-through system changes; adaptations and enhancements to evidence-based models; and more.

Friday, March 14, 2014 - 8:00am to Saturday, March 15, 2014 - 5:00pm

T&L 2014 is where the profession meets to secure the future of PreK-12 education. From the Common Core State Standards to education technology to advancing issues of equity in the classroom, educators from all types of classroom settings will have unique opportunities to share their stories, gain new tools, learn from the nation’s top innovators and get inspired to achieve greatness in their classrooms and communities.

Monday, May 5, 2014 - 8:00am to Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 5:00pm

The National Smart Start Conference is the nation’s largest conference devoted to early education systems and strategies. The conference provides advanced professional development for early education leaders committed to improving the quality of and access to early childhood services for all children ages birth to five.

Early Education News Roundup

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
(Providence Journal)

In what he is calling the “first major policy announcement” of his campaign for governor, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras will unveil a plan Tuesday to make pre-kindergarten and all-day kindergarten programs available to all Rhode Island children. Taveras, a product of the Head Start program in Providence, says his plan is a “roadmap for making Rhode Island a national leader in early childhood education” and also opens a path to economic development, according to a copy provided to the Journal.

Sunday, November 24, 2013
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Three recent studies add to mounting evidence that poverty can exact a lasting toll on a child's mental and physical well-being, with stress representing a key pathway. Those studies focus on poverty's impact on a child's brain volume, the adverse impact of childhood poverty on adult health, and the mental and behavior problems associated with substandard housing. . . . The study underscores the importance of good care-giving in early childhood. Better education and support for parents and preschool programs would "provide high-quality supplementary care-giving and a safe haven to vulnerable young children," she said.

Saturday, November 23, 2013
(The Hechinger Report)

As President Obama pushes for a major national investment in the littlest learners, a glimpse into the power of preschool sits less than a five-minute drive from his Hyde Park home....From a full-day schedule to more stringent educational requirements for teachers to a low staff-student ratio, all of the research-based best practices being pushed in Congress and then some are on display at Educare. The school enrolls 149 children, 98 percent of whom are African-American and all living at or below the poverty line. It is funded through public and private dollars.

Thursday, November 21, 2013
(Fresno Bee)

Childhood education, especially programs aimed at improving literacy in the central San Joaquin Valley, received a $575,000 boost from the Fresno Regional Foundation on Thursday. Leaders of the nonprofit foundation -- which covers six counties from Merced to Kings -- say funding for education is their top priority in divvying up dollars this year from a new multimillion fund. Committee members looked at many Valley issues to address and found that all were rooted in the need to "invest early" in children and their families.

Thursday, November 21, 2013
(Indiana Public Media)

Leaders of all four legislative caucuses say a renewed effort at providing greater access to early childhood education will be one of the top priorities in the upcoming session. Last session, House Republicans pushed a significant preschool pilot program, providing money to send one thousand children to preschool. Senate Republicans dramatically scaled it back, citing concerns about cost. But for the upcoming session, legislative leaders in both parties are renewing the focus on early childhood ed.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
(US News & World Report)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with officials from the People's Republic of China, made the case for investing in early childhood development Wednesday, saying fostering a child's health, nutrition and brain development could also have a significant effect on a country's economy.

Clinton has long been an advocate of early childhood education, and recently teamed up with the nonprofit group Next Generation to start the Too Small to Fail campaign....Clinton told an audience at the Brookings Institution that parents, educators and policymakers need to focus on "issues that may not be in the headlines, but are in the trend lines."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
(The Washington Post (Opinions))

Studies demonstrate that kids who attend high-quality preschool achieve higher test scores, are less likely to go to jail and are more likely to secure good jobs with higher wages. Low-income kids of color, who are the least likely to have access to great preschools, benefit the most.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
(Anchorage Daily News)

The Department of Defense estimates that 75 percent of Americans ages 17 to 24 cannot qualify for military service, many because they are academically unprepared. In Alaska, 28 percent of high school students do not graduate on time and 20 percent of those who do graduate and try to join the Army cannot score well enough on the military's exam to enlist. It is time to turn this ship around and, fortunately, we know what is proven to work. High-quality early childhood education can prepare children to start school ready to learn, can improve student performance over the long-term, and can boost high school graduation rates. Alaska is one of only four states to meet all 10 quality benchmarks for its pre-kindergarten program, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. However, the program only serves 2 percent of 4-year-olds in the state.

Monday, November 18, 2013
(Newsworks (WHYY))

About a hundred school districts in New Jersey now offer only a half-day of kindergarten. But the state is weighing the possibility of changing those programs to a full day. A bill creating a task force to study the feasibility of implementing full-day programs statewide will come up for a vote in the state Senate Monday. . . . Kids learn more in full-day kindergarten, and some children don't go to half-day sessions because that doesn't accommodate their parents' work schedules, said Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers. Barnett said some of the additional costs of full-day programs would be offset by not having to provide separate transportation for half-day students.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Legislation introduced in Congress last week that would expand public preschool could serve as a wake-up call in California to beef up early education programs, advocates here say. A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday introduced the Strong Start for America’s Children Act. The bill follows President Barack Obama’s call earlier this year for a new federal grant program for states wishing to create or expand their public preschool programs. The new legislation, which closely mirrors the president’s proposal, lays out a dozen qualifications state preschool programs must meet or be working toward to be eligible for funding. California’s state-funded preschool program falls short on most of them.

Sunday, November 17, 2013
(Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester))

Stalled efforts in New York and other states to provide universal prekindergarten for 4-year-olds would get a jump-start under a new congressional proposal. The legislation would authorize federal grants to school districts, charter schools, Head Start programs and licensed child care providers to help provide universal access to preschool for 4-year-olds. . . After a decade of significant gains, the percentage of New York 4-year-olds attending pre-K fell from 47 percent in 2010 to 44 percent last year, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.