Volume 12, Issue 3

Friday, February 8, 2013

Hot Topics

In our last edition, we discussed eight governors making plans to move forward with funding early childhood education programs. This edition we highlight governors in six other states who have mentioned new plans. The biggest financial commitment comes from Ohio’s Governor John Kasich who proposed early childhood education funding in his budget amounting to $180 million two years. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper noted the importance of early childhood education in his State of the State address and suggested the state expand access to preschool and kindergarten education for an additional 6,500 children, but offered no specifics on funding. Governor Dannel Malloy of Connecticut promised in his State of the State speech that “we’ll do more” for the future and soon afterwards put forth a proposal to establish an Office of Early Childhood Planning to oversee the various state initiatives, with funding for the new agency included in the biennial budget. In Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton’s budget proposal includes $44 million for two year’s worth of scholarships for preschool-age children from low-income families to attend early childhood education programs. The proposed budget also offers $20 million for child care programs and $40 million for all-day kindergarten programs. In his State of the State address, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett called for a $6.4 million increase for the state’s Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance programs to provide services to an additional 3,200 children and their families. In Vermont, Governor Peter Shumlin’s second inaugural address acknowledged that education “is the state’s greatest economic development tool” and “it is long past time for us to put our money where our mouths have been.” Shumlin went to on to call for Vermont to “strengthen our commitment to universal early childhood education,” specifically by proposing a redirection of $17 million in funding from the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit to child care. The governor also stated that Vermont will continue to move forward with expanding access to state-funded preschool education, providing additional funding for start-up expenses.

Connecticut isn’t the only state to restructure state level administration of preschool programs. Maine’s Departments of Education and of Health and Human Services will work together to help prepare preschoolers to be school ready. Specifically, the two agencies will establish a new State Agency Interdepartmental Early Learning Team or SAIEL, to streamline and coordinate services for children from birth to age 5. More details on SAIEL are available from the Maine Department of Education’s website.

Mississippi, long one of the hold-out states on preschool education, is moving ahead toward establishing a state-funded pre-K.  As reported by The Associated Press, committees in both houses of the Mississippi Legislature approved proposals to introduce a pre-K program for 4-year-olds in the state, using public-private partnerships and local matching funds. However, the two proposals differ on initial funding.  The House allocates $2 million to enroll 1,000 children; the Senate advanced $6 million for 3,500 children. The two committees also offered different approaches to funding.  The House plan calls for private donations matched with tax credits, while the Senate would use general revenue. These proposals will now move out of committee and to the full chambers for approval. Both Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and House Speaker Phillip Gunn have voiced support for state-funded pre-K and Governor Phil Bryant issued a statement with his support.

In another hold-out state, Hawaii’s Legislature is making strides to expand access to preschool education. Committees in both the state Senate and House passed measures to introduce an amendment, which would make it constitutional to spend public dollars on privately run preschools. Honolulu’s Civil Beat has more details on the proposed amendment and pre-K program.

In a recent study, two researchers from the University of Pittsburgh examined data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) to determine correlations between geographic areas and school readiness. They found that children from rural towns and large cities lagged behind their peers from suburban towns and smaller cities at kindergarten entry. The authors surmised that these results are due to parents in large cities being less knowledgeable about child development while children in rural areas are less likely to attend center-based early childhood education and care programs. As the 10 states without state-funded pre-K are largely those in rural areas, this latter point strengthens NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett’s call that “states in the Mountain West and Upper Midwest with predominantly rural populations need to find a way to provide access to high-quality pre-K.”

Some past studies have found that children who attended child care displayed more problematic behaviors such as aggression later on. But a new study out of Norway found no such link. The researchers report that when they applied statistical methods commonly used in past studies they obtained negative results similar to those in of the past. However, when they compared siblings who spent different amounts of time in center-based care no differences were found in behaviors. Researchers suggested that child care policy in Norway might also have contributed to the differences in findings.  Study co-author Eric Dearing said in a press release, “Norway takes a very different approach to child care than we do in the United States and that may play a role in our findings.” He went on to explain Norwegian policies that could be factors -- specifically that generous parental leave means many children do not attend child care centers until they are 1-year-olds and that child care centers are required to meet national standards and regulations. In the U.S., as NIEER’s W. Steven Barnett has said in the past, child care is sometimes “so poor that it may actually harm child development.”

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

In this blog post, NIEER researchers offer up guiding principles for federal policy initiatives aimed at expanding the access, funding, and quality of preschool education programs.

Resources

This research brief from First 5 LA and Mathematica Policy Research looks at strategies designed for teaching and supporting English language learners in preschool settings.

This webpage from the federal Office of Head Start offers advocates and providers a variety of resources for supporting homeless children and families through early childhood education and care services.

This paper from Illinois Action for Children reports findings from the organization’s survey of the child care options of single parents in the Chicago area who work nonstandard hours; the authors also provide policy recommendations.

This online database from the Education Commission of the States (ECS) provides information on state kindergarten policies including age of compulsory school attendance, required schedules for kindergarten, and kindergarten assessments.

This report from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) provides a look at all 50 states and D.C. in regards to their financial security and future outlook. Education is a key component of a state’s current finances and its opportunities for growth, so CFED includes data points covering pre-K through college in their assessments and rankings of states.

NIEER Activities

CEELO logoOn January 31, CEELO Senior Director Lori Connors-Tadros and Co-Director Jana Martella presented to the Child Care Technical Assistance Network “All-Hands” meeting. Convened by the Office of Child Care of the Administration for Children and Families within the Department of Health and Human Services, the meeting featured a presentation from the Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) technical assistance project. Network participants were also asked to consider the possible benefits of technical assistance and how TA needs could be best met in collaboration with multiple TA providers across sectors. These activities were followed by Dr. Connors-Tadros and Ms. Martella’s presentation, which focused on CEELO’s goals and objectives and activities. They also discussed the intersections of CEELO’s work with RTT-ELC technical assistance to states. Meeting materials, including the presentations, are available here.

Thomas Schultz, CEELO Senior Scientist and Program Director at the Council of Chief State School Officers, presented to the Ohio Third Grade Reading Guarantee early childhood work group on January 7. The presentation focused on third grade reading success, highlighting evidence of disparities and gaps between low- and high-risk students and providing evidence on why grade level reading is important. Dr. Schultz presented four strategies to improve third grade reading success: convince parents and early childhood teachers that there’s an urgent problem, invest in high-quality early childhood programs, reduce chronic absenteeism, and combat summer learning loss.  He also listed five areas where states should provide technical assistance: accountability, data collection, support for districts, reporting, and research.

Calendar

Saturday, February 9, 2013 to Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Washington, DC - This conference will feature a plethora of sessions covering a wide breadth of issues related to maternal and child health programs.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 2:00pm

At this webinar, participants will learn about using collaborative data systems in early childhood education to support collecting information from a variety of programs and agencies.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 to Thursday, February 14, 2013

Washington, DC - This conference is designed for attendees to share latest research on and best practices for home-visiting services.

Friday, March 1, 2013 to Saturday, March 2, 2013

Denver, CO - This conference will explore a variety of issues related to early childhood education and care.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 to Friday, March 15, 2013

San Diego, CA - This conference is designed to explore best practices and issues related to inclusive classrooms.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 to Saturday, March 23, 2013

Clearwater, FL - At this conference, attendees will participate in workshops providing information on best practices for supporting children's social-emotional development.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 to Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Gloucester, England - This conference aims to explore the philosophical tenets of play as well as building a bridge to practices in play.

Friday, April 12, 2013 - 8:00am

Somerset, NJ - This one-day conference offers participants an opportunity to hear from national literacy experts and authors of noted children's books.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 to Friday, April 19, 2013

New York, NY - The 10th annual Young Child Expo & Conference will bring together early childhood professionals and parents to learn the latest information about early childhood development.

Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 2:00pm

This webinar will examine research on young children's social-emotional development and how it is related to kindergarten readiness and success in school.

Monday, April 29, 2013 to Thursday, May 2, 2013

Greensboro, NC - At this conference, early childhood leaders will learn and share strategies for accelerating outcomes for children, families and communities.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 to Friday, May 3, 2013

Washington, DC - This early childhood education conference offers hundreds of presentations and exhibits to the tens of thousands of educators that attend.

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, February 7, 2013
(The Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA)

State officials Wednesday announced that they are soliciting bids from school districts and others for pilot projects to overhaul pre-kindergarten classes in Louisiana.  The changes stem from a 2012 state law, which assigned details of the do-over to the state Department of Education and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Thursday, February 7, 2013
(WNCT TV, Greenville, NC)

The bill that passed Thursday would allow local groups to set up cooperative efforts involving public schools, Head Start programs, private child care centers or nonprofit groups. The groups would apply for state grants, putting in an equal amount of local money.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
(Brattleboro Reformer, Brattleboro, VT)

As part of what he calls "a very ambitious education agenda," Gov. Peter Shumlin wants to boost child-care subsidies for lower-income families.  But he is taking flak for his proposal to fund that idea: Shumlin wants to "redirect" $16.7 million in state money that's now spent on an earned-income tax credit for low-income residents.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
(Early Years blog at Education Week)

This study is the latest report on a group of more than 1,100 families who have been monitored since 2000, and focuses on 1st-grade school records of the children. Among the results: Children in the home-visited group were half as likely to repeat a grade as children who did not receive home visits (3.54 percent compared to 7.10 percent).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013
(The Baltimore Sun)

Two Baltimore city lawmakers have proposed legislation that would draw funding from the state's lottery revenue to support expanding early childhood education programs.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
(KXAN TV, Austin, TX)

Even though a judge called the school funding system 'unconstitutional' Monday, it could be another year or two before the Texas Supreme Court decides if the system is broken.  Some educators are urging lawmakers to act now and restore the money they cut last session to programs like full day pre-kindergarten.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
(The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, WA)

The experience of the Cheney School District shows the value of broad access to high-quality preschool. Its kindergartners scored above average in the assessment, and they all have access to tuition-based preschool with certificated teachers. The district also has classes for parents who want to become better educators at home.

Monday, February 4, 2013
(Hartford Courant)

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Monday proposed a new state agency – the Office of Early Childhood – combining programs now located in five different state agencies, but adding $370,000 in new state spending.

Saturday, February 2, 2013
(The Cincinnati Enquirer)

But the new state money, along with governor’s vocal support (local advocates say they were thrilled simply to hear him say the words “early childhood education” over and over in public), can be a shift toward wiser, deeper, more sustainable education policy and reform. In fact, the boost for early childhood may be the most business-like thing this business-minded governor has done in education.

Friday, February 1, 2013
(Tuscaloosa Magazine, Tuscaloosa, AL)

Pre-K, which is for 4-year-olds, and kindergarten are not mandatory in Alabama. Parents and guardians have the option of enrolling their children.  While kindergarten is available to all who want it, pre-K is not. The demand for pre-K education exceeds what’s available.

Thursday, January 31, 2013
(The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS)

The legislation would provide $8 million in matching funds next year to early childhood education programs through school districts, private and parochial schools, private child care centers and Head Start.

Thursday, January 31, 2013
(Bangor Daily News)

The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have joined in an effort to improve early childhood education programs in the state despite the rejection of the concept in 2011 as part of an unsuccessful federal grant application.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
(Columbia Missourian)

A new body of research shows that the social and emotional skills that children gain, or don't gain, before they enter kindergarten has a profound effect on their life trajectory — academically, economically and socially.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
(The Answer Sheet blog at The Washington Post)

We reviewed the makeup of the committees that wrote and reviewed the Common Core Standards. In all, there were 135 people on those panels. Not a single one of them was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional.  It appears that early childhood teachers and child development experts were excluded from the K-3 standards-writing process.

Monday, January 28, 2013
(Akron Beacon Journal)

In Ohio, every dollar spent on early childhood yields a 10 percent return on investment every year, said state officials applying for a federal grant in 2011. Upfront costs reduce bigger costs downstream. Put up the effort and money for effective early education, and you narrow the skills and achievement gaps and reduce the need for remediation, retention and dropout programs later. You lower the social and economic costs of high rates of adult illiteracy, joblessness, incarceration and poverty.

Sunday, January 27, 2013
(Twin Cities Daily Planet, Minneapolis, MN)

Buried in Gov. Mark Dayton $37.9 billion proposed budget is a creative idea to improve the lives of the state’s most educationally vulnerable children: state-funded scholarships for preschoolers from low-income families.

Sunday, January 27, 2013
(The Detroit News)

Not all preschool programs are created equal. The state must ensure taxpayer dollars are only going to the best ones. Michigan's Great Start Readiness Program has a solid track record. It began with small, pilot programs in 1985 and has continued to grow.

Thursday, January 24, 2013
(The New York Times)

Something is profoundly wrong when we can point to 2-year-olds in this country and make a plausible bet about their long-term outcomes — not based on their brains and capabilities, but on their ZIP codes. But randomized trials and long-term data give us a better sense of what works — and, for the most part, it’s what we’re not doing, like improved education, starting with early childhood programs for low-income families.