Volume 12, Issue 8

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hot Topics

Anticipation in the early education world has been growing since February’s State of the Union address when President Obama called for increased federal investment in preschool. The President’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2014 was released last week along with significant details on the plan. As covered in more detail on the Preschool Matters...Today! blog, the plan calls for $75 billion over 10 years in federal spending derived from an increase in the tobacco tax and with a plan for state matching funds.

States must meet a number of quality standards to be eligible for funds from the Department of Education, which estimates that 15 states would be eligible in the first year, with all states expected to qualify by Year 3. Joy Resmovits at The Huffington Post explores how participation in the plan could vary by state, while Laura Bornfreund at the New America Foundation examines how many states could actually qualify.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sets out the rationale for the president’s proposed plan in his op-ed in The Washington Post, and NIEER Director Steve Barnett discusses the politics of this investment in education at the National Journal’s Education Experts blog. In addition to this proposal, several early education bills have been introduced in Congress already.

Last week, ChildCare Aware (formerly the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies) released its 2013 update to We Can Do Better, a review of state child care regulations and oversight. The report reviews state policies for child care and grades them on a number of benchmarks, including site visits, education and training requirements, and background checks. The importance of such safeguards are explored in Jonathan Cohn’s harrowing piece at The New Republic as well as in an interview with the The Washington Post’s WonkBlog, which delves further into the politics of early care and education in America. Clare McCann at the New America Foundation explores the most troubling of these statistics and what they mean for the state of American child care.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

NIEER Director Steve Barnett opines on how the president’s proposal to tax tobacco products for preschool education funding might play out.

NIEER Policy Research Coordinator Megan Carolan and Director Steve Barnett write about the early childhood education initiatives covered in the federal budget, with a focus on the newly proposed funding for expanding state preschool programs.


This resource from the American Red Cross and FEMA provides suggestions for parents and caregivers helping children after stressful or traumatic events. Versions of this resource in language other than English are also available. Additional resources for helping children deal with tragedies were included in a previous edition of this newsletter.

This report from the U.S. Census Bureau uses the Census data to paint a picture of the current state of child care options used by parents.

This research brief from the Center for Law and Social Policy and the Zero to Three Policy Center provides background information on child care services for children ages zero to three and describes the “Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care” research project.

New on nieer.org

As the United States works to reclaim economic prosperity, the Hispanic population – with the largest growth in population over the last decade – will likely play a key role in any economic resurgence.  Educational success is a crucial part of economic recovery.  While statistics on the educational success of Hispanic children are hardly encouraging, high-quality early education programs, especially models that promote language proficiency, have the potential to increase their educational success.  NIEER's latest policy brief addresses issues of preschool access and quality that are specific to Hispanic children but which can also apply to some other largely disadvantaged and immigrant groups.

NIEER Activities

The State of Preschool 2012: State Preschool Yearbook, our annual report ranking all 50 states on preschool access, funding, and quality standards, will be released soon! On the release date of April 29, we will be holding a press conference in Washington, D.C., featuring NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, and Chairman Emeritus of Vanguard Group Jack Brennan as speakers. Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter pages for all the updates of this event and the latest Yearbook data. Feel free to join the conversation on either platform (using the hashtag #prekYB on Twitter).

In addition, we’ll be holding a Congressional briefing the following day, April 30. Speakers at that event will include Dr. Barnett, Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution, and Roberto Rodriguez, who serves on the White House Domestic Policy Council as Special Assistant to the President for Education. This panel of speakers will be moderated by First Focus President Bruce Lesley.

CEELO Update

CEELO logoCEELO supported the Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction’s Read Wisconsin launch of the “Literacy (un) Conference.” The online professional learning reading resource portal and community of practice for K-3 literacy leaders includes pre-recorded sessions as well as resources and live chats with national and state experts on standards-based instruction and professional learning and collaboration. CEELO recorded presentations by Dr. Susan B. Neuman, Professor of Educational Studies at the University of Michigan, and Dr. Shannon Riley-Ayers, Assistant Research Professor at NIEER.  Materials for all speakers are available online.

As the Obama administration’s early learning proposal makes headlines around the nation, so have questions around access, workforce, quality, accountability, and other issues in early learning. The Pre-K Debates: Current Controversies and Issues, edited by Edward Zigler, Walter S. Gilliam, and W. Steven Barnett, provides readers with point-counterpoint arguments around today’s most urgent pre-K debates. Join CEELO and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS-SDE) for a lively Reading Corner discussion of The Pre-K Debates on May 20 from 3:30–5 p.m. ET.

The Reading Corner is a project of the NAECS-SDE in which state specialists and guests read literature pertinent to their work in early childhood development and education, contribute comments on periodicals and shorter readings, and gather in web conferences for facilitated discussions of recently published books. This Reading Corner will be held in partnership with CEELO, and registration is now open.


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.

Saturday, April 27, 2013 to Wednesday, May 1, 2013

San Francisco, CA - This conference will feature innovative sessions to discuss educational issues, particularly as they relate to poverty.

Sunday, April 28, 2013 to Tuesday, April 30, 2013

National Harbor, MD - At this conference, attendees will examine how data can be used to improve program quality and services.

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.

Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 8:30am

Ellicott City, MD - This symposium will feature speakers Michael Levine and Lisa Guernsey as part of a larger question about the role of digital learning in young children's education and development.

Monday, May 13, 2013 to Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chapel Hill, NC - This conference will examine services for children with special needs in inclusive early childhood education classrooms.

May 14, 2013 - 2:00pm

Washington, DC - At this event, participants will learn about policy and research related to dual language learners in early childhood education and care programs.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 to Thursday, June 27, 2013

For the first time, the Birth to Three institute will be offered as a virtual professional development experience rather than a physical conference.

Sunday, June 9, 2013 to Wednesday, June 12, 2013

San Francisco, CA - This conference will focus on examining developmentally appropriate practices in the context of early childhood education and care programs.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 to Thursday, June 27, 2013

St. Louis, MO - This conference will feature panels and presentations from renowned experts to examine educational research and policy.

Early Education News Roundup

Thursday, April 18, 2013
(The Washington Post)

Parents, teachers and principals nationwide agree that we need to do more to ensure that children from disadvantaged families begin kindergarten at the same educational starting line as do children from better-off families. The president’s plan includes a cost-sharing arrangement with states, with the entire federal investment of $75 billion covered by a new cigarette tax, and with incentives for states to make programs available for even more middle-class families.

Thursday, April 18, 2013
(Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, Howell, MI)

In support of [Gov. Rick Snyder’s] proposed budget, local law enforcement leaders unveiled Monday a new report from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Michigan, which touted the importance of high-quality early childhood educational programs to set children on a long-term path to success.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
(The Mississippi Press blog)

[Mississippi Gov. Phil] Bryant signed a separate bill creating state-funded prekindergarten classes Tuesday.

Sunday, April 14, 2013
(Albuquerque Journal)

New Mexico will spend about $31 million in new money over the coming year to expand early childhood education programs such as preschool classes and in-home visiting for new parents.

Sunday, April 14, 2013
(The Garden Island, Lihue, Hawaii)

The initiative calls for convenient and affordable access to quality preschool programs, using a sliding fee scale and would be free to low-income families. It would also be diverse by contracting a mix of public, private, nonprofit and faith-based providers.

Saturday, April 13, 2013
(Williston Herald, Williston, ND)

The bill would provide $2.6 million in funding for early childhood programs and would cap districts at $100,000 annually, with the funding coming from the Department of Public Instruction.

Thursday, April 11, 2013
(Wonkblog at The Washington Post)

In its 2014 budget, the White House is proposing to spend $66 billion over the next 10 years on universal preschool. This would be paid for by increasing the federal tax on cigarettes to $1.95 a pack, which will raise $78 billion over 10 years.  That sounds politically appealing, but it’s also probably not sustainable in the long run.

Thursday, April 11, 2013
(The Patriot Ledger, Quincy, MA)

The proposal calls for a $109 million increase in funding for elementary and secondary schools, a $20 million increase for community colleges and a $39 million increase for the University of Massachusetts system.  It does not include funding for Gov. Deval Patrick’s preschool plan, however.

Thursday, April 11, 2013
(WRKF 89.3, Baton Rouge, LA)

Students who attended LA 4, Louisiana’s state run pre-school program for 4-year-olds, were more likely to reach eighth grade on time and fewer were placed in special education.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

In touting his push for “preschool for all,” Obama says a dollar spent on high-quality preschool is an investment that returns $7 for every dollar spent. Advocates say the savings come as the children go on to succeed in school, get good jobs and pay taxes, rather than ending up in low-paying jobs, on public assistance or in jail.