Volume 2, Issue 9

December 10, 2003

Hot Topics

Talaris Research Institute provides research on early brain and behavioral development, focusing on children from birth to age five. Talaris has recently produced a research-based timeline that can serve as a general guide to the five amazing ways a child grows.
Education Week’s year-end progress report on the states’ efforts to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act is now available. With the results of a survey of 50 states and the District of Columbia, Education Week has data on accountability, testing, performance, and more.
While this public preschool classroom in Brick, New Jersey, is designed for the benefit of special education students, children of typical abilities – selected by lottery –attend as well. In a study to determine the benefits of high-quality preschool on middle-class children, the National Institute for Early Education Research is comparing the children of typical abilities who attend with those who applied but were not selected. You can read more about “reverse mainstreaming” in the article, “Very Special Ed,” by Susan Brenna, which was featured in the November 9, 2003 New York Times supplement, Education Life.

NIEER Activities

Studies have shown the correlation between well-trained early care and education (ECE) teachers and children’s success. Debra J. Ackerman’s NIEER working paper identifies barriers to improving ECE teachers’ qualifications and details initiatives that states are employing to clear those barriers and improve the qualifications of ECE teachers.
At the recent Mid-Atlantic Early Childhood Education Network Forum in Princeton, New Jersey, NIEER Director Steve Barnett explained the costs and benefits of high-quality preschool for disadvantaged and middle-class children and explored the existing and emerging strategies for financing early education. You can view Dr. Barnett's power point presentation on the NIEER web site.
Can preschool cure bullies? How does teacher pay affect pre-K quality? You can learn about these and other early education issues in the October/November issue of NIEER’s Preschool Matters newsletter, now available on the NIEER web site.

Calendar

January 26, 2004 - January 28, 2004
Greensboro, NC – Join Smart Start partners, board members, volunteers, and others for this three-day conference featuring more than 150 workshops about early childhood initiatives across the nation.
February 4, 2004 - February 7, 2004
Albuquerque, NM – The National Association for Bilingual Education’s annual conference on the education of linguistically and culturally diverse students.
February 9, 2004 - February 12, 2004
Baltimore, MD –The 8th Annual Birth to Three Institute offers participants the opportunity to learn from peers and professionals in the infant/family field.
February 25, 2004 - February 28, 2004
Washington, DC – Join practitioners, policy makers, researchers, and corporate leaders at the annual symposium of the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies.

Early Education News Roundup

December 10, 2003
Orlando Sentinel
Florida's "universal" pre-kindergarten program won't begin for two years, but public school officials already fear it will be run on the cheap.
December 10, 2003
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA
[P]redictions of a budget shortfall next year of at least $300 million in the $17 billion state budget, and possibly much more, have put the state's first statewide preschool program and other services up in the air. The classes, called LA4, are designed to help children from poor families get the educational and social skills they need to do well in school.
December 9, 2003
The Reporter, Lansdale, PA
More and more research shows that children can pick up languages faster the younger they are because of the brain's activity. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics‚ the best time to learn new languages is relatively early in life when billions of brain cells are connecting with each other‚ connections created by sensory input such as the sounds of a language.
December 8, 2003
The Washington Times
Federal rules for Head Start require that the $6.7 billion program have full -- 100 percent -- enrollment, and last year there were 912,000 low-income children enrolled in 2,500 Head Start centers. However, there are persistent reports that many Head Start centers are "underenrolled," Democrat Reps. George Miller and Adam B. Schiff of California and Dale E. Kildee of Michigan told the General Accounting Office (GAO).
December 6, 2003
The Plain Dealer
As nasty as the battle over Head Start grew this summer, it has grown even more heated as winter approaches. Without a doubt, the federal government should strengthen its oversight of Head Start spending, but individual transgressions should not pull politicians' - or the public's - attention from the need to pass this long-delayed measure, and to ensure that the budget allocations match the program's even loftier aims.
December 3, 2003
Tallahassee Democrat
Approved by voters in 2002 as a constitutional amendment, universal pre-kindergarten will cost an estimated $262 million a year if the expected two-thirds of families use the voluntary program. An advisory council chaired by Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings and the State Board of Education has offered recommendations on implementing pre-kindergarten, including funding a four-hour school day, requiring tougher credentials for pre-kindergarten teachers and designating a separate Department of Education chancellor to oversee the effort.
December 3, 2003
U.S. Newswire
The report, State Funded Pre-Kindergarten Programs: What the Evidence Shows, shows that while there is great variation across states, most state-funded pre-kindergarten programs meet widely accepted and research-based quality standards, offer key expanded services to meet children's health and nutrition needs, and use a range of strategies to involve parents in their children's education. The report found that states are seeking to eliminate barriers to coordination and make even greater strides toward integrating pre-kindergarten, child care, Head Start and targeted programs, such as health, safety, and nutrition, into comprehensive early childhood systems.
December 1, 2003
The Hartford Courant
Far from abdicating federal oversight of the program, under the president's plan, the federal government would have the responsibility to ensure that states operating under the state option continue to serve at least as many Head Start-eligible children with Head Start funds as are currently enrolled; to develop and implement standards that meet or exceed current Head Start standards; to maintain existing state funding for preschool programs; and to provide comprehensive services - including health, parental and social services - to children supported with Head Start funds. By allowing states the flexibility to coordinate Head Start with state-run preschool programs, and by ensuring program quality, more economically disadvantaged children will be given the opportunity to arrive at school healthy and ready to learn.
December 1, 2003
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Many Pennsylvania senators seem to be baffled over why Gov. Rendell is so stuck on preschool and other early-childhood initiatives. He is stuck on them because research through the years has shown them to work.
November 30, 2003
The Daily News, Galveston, TX
High-quality early childhood education programs can reduce welfare dependence, school dropout rates, and crime, in some cases. Some researchers, who have tracked students from high-quality preschool experiments even promise that for every $1 spent on early childhood intervention programs, society gets in some cases as high as $7 in return as participants of such programs grow up to avoid welfare or prison.
November 26, 2003
Education Week
Racial and ethnic achievement gaps in American education have deep roots that extend far beyond the schoolhouse, a report released last week concludes. As toddlers, the statistics suggest, black and Hispanic children are apt to be read to less often than their white peers or to have just one parent at home.
November 25, 2003
The Toronto Star
While high-quality child care must be accessible for all children — not only low-income children — it is an essential cornerstone of a strategy to reduce poverty. Early childhood education enhances children's well-being and development; strengthens the foundation for lifelong learning; supports parents in education, training, and employment; and promotes equal opportunities for women in the labour market.
November 20, 2003
The Day, New London, CT
The state Department of Education has begun a major initiative to end this supply-and-demand mismatch with a gradual expansion of state-funded preschool programs over the next decade. It plans to introduce legislation in the upcoming session of the General Assembly to move toward making sure all children have access to preschool.
November 19, 2003
The Arizona Republic
A group of political and business leaders unveiled a plan Tuesday that would significantly increase spending for early-childhood care and education programs in the hope that Arizona can climb from the bottom of the education heap. It recommends that the state pay for parent-education programs, finance full-day kindergarten, offer financial and educational incentives to child-care workers, and provide health checkups for Arizona's children.
November 18, 2003
Daily Camera, Boulder, CO
Colorado is the first state to discuss the elimination of the senior year to replace it with preschool, said Jennifer Dounay, a policy analyst for the Denver-based Education Commission of the States. Sen. Dave Owen, R-Greeley, said he did not think seniors learned a lot and noted that studies show children can benefit more from preschool classes at an age when they can absorb ideas quickly.
November 13, 2003
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
No Child Left Behind says plainly: If you accept federal education funds, you must demonstrate progress in eliminating these achievement gaps. No Child Left Behind doesn't punish struggling schools; it calls for extra help that can take the form of anything from additional funding to technical assistance.
November 11, 2003
The Washington Post
The No Child Left Behind Act, in its second year, is the most ambitious federal effort to raise achievement in public schools in 38 years. It is also one of the most complicated education laws passed by Congress, leading to a host of myths and misinterpretations.
November 10, 2003
The Hartford Courant
[U.S. Senator Christopher J.] Dodd's response to the House bill backed by the Bush administration was a version passed by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. It maintains Head Start as a federal program, while retaining the best of the House measure, such as strengthening teacher requirements and academic standards.

Resources

This Education Law Center report, prepared by researchers Erain Applewhite and Lesley Hirsch, documents the progress already made and difficulties faced by New Jersey as it works toward the goal of providing preschool to all children in high-poverty communities.
The National Center for Children in Poverty’s fourth brief in this series looks at the well being of children from all incomes and race-ethnicity groups with important implications on the debate surrounding the reauthorization of Head Start.
The National Center for Learning Disabilities has developed the LD Advocates Guide, which provides information on how to engage the media and policymakers on issues affecting children and adults with learning disabilities.