Volume 3, Issue 1

January 9, 2004

Hot Topics

In this Op-Ed, NIEER Director Steve Barnett comments on recent reports of aggressive behavior of students – not in high school or even middle school, but in kindergarten – and offers that "the preschool years offer the optimal time to teach children how to control their own impulses … As this country moves to adopt the systems of early education that will likely be in place throughout the 21st century, we must demand high-quality preschools equipped with preschool teachers who have the knowledge and training to provide young children with a quality education - one that balances academic development with emotional and social development." Read more
The National Governors Association recently hosted a conference on quality preschool. At the conference, NIEER Director Steve Barnett pointed to the research that shows that children who attend quality preschool do better in school and go on to lead more productive lives than those who don’t. Top-notch programs are key to closing the achievement gap and boosting the performance of poor children, he said.

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

January 2, 2004
Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH
Gov. Bob Taft's Head Start Plus program would provide all-day, year-round day care for 10,000 children from working-poor families. Instead of providing some social services, a caseworker for every 33 families would help refer parents to outside agencies.
December 27, 2003
Omaha World-Herald
The preschool years offer the optimal time to teach children how to control their impulses. Along with language and motor skills, young children in their first five years learn social and emotional patterns that stick with them for life.
December 24, 2003
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The new budget is a rather plain version of its former fancy self: The original three-year proposal included a "distinguished educator" program, full-day kindergarten for everyone, and preschool for 127 low-income districts. Those programs were ambitious -- at least for Pennsylvania, which has been criticized by educators and advocates as one of only nine states in the country that provides no state funding for pre-kindergarten.
December 18, 2003
The Sacramento Bee
Advocates and policymakers [in California] hope to create a funding mechanism that over the next five to 10 years would provide for voluntary, free preschool that should be as accessible as kindergarten is today. Reform proponents believe early learning will boost achievement later in students' schooling and ultimately lead to more successful adults.
December 16, 2003
Orlando Sentinel
Florida can't afford to hire teachers with college degrees for its new pre-kindergarten program but still expects the classes to improve academic achievement, particularly among poor children who usually struggle, Gov. Jeb Bush said Monday. States need "top-notch programs," perhaps ones that cost as much as public school kindergarten, if they want to close the achievement gap and boost the performance of poor children, said Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.
December 16, 2003
The Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN
Reducing bad behavior from the start could do wonders toward improving overall achievement. And studies in Chicago, Pittsburgh and North Carolina show that quality early care improves grade testing, reduces grade retention and special education, and increases high school graduation and likelihood of attending college.
December 14, 2003
Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN
A recent survey by the Minnesota Department of Education found that fewer than half of the state's kindergarten students arrived proficient, for their age, in math, literacy or social development. Steven Barnett, an early-childhood scholar at Rutgers University, says that even among middle-class kids, one in five will repeat a grade before they finish school and one in 10 will drop out.
December 14, 2003
The New York Times
A study by the foundation Dr. Weikart founded, High/Scope Educational Research Foundation in Ypsilanti, Mich., has played a large role in debates about Head Start and other early childhood programs for a generation. In 1962, in what was known as the Perry Preschool Project, Dr. Weikart took 123 low-income 3- and 4-year-olds and placed 58 in a preschool with highly trained, well-paid teachers who made weekly visits to parents.
December 14, 2003
USA Today
I might seem passé, but I believe that the loss of creative thinking and play is a serious casualty of our modern times. Parents need to remember that the whole world is a virtual classroom and that play equals learning.
December 14, 2003
The Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN
Beginning in the 2005 school year, Florida will become the second state in America to offer voluntary, high-quality prekindergarten to every 4-year-old. Do this right, and we will have children who perform far better in grade-school testing and, indeed, life.
December 14, 2003
The Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN
The benefits are real, however, when funds are invested in early childhood development (ECD). Research shows that such programs can yield extraordinary economic returns.
December 13, 2003
Ravalli Republic, Hamilton, MT
Society is beginning to understand the link between early education and future academic success. A growing body of research shows that poor and minority children who attend high-quality preschool are better prepared for kindergarten, achieve higher test scores and graduation rates and are more likely to enroll in college.
December 11, 2003
The Providence Journal
Preschool teachers ($21,907): Day-care workers ($19,900) are notoriously underpaid, but the real dishonor is paid to the preschool teachers who lead our 3- and 4-year-olds in ABCs and 1-2-3s in our vast dual-income absence. Birth to age 5 are critical years in the development of a child's personality and intelligence, yet we pay these people little more than we fork out for a babysitter on a Saturday night.

Resources

In this eighth annual state-by-state report on public education from Education Week, you can find out what the states are doing to test special education students, prepare teachers to educate such students, and pay for special education services.
In this policy brief from Child Trends, authors Richard Wertheimer, Ph.D. Tara Croan, Kristin Anderson Moore, Ph.D., and Elizabeth C. Hair, Ph.D. present analyses of a 1998-99 survey of kindergarten students. The brief provides estimates of the number of kindergarten children lagging behind in three areas of potential vulnerability: health, cognitive achievement, and social and emotional development.