Volume 4, Issue 10

June 13, 2005

Hot Topics

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children & Families (ACF) has released Head Start Impact Study: First Year Findings. According the HHS press release, the study found that Head Start produced "small to moderate impacts in areas such as pre-reading, pre-writing, vocabulary and in health and parent practice domains." The study found that these impacts were insufficient to close the gap between low-income children in the Head Start program and the general population of 3- and 4-year olds. The program showed more benefit for 3-year-olds than 4-year-olds. While the results were less than many educators had hoped for, Jason Hustedt, lead researcher for NIEER's "State of Preschool Yearbook," says it's important to keep in mind that Head Start serves children from challenging environments. "It's encouraging to see that first-year results from this study show positive impacts across a range of domains," he says. More results about Head Start's impact will be released in future reports. The report is available at the ACF web site.
While Florida's new voluntary universal prekindergarten program has had its hands full finding classrooms and teachers to meet demand, a sleeper church/state court challenge has gathered momentum and could wreck the system in place for qualifying providers and distributing funds. At issue is the state's voucher system of funding the program and 39 words written into the state constitution 120 years ago that prohibit spending public funds "directly or indirectly in aid of" religious institutions. Groups like teachers unions and the American Civil Liberties Union have taken the state to court on the basis that the voucher system, used to pay faith-based institutions for a variety of programs, violates the "no-aid" wording and is therefore unconstitutional. The Florida Supreme Court has heard arguments and their decision is pending. The plaintiffs have won in other courts. It is anticipated that many providers in the UPK program will be faith-based schools.
Researchers at the University of Maryland analyzed 1,176 articles in 25 newspapers and found a pervasive pattern of coverage that is shallow and "only occasionally concerned with teaching and learning." Richard Lee Colvin, former education reporter at the Los Angeles Times and director of the Hechinger Institute, which funded the study, says pre-K involves a range of difficult issues like quality, accountability, and accessibility but that journalists often don't probe them. The report, An Analysis of U. S. Newspaper Coverage of Early Childhood Education, said that in cities comprising its case studies, 40 percent of the stories on pre-K dealt with governance, 40 percent with funding and only 10 percent dealt with issues directly related to education.
Two years after the international tutoring company Kumon launched Junior Kumon for 2- to 5-year-olds, the company reports nearly 20 percent of its U.S. reading students and 10 percent of its math students are preschoolers. Joining Kumon in the pre-K tutoring market this January was Sylvan Learning Centers, which launched its Beginning Reading program. Long-time pre-K market player Kaplan, Inc. says its Score! program has doubled its student count to 82,000 nationally in the last 5 years.

Calendar

June 21, 2005 - June 24, 2005
Washington, DC - This annual training event provides participants with the opportunity to learn about exemplary work in the infant and family field.
July 7, 2005 - July 8, 2005
Aurora, CO – This workshop provides an introduction to the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) Scaffolding Early Literacy professional development program and a brief overview of the Early Literacy Advisor™, a computerized, diagnostic assessment system.
July 12, 2005 - July 15, 2005
Denver, CO - This conference provides educational leaders with the opportunity to network and discuss leading issues affecting education policy with their colleagues.
July 18, 2005 - July 20, 2005
New Haven, CT – This conference focuses on how to strengthen the connections among communities, families and schools.
July 27, 2005 - July 30, 2005
Denver, CO – The theme of the conference is "Taking Family Child Care to New Heights: Strengthening Curriculum, Community, and Culture."

Early Education News Roundup

June 10, 2005
The Record, Bergen County, NJ
Most New Jersey voters support boosting state funds for preschool programs so that all 4-year-olds could attend.
June 8, 2005
The Albuquerque Tribune
The demand for money and classroom slots in New Mexico's new preschool program far exceeds what's available.
June 7, 2005
The Des Moines Register
Legislation signed Monday by Gov. Tom Vilsack opens the door to expanded early childhood education in Iowa but will require months of public explanation, as the state moves toward a rating system for preschools and child care centers.
June 6, 2005
St. Petersburg Times
As families consider where to enroll their children for pre-K, experts are cautioning parents not to leap before they take a close look at the available schools.
June 5, 2005
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
The Southern Regional Education Board's just-released report on the readiness of children entering kindergarten and the first grade provides incentive to examine again what more can be done statewide to help all our children prepare for life. Mississippi isn't discussed extensively because our state alone among the 16 members states has no statewide pre-kindergarten program.
June 4, 2005
Naples Daily News, Naples, FL
Like kindergarten before it, pre-K is increasingly more necessary to keep kids from falling behind.
June 2, 2005
The Morning News, Springdale, AR
A group of educators and parents are asking for more parenting resources, beginning in the maternity ward and continuing into the classroom.
June 1, 2005
The Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY
What prepares a child for kindergarten could be any combination of parents, day care centers, baby sitters, Head Start, and government-run and private pre-kindergarten.

Resources

Starting at 3, the Education Law Center's project promoting and supporting advocacy to establish the right to preschool education, maintains a web site with a state-by-state digest of preschool laws, information on litigating pre-k claims and other resources to help attorneys and advocates secure an entitlement to high-quality preschool programs.
This policy brief is based on a 61-page report, which studies the emergence of the mixed delivery model, in which pre-kindergarten programs are delivered in community-based settings and schools. The report describes findings of a state survey conducted by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in order to understand the processes involved in implementing mixed delivery programs. The study found at least 29 states were operating at last one pre-kindergarten program using a mixed delivery approach in November 2004. In this policy brief, authors Rachel Schumacher, Danielle Ewen, Katherine Hart, and Joan Lombardi describe principal approaches to state implementation of the mixed delivery model.
Recognizing the important role of high-quality early childhood education in the success of students, the Harvard Education Letter has launched a series of articles on preschool through grade three. In particular, the July/August issue will focus exclusively on preschool and early elementary education and the Letter expects to launch a new website this summer that will include all the articles of this series as well as other resources related to early learning. To find out more, visit http://www.edletter.org/.