Volume 4, Issue 16

September 20, 2005

Hot Topics

The estimated 370,000 school children displaced by Hurricane Katrina have the protection of the law that entitles them to continue their educations but preschoolers have no such assurance. That hasn't stopped communities, states and organizations from developing plans to assist preschoolers and their families in locating slots and the resources children need to attend. Texas, Georgia, and Illinois are among the states offering preschool services to evacuee children. The federal response is not fully developed, but early education experts say Head Start will play a central role. So far, $15 million has been allocated to the Head Start Bureau for temporary enrollment of children displaced by Katrina.



Seeing that children of evacuee families do not lose the ground already gained in preschool or the opportunity to start preschool is a big task, however. With nearly 24,000 kids attending throughout the metro area, New Orleans had a higher percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds in preschool than any major city in the nation. Rural areas are hard hit, too. The National Center for Rural Early Childhood Learning Initiatives reports that in Jackson County, Mississippi, 11 percent of all childcare center slots have washed away and 46 percent are at risk of elimination due to storm damage. 39 percent are reopening but need repairs. Donations for preschool efforts are welcome through the following programs:



The National Head Start Association, with support from Johnson & Johnson, is funneling contributions through three Head Start programs that are coordinating relief efforts in the states affected by Katrina. To learn more go to: http://www.nhsa.org/announcements/announce_hurricane_katrina.htm.



The Southern Early Childhood Association is accepting donations for rebuilding early childhood facilities in the areas affected by Katrina. For more information, go to: http://www.childcareexchange.com/resources/katrina/seca.php.



Pre-K Now is collecting donated backpacks for displaced students. For more information, contact Don Owens, Pre-K Now at 202 862 9863.



Teaching Strategies, Inc. is providing free curriculum and assessment materials to programs enrolling additional children displaced by Katrina. The company is also raising money for the Louisiana Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. For more information go to: http://www.TeachingStrategies.com/Katrina.



A coalition named "Hurricane Relief: Embrace Mississippi Children" is soliciting financial support and education materials. The effort includes the Early Childhood Institute, Mississippi Extension Service, the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Mississippi Early Childhood Association. Learn more at: http://www.educ.msstate.edu/cni/eci/relief/embrace.htm.



The Child Care Exchange has assembled information and helpful links to more than 20 Katrina efforts, including coverage of policy initiatives aimed at facilitating relief. Learn more at: http://www.childcareexchange.com/resources/katrina/.
Some $488 million of the $1.9 billion Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced the federal government plans to request from Congress to pay for educating K-12 students displaced by Katrina will go to a voucher plan so students can attend private schools if they wish. The plan would fund about 60,000 private school placements. Critics say the administration is weaving expanded voucher availability, which it has long sought, into disaster relief. Others say the plan simply addresses the flexibility needed to see that Katrina kids are appropriately placed.
A just-released study from the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University and the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice says high-stakes testing required by the No Child Left Behind Act has no real impact on student achievement. Analyzing National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test data from 25 states, the researchers found that states with greater proportions of minority students administer accountability systems that exert the most pressure and that increased pressure is related to increased retention in grade and drop-out. NAEP reading scores at 4th and 8th grade level were not improved as a result of increased testing.

Calendar

October 13, 2005 - October 16, 2005
Portland, OR - This conference explores a wide range of important issues facing those who work with young children with special needs and their families.
October 16, 2005 - October 18, 2005
Orlando, FL – This conference will provide participants with hundreds of seminars, forums, and workshops lead by education experts.
November 1, 2005 - November 2, 2005
Framingham, MA – Join teachers, superintendents, and other educational leaders from across the nation for this annual conference aimed at providing important tools and strategies for improving student learning.
November 4, 2005 - November 6, 2005
Washington, DC – This conference is considered the premiere training event for professionals who focus on early care, health, and education.
December 7, 2005 - December 10, 2005
Washington, DC - This annual conference is the largest gathering of early childhood educators and professionals in the nation.

Early Education News Roundup

September 18, 2005
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Some question whether preschool should be a part of the public school system considering financial resources are limited.
September 17, 2005
St. Petersburg Times
The summer numbers simply don't add up.
September 16, 2005
The Casper Star-Tribune, Casper, WY
A district judge backs Wyoming's argument that adding preschool claims to a decade-old school funding litigation would be a waste of time.
September 15, 2005
Daily Record, Morris County, NJ
Preschool students are being taught by teachers who are less educated today than they were in the 1980s.
September 11, 2005
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Policy-makers need to seriously consider moving from targeted programs to universal preschool.