Volume 4, Issue 19

November 18, 2005

Hot Topics

Virginia Governor-Elect Tim Kaine’s victory paves the way for making state-funded prekindergarten available to all 4-year-olds in the state. Kaine's Jump Start initiative for providing voluntary universal pre-K, a key element in his campaign, calls for forming advisory councils in each community that will be charged with creating a plan for providing UPK that fits local needs. The local councils could include coordinating with Head Start in the planning process. He has said he will earmark $74 million a year for each of the four years he serves as governor to fund Jump Start. Kaine was Lieutenant Governor to outgoing Governor Mark Warner, whose administration substantially increased funds available for the Virginia Preschool Initiative. The program served about 6 percent of the state's 4-year-olds prior to the increase.
Colorado voters approved a referendum that will suspend that state's Tax Payer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) for five years and permit more than $3 billion in new spending on health care, transportation and education. TABOR had limited what the state could spend on programs to a strict formula that takes into account population growth and inflation. Enrollment in the Colorado Preschool Program has remained flat under TABOR. Advocates for TABOR-like measures in other states saw the Colorado vote as a setback.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Florida officials are concerned the state's under-subscribed UPK program could morph into an over-subscribed summer program. Unlike the school-year program, which is primarily offered by private providers, the summer program must be offered by public schools where teachers must have better credentials and class size limits are tighter. To fit the required 300 hours of instruction into a summer session, schools will need to provide at least 7 ½ hours per day of instruction time. The combination of better-qualified teachers, smaller classes and sessions that fit working family schedules make it an attractive option that could bring 70,000 enrollees according to one estimate. School officials are voicing concern they may not be able to recruit enough teachers and staff to meet the demand.
Princeton University professor of economics Cecilia E. Rouse says her research indicates that lower earnings from school dropouts costs the U.S. $158 billion in lost earnings and $36 billion in lost state and federal taxes for every class of 18-year-olds that go through — or drop out of — the K-12 system. Rouse, who shared her numbers at a recent Columbia University symposium, said dropouts earn about $260,000 less than high school graduates over their lifetimes and hold down jobs about half the time compared with 69 percent of the time for high school graduates and 74 percent of the time for college graduates. University of California, Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti told attendees that increasing graduation rates 1 percent nationally would save the country $1.4 billion in law enforcement.
The Pew Charitable Trusts program officer Sara Watson says the Trusts' grantees or grantee partners are sponsoring or co-sponsoring no fewer than 12 events before or during the NAEYC annual conference the first week in December. From NIEER presentations to reports from Pre-K Now to a report from the Trusts' own Thomas Schultz, these events are, says Watson, part of the effort to disseminate the latest information to the early childhood community about advances in early education research and policy. You can learn more about the events at The Pew Charitable Trusts web site.

New on nieer.org

Two fact sheets based on previously published policy reports are now available from NIEER. You can view the fact sheets Prepared for Kindergarten: What Does “Readiness” Mean? and Promoting Children's Social and Emotional Development Through High-Quality Preschool on the NIEER web site. For copies of the fact sheets, please contact info@nieer.org.

Calendar

November 28, 2005 - December 2, 2005
Arlington, VA -- This conference will provide Head Start and Early Head Start directors with essential training as well as opportunities to network with colleagues.
December 7, 2005 - December 10, 2005
Washington, DC - This annual conference is the largest gathering of early childhood educators and professionals in the nation.
December 12, 2005 - December 14, 2005
Washington, DC – This conference gives participants the resources to improve programs for young children with special needs.
January 18, 2006 - January 21, 2006
Phoenix, AZ – The National Association for Bilingual Education's annual conference boasts the largest gathering of teachers, administrators, researchers, and policymakers dedicated to serving English language learners in the United States.

Early Education News Roundup

November 17, 2005
The Boston Globe
To educate more of its young children, Massachusetts has to educate more teachers of young children.
November 16, 2005
Brattleboro Reformer, Brattleboro, VT
For the second year in a row, an early education bill that attempted to formalize a statewide public preschool program and commit the necessary funding to it, never made it out of the committee hearing room.
November 16, 2005
The Olympian, Olympia, WA
A task force led by Gov. Christine Gregoire has recommended that the state set up an agency to focus on preschool education.
November 15, 2005
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Thousands of California families would benefit from state-funded early childhood education.
November 14, 2005
Peoria Journal Star
Still more money is needed to ensure all 3- and 4-year-old children in Illinois can attend preschool even though Gov. Rod Blagojevich increased early childhood education funding by $90 million over the next three years.
November 13, 2005
Rocky Mountain News, Denver, CO
Denver schools face an enormous challenge in educating children who arrive for their first day already far behind many of their new classmates.
November 11, 2005
Anchorage Daily News
A growing group of Alaskans say it's time Alaska got a quality state preschool system -- especially since it's one of only a dozen states without one.
November 7, 2005
The Christian Science Monitor
Millions of parents assume preschool to be an important part of their children's lives, but that's far from reality for the working poor.
November 6, 2005
The Charlotte Observer
Public pre-kindergarten programs in North and South Carolina can't expand fast enough for parents.
November 6, 2005
The Idaho Statesman
In fact, state law prohibits Idaho from paying for programs that educate children under 5.
November 6, 2005
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA
For every $1 Louisiana invests in expanding schooling for 4-year-olds, the state government would save between $1.76 and $2.25 by the time these children turn 40 years old, according to a newly issued study by a national group that advocates universal prekindergarten.
November 4, 2005
The Palm Beach Post
What really sets Oklahoma apart from Florida and the other four states that offer universal pre-K — Georgia, New York, Massachusetts and West Virginia — is the quality of its program.
November 3, 2005
Hartford Courant
State Education Commissioner Betty J. Sternberg is seeking an additional $14.6 million in state money to provide 2,200 new preschool slots.
November 1, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle
As taxpayers, parents and educators debate the value of public preschool for every child, a new study by UC Berkeley and Stanford researchers finds for the first time that middle-class children -- not just kids from the poorest families -- receive a boost in language and math skills from preschool.
October 30, 2005
The Honolulu Advertiser
It is now a commonly accepted fact that the most important learning period in life is from birth to age 5.

Resources

By Stephen Herzenberg, Mark Price, and David Bradley

This report explores how qualifications for those employed by center-based early care programs have declined significantly in the past 20 years. In fact, the report notes that 30 percent of teachers and administrators in early childhood education now have completed only a high school education or less.
By Chris Ferguson and Lacy Wood

This strategy brief from the National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools explores ways schools and families can work together to address children's readiness for school and provides strategies schools can use to begin transition activities before children enter kindergarten.
By Guanglei Hong and Stephen W. Raudenbush

The authors of this report found that retaining low-performing children in kindergarten does not improve academic achievement in reading or mathematics for these children and may in fact hinder their learning. Except in the cases of the highest-risk children, kindergarten retention resulted in the loss of almost half a year of academic growth.