Volume 4, Issue 2

January 28, 2005

Hot Topics

More than 10 percent of preschoolers between ages 2 and 5 are overweight or obese, reports the American Heart Association in its 2005 statistical update. That percentage, based on a 2002 data set, shows a sharp increase from the figures for 1994, when 7 percent of preschoolers in the same age range were overweight or obese. The problem has prompted programs in several states promoting better nutrition and active lifestyles for young children. Arizona’s new Nutrition and Physical Activity State Plan will, among other things, direct schools and doctors to track the body mass index of students. A special effort from the folks at Sesame Workshop enlists none other than the Cookie Monster to extol the virtues of fruit and vegetables.
Responding to an investigative story in The Dallas Morning News, Texas Education Commissioner Shirley Neely has launched a review of test security in that state. The Morning News story was based on an analysis of test scores from schools across the state and suggested a widespread pattern of manipulation of test scores in potentially hundreds of schools. It also revealed that Texas does not routinely monitor testing for patterns of abuse. Neely said Texas would follow the lead of Indiana and Pennsylvania and retain outside experts to monitor testing procedures in the future. Read more at Education Week.
Washington-based advocacy organization Pre-K Now officially opened its doors on January 26. Established in 2002 as the Trust for Early Education operating under the umbrella of the Education Trust, Pre-K Now has become a separate organization that plays a key role in the grant-making strategy of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Its mission is to provide financial and technical assistance to advocates and other leaders in the states, strengthen the capacity and skills of those it supports, and wage a targeted campaign to educate and mobilize the public and policymakers. "We have the same energetic people as before," reports Director Libby Doggett, "but new offices and a brand new web site." She and staff are at 1150 18th St., N.W., Suite 975, Washington, D.C. 20036. Phone: 202 862 9871. Web: www.preknow.org.
If California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell has his way, policymakers there will eventually replace the K-12 public school mentality with P-16 — prekindergarten to 4 years after high school. In his annual address on the condition of public schools, O'Connell said P-16 should begin with publicly funded preschool for all 4-year-olds and called on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to restore $2.3 billion in Proposition 98 funding for schools that the governor proposed eliminating in next year's budget. O'Connell says even students who choose not to attend traditional college need advanced academic skills after high school to perform jobs in today's economy.
A new report on formulas that limit government spending to calculations of population growth and inflation, like those in Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), finds that education programs suffer funding cuts under them. While such tax and expenditure limits, commonly referred to as TELS, appear to allow governments to adjust spending to account for growth in population and inflation, they are, in practice "a recipe for sharply reduced public services," concludes the report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Among reasons cited are the facts that costs for public services like education rise faster than the core inflation rate and subpopulations of persons requiring government services like special education grow faster than the overall population. Titled, "The Flawed Population Plus Inflation Formula," the report says that, after 12 years of TABOR, the high school graduation rate, support for public colleges and universities, and access to prenatal care have fallen in Colorado. Measures similar to Colorado's TABOR have been proposed in other states. For more information, contact center@cbpp.org.

Calendar

January 31, 2005 - February 4, 2005
Albuquerque, New Mexico – The Institute provides an opportunity for Head Start, Early Head Start, and Migrant & Seasonal Head Start programs to come together to explore specific issues related to providing effective services to Hispanic children and families.
February 7, 2005 - February 9, 2005
Washington, DC – The 2005 Conference is intended for those involved in providing services to young children with special needs and their families.
March 1, 2005 - March 5, 2005
Washington, DC – Get the very latest policy, research, and practice developments from the nation’s leading experts at NACCRA’s 17th annual symposium.
March 21, 2005 - March 24, 2005
St. Louis, MO -- Join professionals from a variety of fields – from child care to government – for the 14th annual Born to Learn conference in St. Louis.

Early Education News Roundup

January 27, 2005
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH
Some may scoff at jumping such hurdles for preschool, but study after study shows the importance of choosing a good one.
January 27, 2005
Brattleboro Reformer, Brattleboro, VT
The Vermont State Board of Education has drafted a set of rules that promotes a statewide, publicly funded early education system.
January 26, 2005
Chicago Tribune
For months, advocates of early childhood education have been buzzing that Gov. Rod Blagojevich plans to announce a bold initiative to vastly expand public schooling for preschoolers – provided he finds the funding for it.
January 26, 2005
News-Record, Greensboro, NC
North Carolina launched the Smart Start initiative in 1993 to address early-childhood concerns.
January 26, 2005
The Honolulu Advertiser
In her State of the State speech, Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle proposed an increase in spending on the state's Open Doors program from $3 million to $8 million a year.
January 26, 2005
The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, WV
In West Virginia, 31.5 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in pre-kindergarten versus 16.1 percent nationally.
January 22, 2005
The Tennessean
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said he will ask lawmakers for $25 million in new money, part of it siphoned from lottery proceeds, to expand the state's pilot preschool program.
January 20, 2005
The Capital, Annapolis, MD
Gov. Robert Ehrlich has kicked off a new $500,000 statewide campaign promoting early education and child preparation for kindergarten.
January 19, 2005
The Des Moines Register
Gov. Tom Vilsack said Tuesday he would not exclude religious and for-profit preschools from his plan to provide more state money for early childhood education.
January 19, 2005
The Ledger, Lakeland, FL
The proposal for the 2005-06 fiscal year would spend about $2,500 for every 4-year-old who opts to take part in the new pre-K program.