Volume 5, Issue 10

June 19, 2006

Hot Topics

Despite concerns about finding enough teachers to staff expanding teacher needs under the state’s new universal pre-K program, there should be no shortage of qualified teachers — if providers pay competitive salaries, according to a study of teacher availability conducted by the Illinois Education Research Council. The study, funded by NIEER, looked at the pipeline delivering teachers from college as well as the reserve pool of teachers already qualified to teach early childhood education. The state awards 467 bachelor's degrees, 153 master’s degrees and over 1,000 Type 04 certificates yearly — a sufficient supply. In addition, there is a reserve pool of 3,400 qualified early childhood teachers not currently in classrooms but willing to consider working in an Illinois early childhood center under the right conditions. Most said salary would be the primary incentive for them to return to the classroom. NIEER Director Steve Barnett said the study refutes some of the misinformation commonly used by opponents of preschool for all. While circumstances in other states may not be identical to Illinois, the economic principles of the study apply across the country. The report can be downloaded at nieer.org.
Scarcely had California's Proposition 82 calling for universal pre-K been defeated than Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's decidedly less ambitious pre-K plan gathered momentum. The governor's plan, which so far appears to have support from both sides of the aisle, directs $50 million in the 2007 budget toward expansion of 43,000 new slots in low-performing school districts and $50 million for beefing up the Child Care Facilities Revolving Fund to address pre-K facilities expansion. The initiative calls for committing $145 million over the next three years for expanding pre-K access for 4-year-olds in low-performing districts. Press reports indicate it also includes a component requiring parents to read with their children.
The school reform bill passed by the special session of the Texas legislature and signed by Governor Rick Perry expands state pre-K to 4-year-olds from military families, regardless of income. The bill, which gave teachers pay raises and reduced local property taxes, provides $6.3 million in additional funding for the children of military families. State-funded pre-K in Texas had previously been targeted to at-risk children.
Two distinguished psychologists joined NIEER's Scientific Advisory Board this month. Rochel Gelman is a professor of psychology and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Science at Rutgers University. Her research interests include causal and quantitative reasoning, constraints on concept acquisition and the role of informal environments in cognitive development and conceptual change. Ross A. Thompson is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. His work focuses on early personality and socio-emotional development in the context of close relationships. Both are highly credentialed and widely published. We look forward to their counsel.
NIEER is inviting qualified candidates to apply for two research professor and one policy analyst position. Titles and qualifications are required, and responsibilities are as follows:



Research Professor — needs expertise in early childhood education research and policy, with appropriate doctoral degree. Will be responsible for designing and implementing research studies, authoring research reports, and working closely with leaders in early childhood education.



Research Professor — needs strong background in statistics and research methodology, with appropriate doctoral degree. Will be responsible for designing and conducting complex statistical analyses and communicating results of analyses effectively. Will design and implement research studies, collaborate with education community, and provide technical assistance.



Policy Analyst — needs to be able to develop research and analysis to inform state and federal policy and to synthesize and translate results so they will be of use by advocates and policymakers as well as stay abreast of policy developments. Must be an effective and efficient writer and verbal communicator. Will be responsible for managing and supporting major national-level analyses of state early childhood policy. Advanced degree required.



To learn more, visit the NIEER web site at nieer.org and go to http://nieer.org/about/jobs.php.

Calendar

June 21, 2006 - June 21, 2006
Oakland, CA – The Child Development Policy Institute Education Fund brings together state and national researchers and others to learn how research findings translate into classroom practice.
July 17, 2006 - July 18, 2006
New Haven, CT – This conference is intended for educational leaders who are faced with new expectations brought on by testing and accountability for academic improvement.
July 25, 2006 - July 27, 2006
Chapel Hill, NC – At this conference, participants will learn the latest research findings related to inclusive policy and practice.
July 26, 2006 - July 29, 2006
Orlando, FL – The theme of the National Association for Family Child Care's conference is "Family Child Care Shines Around the World – Strengthening Children, Families, and Communities."
August 1, 2006 - August 3, 2006
Chicago, IL – This conference will offer expert-led sessions providing valuable training opportunities to add to participants' knowledge of quality child care.
August 7, 2006 - August 11, 2006
Washington, DC – The conference agenda will be organized around the common goals for America's children and the people that care for them.

Early Education News Roundup

June 16, 2006
The State, Columbia, SC
Public pre-kindergarten programs funded by First Steps are giving at-risk children a better shot at doing well in school, the first outside study of the program's effectiveness has found. A study conducted by the National Institute for Early Education Research previously found that state-funded programs for 4-year-olds improve literacy and vocabulary skills in children.
June 15, 2006
The Kansas City Star
The movement for universal preschool is spreading. For the current fiscal year, 26 state legislatures approved $600 million more than the preceding year on their pre-kindergarten programs.
June 13, 2006
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, PA
In a year when the state will have a $700 million surplus, it makes perfect sense to add spending in early childhood education -- an investment that will save money later.
June 12, 2006
The Spectrum, St. George, UT
Preschool can provide an academic edge for young children, but only if the curriculum is conducive to their formative cognitive, emotional and social development.
June 9, 2006
Long Island Business News
In a move that could have a large impact on New York's enormous day care industry, the state Legislature in May approved an additional $50 million for schools offering pre-kindergarten classes, on top of the $200 million the state already provides for public pre-K programs. The $50 million marks the first increase in state pre-K funding in five years.
June 8, 2006
The Greenville News, Greenville, SC
The funds initially will be targeted toward eight poor school districts in the state.
June 8, 2006
The Boston Globe
[W]hen lawmakers consider whether universal preschool is a cost worth considering, they invariably focus on academic preparation, when the real value of a child's first school experience is less measurable, but more profound in its life long implications. Of course, we do not have a standardized test to measure such things; we have only to pick up the newspaper each day to see what sorts of messes are made when adults have not managed to internalize these lessons.
June 7, 2006
Los Angeles Times
The measure envisioned free half-day preschool at public schools and private learning centers for all children, regardless of family income.
June 7, 2006
The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte, NC
The bill, which would take effect in the fall of 2008, reflects a decades-old worry about sending children to school too early. Rep. Dale Folwell, a Forsyth County Republican and the chief sponsor, said the legislation is aimed at ensuring children are not so many months behind their classmates developmentally because of an arbitrary date.

Resources

A recent policy report from the Society for Research in Child Development presents a comprehensive review of the childhood obesity epidemic, research related to it, its many causes and the roles various organizations and entities can play if an effective intervention is to be developed. The article appears in Volume XX, Number II of Social Policy Report.
In this policy brief from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, author Kristin Smith focuses on the use of relative or home-based care by rural families.
This report from Pre-K Now assesses the preschool commitments of our nation's governors and identifies those who "set the gold standard" for leadership as well as those who seem lost in the "pre-K wilderness."