Volume 5, Issue 12

July 14, 2006

Hot Topics

A recently published synthesis from the University of North Carolina's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute compiles the current thinking on how to create an effective system for spotting learning disabilities in young children and intervening before the kids have a chance to experience school failure. Called "Recognition and Response," the proposed system is based on the idea that parents and teachers can learn to recognize early warning signs that a young child may not be learning in an expected manner and also learn to respond in ways that positively affect that child's early school success. Authors Mary Ruth Coleman, Virginia Buysse and Jennifer Neitzel point out that under current state and federal guidelines, preschoolers are unlikely to meet eligibility for having a learning disability since at that age, there has not yet been a sufficiently measurable discrepancy between the child's aptitude and academic achievement — something that often doesn't occur until 2nd grade. Collaborators in the project are the National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Communications Consortium Media Center. Read the report at http://www.fpg.unc.edu/~randr/pdfs/2006FPGSynthesis_RecognitionAndResponse.pdf.
Even before Warren Buffet announced his plan to contribute much of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Foundation was moving into early childhood education. After years of focusing on K-12 initiatives, the Foundation announced in December it would invest up to $90 million in early learning over the next decade. This month, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and William H. Gates, Sr. announced they will lead a public-private partnership called Thrive by Five: The Washington Early Learning Fund. The partnership, which starts out with $9 million in seed money, will enhance training and support for existing programs and fund two early learning centers that will serve as models as the state expands its early childhood education program. As currently envisioned, one of the centers will serve as a hub for supporting other child care centers and parents educating their children at home. At Gregoire's urging, Washington has aligned its departments governing various aspects of early education into one Department of Early Learning.
In their new policy report "Pre-K and Latinos: The Foundation for America's Future," Arizona State University’s Eugene Garcia and Pre-K Now's Danielle Gonzales pull together a comprehensive, research-based picture of pre-K with regard to the fastest-growing segment in American society. Newly released by Pre-K Now, the report looks at pre-K in light of demographic and socio-economic trends, patterns of access and attendance, language issues and obstacles to effective outreach to Latino families. Among the authors' 10 recommendations are re-evaluation and beefing up of outreach to Latino families so they are aware of programs and benefits, provision of instruction in the home language in settings where a number of English Language Learners speak the same language, aggressive recruitment of bilingual staff, particularly within the Latino community and revisiting eligibility criteria with regard to English Language Learners. Read the report at http://www.preknow.com/documents/Pre-KandLatinos_July2006.pdf.
Early education advocate David Lawrence has joined Dr. Don Pemberton and Dr. Clarence Jones, Jr. in calling for upgrading Florida's new universal pre-K program and kindergarten and aligning them with the early elementary grades to comprise one educational unit known as PK-3 (pre-K through 3rd grade.) Appearing as guest columnists in several Florida newspapers, the three have made the case that the state should follow the lead of an initiative in the Miami-Dade school district that does just that. They say PK-3 would build bridges between pre-K and the other grades, increase the persistence of gains made in Pre-K and build stronger teachers since all teachers would be required to have the skills and credentials to teach all the grades in the unit and be paid on a public elementary school scale. Lawrence served on Governor Jeb Bush's team that made recommendations leading to the development of Florida's Voluntary Preschool Program which enrolled 105,000 4-year-olds in its first year. Pemberton is director of the Lastinger Center for Learning at the University of Florida. Jones is assistant superintendent for Pre-K/Elementary Instructional Support for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
If Denver's Mayor John Hickenlooper has his way, city residents will vote on a ballot question in November calling for an increase in the sales tax to expand access to preschool for 4-year-olds. The increase of 1.2 cents for every $10 in purchases is projected to raise about $12 million that would be used for preschool tuition credits for families and for quality improvement funds for preschools. The tuition credits would be determined on a sliding scale with low-income families receiving more than higher-income families. Providers benefiting from the credits would have to participate in a quality rating system. Among businessmen on the leadership team for the initiative are hotel holding company chairman Zachary Neumeyer and brewing magnate Peter Coors. The proposal has been approved by the Denver City Council's community affairs committee and must go before the full Council before getting on the ballot. Voters said "no" to the two previous sales tax increase proposals that made the ballot.

New on nieer.org

The May/June 2006 issue of Preschool Matters takes a look at the latest NIEER research on the impacts of the length of day in preschool programs and the role it plays in addressing the school readiness gap.



Also in Preschool Matters:


  • Preschoolers and Digital Technology

  • Study Finds Preschool Helps Low-Birth Weight Kids

  • Is There Life After Public Pre-K for Child Care Centers?

  • Q & A with Head Start Commissioner Channell Wilkins

  • Recommended Reading

Calendar

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.
September 18, 2006 - September 19, 2006
Denver, CO – This conference addresses the challenges of monitoring programs providing education for students with disabilities.

Early Education News Roundup

July 14, 2006
The Commerical Appeal, Memphis, TN
Gov. Phil Bredesen and department officials announced 227 new pre-K classes to serve 5,000 additional 4-year-olds statewide, bringing the total to 672 classes serving 13,500.
July 11, 2006
Rocky Mountain News, Denver, CO
A strong body of research shows that well-run preschools can help at-risk kids, experts said Monday. "It's not so difficult to do, but you have to do it right," said Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, headquartered at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
July 7, 2006
Gwinnett Daily Post, Lawrenceville, GA
The Center has the resources to serve 215 children from 6 weeks to 12 years old, including 14 classrooms, four indoor play areas, observation booths for training and three playgrounds. But its other role - the one businesses and educators applaud - is on-the-job training for Georgia's newest teachers, the foot soldiers in the effort to raise the bar for early childhood education.
July 5, 2006
Austin American-Statesman, Austin, TX
Children of active-duty members of the military now qualify for state-funded pre-kindergarten programs. That provision, which also applies to pre-kindergarten children whose parents were hurt or killed during their military duty, was tucked into major legislation approved earlier this year that changes the state's school finance system.
July 2, 2006
The Post and Courier, Charleston, SC
Finding quality, reliable child care doesn't always have a fairy tale ending for parents, who want a way to judge the places they send their children. That's according to a recent survey by the United Way Association of South Carolina and a team of other advocacy groups.
June 30, 2006
Ventura County Star
Conventional wisdom has it that Latinos desire to have their children stay at home with family members instead of starting school at an early age. A new national study shows that 96 percent of Latinos believe it is important for children to attend a prekindergarten program.

Resources

Child Trends Databank presents information indicating that public elementary schools in areas with a greater percentage of children eligible for free or reduced-price lunches are more likely to offer prekindergarten classes than those in wealthier areas.
This brief from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) explores how states can use federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to support state early education initiatives.
This literature review from the Childcare Resource and Research Unit highlights important aspects of quality-related research and policy analyses from Canada, the United States, and Western Europe.