Volume 5, Issue 19

November 9, 2006

Hot Topics

Arizona — Re-election of pro-preschool Governor Janet Napolitano secures her continued support for expanding state-funded pre-K and alignment of early education with the rest of the education system through the efforts of her P-20 council. Arizonans said "yes" to Proposition 203 calling for a statewide increase in the price of tobacco to fund early childhood development and health programs.

Arkansas — Governor-elect Mike Beebe has said he plans to work toward making state-funded preschool education available to all children. Beebe pledged to make $40 million available for the effort.

Florida — Newly elected Governor Charlie Christ has not said what he will do regarding Florida's new state-funded universal preschool program but has expressed a strong view that government has a duty to deliver on amendments to the state constitution such as the one calling for a high-quality universal preschool program.

Iowa — Governor-elect Chip Culver and newly elected legislative Democrats have said they will increase funding for all of education, including pre-K.

Kansas — Re-elected Governor Kathleen Sebelius ran on a platform that included expanded funding for education, including increased access to state-funded pre-K.

Massachusetts — Newly elected Governor Deval Patrick supports the concept of making state-funded pre-K available to all children but has not come out with a plan. Earlier this year, Governor Mitt Romney nixed making state pre-K universally available and the legislature vowed to reintroduce it. Patrick's wife, Diane, said she plans to focus on two issues — domestic violence and early childhood education.

Nebraska — Voters approved Amendment 5 that will create an early childhood endowment of $40 million in state education funds for services for at-risk children. Among its provisions: a requirement that a private foundation contribute an additional $20 million.

New York – Governor-elect Elliot Spitzer has said he will work toward making state-funded pre-K available to all children.

Ohio – Governor-elect Ted Strickland has pledged to work toward making state-funded preschool available to all children.

Pennsylvania — Re-elected Governor Ed Rendell says he wants to build on successes of his first term including making more money available for early childhood education.
Free and unstructured play is healthy and essential for helping children reach social, emotional and cognitive milestones, says a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. "The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds" is a response to forces threatening free play and unscheduled time. It notes that that a loss of free time and a hurried lifestyle can cause stress, anxiety and depression in children. For more information, visit http://www.aap.org/stress/.
Also from the American Academy of Pediatrics are findings from a study at the University of Michigan showing that teens who were iron-deficient as infants scored lower on cognitive tests than other children. The magnitude of the difference in cognitive scores between iron-deficient and normally developing children suggests iron can have a major impact on success in school.
The New York Times Science Times section reports on Harvard biologist Marc Hauser's novel hypothesis that feelings of empathy and expectations of reciprocity — critical to morality — are wired into the neural circuits of newborns. Hauser, who works with primates, believes these feelings are essential to mammalian group living and the product of evolution. If true, it means children are not being taught moral behavior from scratch but that parents and teachers are strengthening and lending shape to something that is innate. He cites psychological tests of children showing they have an innate sense of fairness that begins to show up at age 4. His new book, Moral Minds, is published by Harper Collins.
Dorothy Strickland, nationally-renowned literacy expert, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Chair in Education at Rutgers University and NIEER senior research fellow, helped the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) kick off its opening general session November 8. As part of NAEYC's "Celebration of Literacy" she presented tips based on her developmentally sound literacy and language research. A policy brief on literacy authored by Strickland can be found on the NIEER website at: http://nieer.org/docs/index.php?DocID=143. She was joined by author Vera B. Williams who read from her award-winning book and Grammy award-winning musicians Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer.


November 16, 2006 - November 18, 2006
Melbourne, Australia – This 6th annual conference encourages attendees to make a difference in the early childhood field by exploring the place of children's rights in policy and practice.
November 23, 2006 - November 24, 2006
Melbourne, Australia – This conference aims to present cutting edge information on early childhood development and parenting.
December 1, 2006 - December 3, 2006
Albuquerque, NM – This training event will focus on early care, health and education.

Early Education News Roundup

November 8, 2006
The Wichita Eagle
Halfway through a project aimed at preparing low-income toddlers for school, partners in the Wichita Cares program say they are seeing signs that children in the program will enter kindergarten more ready to learn. According to findings being released today by the Wichita school district, children in the Wichita Cares program are scoring high on preschool evaluations and showing few developmental delays.
November 1, 2006
The New York Times
Parental involvement is a buzzword in education, a recommended cure for high dropout rates, poor test scores and almost everything else that ails schoolchildren. But for immigrant parents, helping their children absorb lessons in an inscrutable language in a strange country has always been a distinctive challenge.
October 30, 2006
The New York Times
Ellen Frede, co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, said that larger gains would come as Abbott districts built on their strong preschool programs. In a 2005 report based on testing in the 15 largest Abbotts, her group found that students were better prepared for kindergarten. "The overwhelming data is this is a good use of state taxpayer money," she said.
October 30, 2006
The Washington Times
The National Center for Education Statistics has reported that full-day kindergarten enrollment rose from 28 percent of the country's children in 1977 to 68 percent in 2004 and is still growing. The needs of parents play a part as well, especially in households where full-time workers juggle young children's half-day schedules.
October 25, 2006
The Clarion Ledger, Jackson, MS
Gov. Haley Barbour says Mississippi can't afford a full-scale, publicly funded preschool anytime soon, but he'll include $1 million in his budget to develop an experimental program to help the parents of young children. The governor also told an audience of about 50 child-care providers and educators at the Mississippi Telecommunications and Conference Center that he wants to see more educational content in the Head Start program, which helps children from low-income families.
October 20, 2006
The Record, Bergen County, NJ
W. Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, says that a good program requires a certain amount of money, though it isn't always the case that high costs equal high quality. State-funded preschools for underprivileged children cost $12,000 per child per school year, according to Ellen Frede, the co-director of NIEER and the former director of the state Office of Early Childhood Education.
October 19, 2006
NBC Nightly News
Large tutoring companies that have long helped high school students prepare for the SATs are now helping three- to six-year-olds prepare for kindergarten. There are no studies on the effects of private tutoring for young children, and many education experts believe parents can do just as good a job.