Volume 5, Issue 21

December 15, 2006

Hot Topics

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell recently announced realignment of early childhood programs under the state's newly created Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). The new entity will incorporate the Department of Education's early childhood, Head Start, school pre-K, full-day kindergarten and preschool early intervention programs. Also on the list to be incorporated are child care, early intervention and family support programs from the Office of Child Development in the Department of Public Welfare. OECDL will remain on the organizational charts of the two agencies contributing programs to it. Like other states that have realigned early childhood programs in this manner, Pennsylvania hopes to create a better-coordinated, more easily managed and effective system of early childhood services. Implementation is expected to be complete by mid-2007.
As if to prove the maxim that no good deed goes unpunished, Denver leaders have been told their new universal pre-K program is likely to reduce the amount of state aid the city receives for educating at-risk preschoolers. The Rocky Mountain News reports the state Department of Education briefed the legislature to the effect that with Denver's new program, the city will come closer to meeting the needs of the city's at-risk 4-year-olds. The city's lobbyist, Todd Saliman told the city council the state Department of Education informed him it intends to take Denver's new universal program into consideration when prioritizing the need for money for pre-K slots throughout the state.
Momentum at the Early Education for All (EEA) Campaign in Massachusetts received a shot in the arm from western Massachusetts when the 800-member Springfield Chamber of Commerce endorsed the campaign. Among the goals of EEA are a high-quality voluntary, universal pre-K program delivered through a mix of public and private providers and full-day kindergarten. Governor-elect Deval Patrick has said he supports the concept of voluntary, universally available preschool education, and advocates are hoping he will reverse outgoing governor Mitt Romney's excising of language referring to UPK as a goal in Massachusetts.
McMaster University pediatrician and early childhood researcher Harriet MacMillan says after years of study, she and her colleagues have concluded that parents who received regular visits from nurses trained in child abuse prevention were just as likely to re-abuse children as those who did not receive the visits. MacMillan said the disappointing findings mean that for children who remain in homes deemed at high risk for recurrence of physical abuse and neglect, there is no intervention proven to reduce that risk. The study, involving 163 families shows that, whereas previous research suggests a regimen of home visits can prevent the first occurrence of abuse, it is not effective in the more difficult task of preventing recurrence of abuse once it has occurred. Each family in the intervention group received two years of regular nurse visits. MacMillan was named Researcher of the Year by the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development for her work.
A new study reported in the winter issue of the Hoover Institution's journal Education Next says children from low-education households who were placed in high-quality classrooms achieved at the same level as those whose mothers had college degrees. Moreover, children displaying previous problem behavior showed achievement and adjustment levels identical to children who had no history of problems. The key was high-quality teaching — something author Robert Pianta at the University of Virginia says occurred in only about 25 percent of the classrooms in his study. To read the report, visit http://www.hoover.org/publications/ednext/4612287.html.
The popular British children's television show The Hoobs is set to make its U.S. debut December 25 on the 24-hour digital preschool channel PBS KIDS Sprout. Created by The Jim Henson Company, The Hoobs inhabit colorful Hoobland and learn about the planet by posing questions to the children they encounter.

Calendar

January 10, 2007 - January 12, 2007
Washington, DC – This seminar will provide participants with hands-on experience in using the ECLS-B database.
January 24, 2007 - January 24, 2007
Chicago, IL – This one-day symposium will look at how assessment and quality systems can support states' learning goals for young children.
February 5, 2007 - February 8, 2007
New South Wales, Australia – This conference looks at the role of art in early childhood education, particularly in social, cultural and historical contexts.
February 7, 2007 - February 10, 2007
San Jose, CA – 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.
February 25, 2007 - March 3, 2007
Washington, DC – This conference will offer participants the latest policy, research and best practices from the nation’s leading experts.

Early Education News Roundup

December 13, 2006
Richmond Times-Dispatch
High-quality pre-kindergarten programs can close the gap for at-risk kids, says a University of Virginia researcher. He said his research, however, found few state programs of the caliber necessary to do the job. Robert Pianta, Curry School of Education professor and director of the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, observed thousands of pre-kindergarten and elementary school students in multiple states.
December 12, 2006
WKBT, La Crosse, WI
However, a new report from a special task force appointed by outgoing Assembly Speaker, Republican Representative John Gard, says [more preschool assessments are needed]. The task force plan calls for defined goals on English language skills, assessment test scores, and a reduction of future special education needs.
December 12, 2006
The Daily News Tribune, Waltham, MA
It takes time, patience, perseverance and a degree of strategic sophistication to make major changes in policy, but it can be done. After nearly a decade, the law creating Massachusetts' Board of Early Education and Care was passed, making Massachusetts the first state in the nation to enact such a law.
December 11, 2006
Daily Courier, Connellsville, PA
As school accountability requirements grow, educators are constantly seeking means to improve student performance. One effort focuses on the youngest scholars -- pre-kindergarten students. Kindergarten readiness has become increasingly important because kindergarten students are expected to develop significant pre-reading and math skills during the school year.
December 11, 2006
The Toledo Blade
Every working parent in Ohio who drops a child off at a day-care facility in the morning with even slight reservations will now be getting help in evaluating their child's care. Expanding a state pilot program that rates the quality of licensed day-care providers to all 88 counties in Ohio is a welcome development, for parents and providers alike.
December 11, 2006
Anchorage Daily News
For example, starting a voluntary statewide early education program in Alaska will likely be expensive. But failing to join the roughly 40 other states that have started down the road to early learning will cost us more in the long run.
December 9, 2006
The Cullman Times, Cullman, AL
The Alabama Office of School Readiness, which funds programs for four-year-olds across the state, recently released results of an evaluation revealing the benefits of Pre-K programs. According to the results, children made substantial gains in vocabulary and language skills over the course of the program; made significant gains in letter recognition, rhyming words, alliteration; and classroom quality was consistently high across all state-funded Pre-K sites, as well as parent satisfaction with the programs and teachers.
December 8, 2006
Kansas City Star
A board focused on improving learning in the preschool years held its first meeting Thursday, visiting with Gov. Matt Blunt about the challenges facing early childhood education. Blunt said he wants the board to focus on coming up with a more comprehensive and standard approach for managing various funding sources for early childhood efforts, looking at what other states have done.
December 7, 2006
The Day, New London, CT
A new report recommends spending more than $102 million by mid-2009 to bolster early childhood education by adding thousands of new preschool seats statewide. The report, which also recommends more advanced training for preschool teachers, comes from a group that Gov. M. Jodi Rell created last February to improve and expand early childhood education in the state.
December 7, 2006
The Washington Post
More than a year after Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) was elected on promises to make state-funded preschool available to all the state's 4-year-olds, a committee has recommended starting with a pilot program next year for 1,000 children. The Start Strong Council, a group of educators, business leaders and lawmakers convened by Kaine to help launch his ambitious proposal, issued a report yesterday saying that the state also should develop standards for class size and curriculum and work with area colleges to create teacher-training programs.
December 6, 2006
The Indianapolis Star
The plan unveiled by the governor Tuesday to expand full-day kindergarten includes money for more teachers, but educators and lawmakers worry because it includes nothing to build the hundreds of needed classrooms. That leaves school administrators warning that broadening full-day kindergarten could break their budgets.
December 5, 2006
San Antonio Express-News
Decades of early childhood research helped establish kindergarten classrooms that emphasized social activities, stretching children's imaginations, and a joyful transition to school — in essence, learning through play. Ellen Frede, co-director of the New Jersey-based National Institute for Early Education Research, said children learn about spatial relations, taking turns, and even counting from steps on the ladder, on the playground.
December 1, 2006
Knoxville News Sentinel
Gov. Phil Bredesen said expanding the state's pre-kindergarten program and tweaking the funding formula for urban schools would be among his top education priorities in the next budget year. Speaking after a budget proposal from the state Department of Education on Thursday, Bredesen said expanding the pre-K program by $25 million each year would leave Tennessee with near-universal access by the time his second term ends four years from now.

Resources

This report from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, presents information on the particpation of children ages 3 to 5 years old in center-based early childhood care and education programs between 1991 and 2005.