Volume 5, Issue 6

April 5, 2006

Hot Topics

The 2006 Child Well-Being Index measuring quality of life of children, says the dramatic expansion of pre-K in the 1990s correlates with the increase on math and reading scores seen among 9-year-olds in the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) report card. Gains in well-being were made in safety, family economic well-being, community connectedness and emotional/spiritual well-being. Downturns continue to be in health and social development. Ruby Takanishi, President of the Foundation for Child Development (FCD), which launched the Index with Duke University and The Brookings Institution, says that while pre-K has made some impact, there has been a general lack of progress in education over the last 30 years. Access the report at: http://www.fcd-us.org/CWBIndex2006.html.
Developers and other businesses are contributing a sizable portion of the money being raised for an initiative in Arizona that would impose an 80-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes to fund pre-K and other early childhood programs. Heading up the First Things First initiative, which has raised $1.8 million so far, is early childhood education expert and former State Board of Education chair Nadine Basha whose firm assists companies in setting up child care programs for workers. According to NIEER's recently released 2005 State Preschool Yearbook, Arizona's state-funded pre-K serves 6 percent of the state's 4-year-olds and no 3-year-olds — the same as in 2002.
Vowing to pave the way for the best pre-K programs in the country, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire has signed into law a new cabinet-level department devoted to early learning. The new department will pull together more than a dozen state programs dealing with various aspects of early childhood development including day care and preschool. She said the department will work with the private sector and develop a rating system to grade preschools.
In a move that preserves their right to appeal, both sides in the school funding case Abbeville v. State of South Carolina have moved that Judge Thomas Cooper reconsider his decision. The South Carolina Supreme Court had remanded Abbeville to Cooper's trial court for the purpose of deciding if the state is living up to its constitutional obligation to provide an adequate education to the state's children. Cooper ruled that despite disparities among districts in K-12 education, the state is minimally meeting its obligation. He went on to say the state is not meeting its obligation to young children and ordered early care and education programs be provided to all disadvantaged children. The plaintiff school districts feel Cooper overlooked their lack of resources for facilities and competitive teacher salaries. The state's attorney filed his motion on the basis that the new early education requirement establishes a standard that is higher than and inconsistent with the "opportunity to acquire a minimally adequate education."
The Wall Street Journal reports 14 states now have child care rating systems and 25 more are developing them. With the ratings approach, states are responding to the demand for information that goes beyond whether providers meet licensing requirements. Most use a star system similar to those that rate restaurants and hotels. North Carolina's system, in effect since 1999, assigns points in each of three areas — program standards, education standards and compliance history. Stars are assigned based on total point score ranges. Providers achieving 14-15 points receive a 5-star rating, the state's highest.
We misreported the authorship of the study Benefits for All: The Economic Impact of the Child Care Industry in New Jersey in our March 10 issue. That study was conducted by Brentt Brown and Saskia Traill at the National Economic Development and Law Center and published by the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy of Thomas Edison State College. The study can be downloaded at http://www.nedlc.org/Publications/publications_eir.htm.

NIEER Activities

NIEER Assistant Research Professors Debra Ackerman and Kirsty Brown are presenting at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting on Saturday, April 8th. Ackerman, who has studied early child care in the U.S. military, is presenting results from her study of professional development provided to caregivers in the U.S. military's child development centers. Brown will present results from her randomized trial experiment assessing the effects of a public preschool inclusion program on typically developing students in a Northeastern New Jersey community.

Calendar

April 26, 2006 - April 29, 2006
Atlanta, GA – This conference will host more than 40 sessions on child care best practices.
May 2, 2006 - May 5, 2006
Ypsilanti, MI – Attendees of this conference will explore many aspects of preschool education.
May 10, 2006 - May 13, 2006
Detroit, MI – This conference covers a wide range of topics concerning the early care and education field.
June 4, 2006 - June 7, 2006
San Antonio, TX – Participants will leave this conference with a deepened understanding of the expanding early childhood knowledge base.

Early Education News Roundup

April 5, 2006
The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette, LA
There are not enough slots for students who need early childhood education services.
March 31, 2006
Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN
It's hard to name a public investment that has earned more praise from elected leaders and academic experts in recent years than early-childhood education.
March 31, 2006
Arizona Daily Star
We believe that starting the education process earlier, offering more challenges to our 3- and 4-year-olds, will make a difference.
March 27, 2006
The Christian Science Monitor
Critics fear that the formidable cost of making preschool broadly available isn't worth it. But a key result of preschool is economic gain for all.
March 26, 2006
The New York Times
New York took a bold step when it established the Universal Pre-Kindergarten program in 1997 with the goal of making pre-K available to every 4-year-old child.

Resources

This newsletter from West Ed features a number of articles focusing exclusively on early childhood education.