Volume 6, Issue 1

January 5, 2007

Hot Topics

Newly elected New York State Governor Elliot Spitzer pledged to make state-funded preschool education available to all the state's 4-year-olds by the time his term as governor ends. The pre-K pledge was one of many the governor made in an hour-long inaugural address that laid out an ambitious agenda for education, health care, government reform and revitalization of the state's economy. Spitzer also vowed to provide health insurance coverage for all children in the state. On the West Coast, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also pledged to provide health insurance coverage for all children in that state in a speech he made after being re-elected governor.
Writing in Education Week, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis economists Arthur J. Rolnick and Rob Grunewald propose establishing a permanent scholarship fund for all families with at-risk children for the purpose of early childhood education. They say the fund would operate like endowments and produce scholarships that would cover the cost of child tuition plus the cost of parental mentoring. Rolnick and Grunewald say the scholarships would include incentives for achieving significant progress toward learning skills needed to succeed. The scholarships would begin when children are 3 but the parent mentoring aspect would begin before kids are 3. To read the article visit http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2007/01/04/17rolnick.h26.html.
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, elected in 2005 on a platform including voluntary state-funded preschool education for all 4-year-olds is learning how difficult delivering on that promise can be. A progress report from the governor's Start Strong Council charged with developing the pilot for the program drew criticism from the Thomas Jefferson Institute because no control group has been established for comparing educational outcomes and because the council's estimated $300 million price tag does not reflect what the Institute considers true program costs. Meanwhile, members of the General Assembly question whether providing free preschool education for middle-income children is a wise use of taxpayer money and are suggesting the program be targeted to disadvantaged families. The legislature recently rejected the governor's plan to raise $1 billion through increases in state taxes and fees.
Minnesota Senate Democrats are proposing all-day, every-day kindergarten and money to help parents put their children in preschool education as part of their education priorities this legislative session. So far, the proposals are vague and don't have price tags. Governor Tim Pawlenty is open to the idea, says his spokesman, Brian McClung. The early childhood education allowance would be available for parents with children between ages 6 months and 5 years and the amount awarded would be on a sliding scale based on income. Parents could only use the money if providers meet state standards.
The Wall Street Journal reports the number of children living in poverty in the United Kingdom has declined from about one in four to about one in 10 since the Tony Blair government adopted policies such as establishing a minimum wage and creating a program similar to the U.S. Head Start program. Britain's Sure Start Program providing free early care and education to all 3- and 4-year-olds in the country, first implemented in 1999, is widely cited as a factor in the progress on poverty. It nearly doubled the number of early care and education slots in the country. Another policy contributing to the success is Britain's tax credits for the working poor.

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

January 4, 2007
The Oregonian
National research is clear: The earlier children are exposed to a rich learning environment, the better their chances of succeeding in school. But policy makers and educators disagree whether Head Start, full-day kindergarten or reducing class size delivers the most benefits to young children.
January 4, 2007
Education Week
Research has found that participation in intensive, high-quality early-childhood education can improve school readiness. According to the National Institute for Early Education based at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., 38 states now have state-financed preschool programs, enrolling some 10 percent of children ages 3 and 4.
January 3, 2007
The News Star, Monroe, LA
Louisiana 4-year-olds are making great strides toward readiness for kindergarten and in turn increasing scores on high stakes testing in elementary school. Year end reports for 2005-06 indicate that although at-risk students in the LA-4/Starting Points pre-kindergarten program started the school year scoring in the lowest quarter for performance in math, language and print, these students showed strong progress by the end of the school year, raising scores to above the national average for pre-kindergarten students.
January 1, 2007
Globe Gazette, Mason City, IA
Gov.-elect Chet Culver has pledged to spend $4 million toward a goal of having an accredited preschool program in every district. About 60 percent of Iowa's school districts now have such programs.
December 25, 2006
Express-News, San Antonio, TX
An upgrade in the education system is one solution to the labor quality problems facing Texas, and high quality pre-K programs such as child care, Head Start and public pre-kindergarten are some of the most cost-effective educational investments we can make as a state.
December 23, 2006
The Oregonian
Being behind as a child, it seems, isn't just a temporary misfortune. For some kids, it can be a life sentence. This is why the Oregon Legislature should boost the state's investment in high-quality preschool for low-income children -- if legislators can find a way to make that investment sustainable. It's a natural complement to improving funding for Oregon's K-12 schools and colleges.
December 21, 2006
The Kalona News, Kalona, IA
The Iowa Department of Education along with the other state departments of education has had to develop a six year State Performance Plan for the Federal Office of Special Education Programs. One of the indicators is the percent of preschool children with IEPs who received special education and related services (i.e. speech/language services) in settings with typically developing peers (e.g. early childhood settings and part-time early childhood/part-time early childhood special education).
December 19, 2006
The Arizona Republic
Child care costs in Arizona have jumped 35 percent in six years, outpacing the amount of child care money the state gives needy families, a new survey shows. The Department of Economic Security, which conducted the latest child-care market survey, said it will press the state Legislature to give the department more money for child care subsidies.

Resources

The 11th annual report from Education Week presents information on which states provide their young people with the best opportunity to succeed academically and professionally and examines state efforts to create a more seamless education system.