Volume 6, Issue 10

June 1, 2007

Hot Topics

The Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has unveiled a sweeping plan to expand public education. While details are still forthcoming, Patrick is calling for, among other things, state-funded preschool education for all children, two years of free community college for all high school graduates, full-day kindergarten, an extended school day and school year, and creation of a blue-ribbon commission on the future of public education. Speaking to graduates at the University of Massachusetts, Patrick called it a "cradle to career" education plan.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is proposing a federal program that would have as its goal providing government-funded preschool education for all 4-year-olds in the country. Under her plan, federal funds would go to states that agree to establish a plan for voluntary preschool education for all 4-year-olds. States already providing such programs would receive money to expand or enhance them. Teachers would be required to have at least a bachelor’s degree and specialization in early childhood education. Funding would start out at $5 billion and expand to $10 billion within five years. States could use the funds to expand Head Start.
Mississippi's first moves toward state-funded early childhood education suffered a setback recently when Governor Haley Barbour’s Early Learning and Collaborative Act of 2007 failed to get funding from the legislature. Barbour had halved the $10 million proposal submitted by state education chief Hank Bounds for state pre-K and made it a $5 million grant program for early childhood programs that wouldn't necessarily be pre-K. According to the recent Prekindergarten in the South report from the Southern Education Foundation, both black and white students in Mississippi score near the bottom on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading, math and science.
A new report from the National Center for Children in Poverty charts the stark disparities that exist among the states with regard to the development and well-being of children. Among the findings in State Early Childhood Policies: Improving the Odds are these:

  • 10 million children under six are vulnerable to poor school outcomes and poor health due to poverty and economic hardship.

  • Only 15 states provide access to both health insurance and child care subsidies for a family of three earning about $35,000 per year.

  • Between 2001 and 2006, 33 states reduced eligibility for child care subsidies.

  • Of the 27 states that increased funds for pre-K since 2002, 15 decreased funds for child care subsidies.

Children born four to eight weeks premature are more likely than full-term peers to struggle in kindergarten and grade school, say Stanford University Medical Center researchers who used the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort to compare 1,000 premature children with 13,000 children born full term. The kids were tracked from kindergarten to fifth grade. "Maybe these conditions carry long-term risk for brain development," said pediatric developmental specialist and co-author Trenna Sutcliffe. These findings are similar to those of other researchers who have found that low birth weight is associated with lower educational attainment and worse labor market and health outcomes when the children reach adulthood. Read more at http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2007/may9/med-premature-050907.html.


June 10, 2007 - June 13, 2007
Pittsburgh, PA – Join early education professionals at the National Association for the Education of Young Children's annual institute.
June 25, 2007 - June 28, 2007
Washington, DC – This annual conference provides participants with opportunities to learn new skills and best practices in working with infants, toddlers and their families.
July 23, 2007 - July 25, 2007
Little Rock, AR – Leadership and staff development conference for educators interested in Schools of the 21st Century, early care and education, family resource centers, community schools, and other school-based family support programs.

Early Education News Roundup

May 31, 2007
The Times-Tribune, Scranton, PA
[U.S. Senator Bob] Casey, D-Pa., wants the federal government further in on the push for more preschool education. He has introduced a bill, S. 1374, the Prepare All Kids Act of 2007, to set aside $5 billion a year starting in the federal fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 to aid states that want to boost preschools.
May 30, 2007
The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, IA
About 4,800 Iowa 4-year-olds will be able to attend preschool next year at no charge to their parents under rules laid out Tuesday by the Iowa Board of Education. Gov. Chet Culver earlier this spring signed into law a $15 million voluntary plan that will expand preschool options next year. School districts can apply for state money to expand or create programs or work with local providers.
May 30, 2007
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Five-year-olds can come to approximate solutions for addition and subtraction problems even before they formally learn arithmetic, a new study suggests. The researchers built on previous work to see if children could use basic concepts about "more" and "less" to solve math problems -- without the pressure of getting an exact amount.
May 30, 2007
The Morning News, Springdale, AR
A proposed rule requiring classroom teachers in the Arkansas Better Chance Program to hold bachelor's degrees will be rewritten because of concerns raised by state lawmakers, a state Education Department official said Wednesday. The rule, approved last month by the state Board of Education, was criticized Wednesday by members of the Administrative Rules and Regulations Committee of the Arkansas Legislative Council, which reviews the rules and regulations of all state agencies.
May 29, 2007
Knoxville News-Sentinel
Some parents and child-care experts say the state's child-care rating system, the Star Quality Program, has led to improvements in care. The ratings, which award child-care programs with up to three stars for going beyond the state's minimum licensing standards, aren't perfect, but have established uniform standards, they say.
May 25, 2007
Times Argus, Barre, VT
One worry was that if state-supported early education was expanded in Vermont it would drive private nursery schools out of business. So the bill stipulates that new programs begun by school districts operate in collaboration with private providers where possible.
May 23, 2007
The Washington Post
Kindergarten used to be mostly about play: singing songs, "housekeeping" in a Little Tikes kitchen and being read to. That is changing largely because of full-day kindergarten, which has swept the nation's public schools in the past 20 years, stretching the instructional day from 2 1/2 hours to six. The new kindergarten is partly a societal concession to busy two-income families and partly a response to the growing sense that 5-year-olds are ready for formal study.
May 22, 2007
Portland Press Herald, Portland, ME
Research and my experience have shown me that helping kids get the right start in life is one key to preventing crime. Quality programs like Head Start and Early Head Start reduce later crime. These programs not only provide our nation's most vulnerable children with a social and educational foundation; they are also a crime prevention tools.
May 21, 2007
Hattiesburg American, Hattiesburg, MS
[A] recent report by the Southern Education Foundation bore welcome news - the South leads the nation in terms of pre-kindergarten education, the report found. Perhaps unsurprisingly to residents weary of reading of Mississippi's educational failings, the Magnolia state is the sole exception, the only Southern state without a state-supported pre-k program.
May 18, 2007
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Teachers who want to educate Pennsylvania's youngest children will face new certification requirements before they can enter the classroom. In six years, Pennsylvania plans to require an early-childhood education certificate for teachers of students in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade under rules adopted yesterday by the State Board of Education.
May 18, 2007
The Daily Citizen, Dalton, GA
Georgia's Bright from the Start is looking for ways to improve teacher education and facilities, the department's director said here Friday. "We want to evaluate schools and see how they care for their facilities," said Marsha Moore, director of Bright from the Start, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, during a luncheon with the department's "community partners" at Dalton State College.
May 17, 2007
Deseret Morning News, Salt Lake City, UT
Percentage-wise, Utah has more preschoolers than any other state, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released today. Yet even with 247,801 kids younger than 5 years old making up 9.7 percent of the state's population, Utah has no state-funded preschool program.
May 16, 2007
The Miami Herald
This year, for the first time, parents can go online to see how well preschools that participated in the [Florida's] free pre-K program last year are teaching children. Schools were scored on how ready this year's 5-year-olds were for kindergarten. A school's "readiness rate" is based on three screening tools given in the first 30 days of kindergarten -- a teacher's observations, a student's ability to identify letters and their fluency with the beginning sounds of a word.
May 16, 2007
Idaho Statesman
Gov. Butch Otter plans to cut $2.3 million from [Head Start and Parents as Teachers] programs, in an ill-advised effort to plug a hole in the Department of Health and Welfare budget. Once again, Idaho is going backward on pre-kindergarten programs — when the state should help parents prepare their children for the increasing demands of elementary school.
May 15, 2007
The Morning Call, Allentown, PA
Indication of a shift in how we prioritize children in Pennsylvania was clear at the Pre K Counts Leadership Council meeting. About 100 business, education, and civic leaders joined Gov. Rendell, Sen. Bob Casey, former Gov. Richard Schweiker, Dr. Steven Barnett (National Institute of Early Education Research), David Lawrence (The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation) and James Rohr (chairman and CEO, PNC Financial Services Group Inc.) to promote a better understanding of the need for enhanced and expanded pre-kindergarten education.