Volume 6, Issue 12

June 29, 2007

Hot Topics

Protracted, sometimes rancorous budget negotiations between Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Legislature continue to wreak havoc on education. Local school districts have contemplated curtailing some services, including pre-K, while universities are pondering tuition hikes to cover possible budget shortfalls. Some worry whether Granholm can deliver on her proposed $200 million expansion in state-funded preschool education. At issue are the state's $1.5 billion deficit and the governor's proposed state income and sales tax hikes. This week, Granholm said the Legislature would not leave for summer break before a budget deal is reached.
According to a tally from Stateline.org, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington are among states that have so far answered the calls from their governors to boost funding for state-funded pre-K. Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe requested and the Legislature approved $40 million for state pre-K. Iowa's Chet Culver won bipartisan approval for $60 million to begin making state-funded pre-K available to all 4 year olds. Topping the list is New York Governor Elliot Spitzer with an increase of almost $146 million. Most recently, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine signed a budget appropriations bill that allocates $10 million for expansion of state-funded preschool education.
Florida is measuring the effectiveness of its state pre-K providers by applying a "readiness rate" based on how well children who attended the programs do on three tests in kindergarten. So far, 556 of the 3,700 providers are in the range designated as low performing. The low performers must develop improvement plans over the summer and if they don't score higher next year, they could lose state funding. Critics of the measurement say since Florida doesn't establish a baseline of what children know when they enter pre-K, there's no way to accurately know how much they learned in the programs, regardless of their kindergarten test scores.
A new report from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids suggests that if Head Start were fully funded, it could increase graduation rates by 10 percentage points. That, says the report, would decrease murder and assault by 20 percent, motor vehicle theft by 13 percent and arson by 8 percent. Economists Lance Lochner, University of Western Ontario, and Enrico Moretti, University of California, Davis, calculated the reductions in crime using their research on how graduation rates affect crime. The report is available at

http://www.fightcrime.org/reports/gradrates.report.pdf.

Calendar

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.
July 24, 2007 - July 26, 2007
Washington, DC – The GSA’s annual conference provides an opportunity for participants to network with colleagues from across the nation.

Early Education News Roundup

June 26, 2007
"A Place of Our Own," PBS
How you talk and listen to a child is so important because language is the most important thing a young child will learn. All future learning will come from language.
June 26, 2007
The Honolulu Advertiser
Today, our legislators face critical decisions about whether and how much to invest in high-quality pre-schools to give our youngest children a better start on life. Unlike our kindergarten pioneers at the turn of the 19th century, we have ample cognitive evidence to know with near certainty how critical high-quality early education is for the well-being of our families and the future of our state.
June 25, 2007
The Indianapolis Star
Fully funding full-day kindergarten -- and making sure it is an effective program -- must be foremost on the minds of legislators and other state officials. It's time for Indiana to join the rest of the nation in expanding and improving options for early childhood education.
June 24, 2007
The Washington Post
Children such as these in the polyglot Washington region often surprise their parents with language feats learned in day care. The large number of foreign-born care providers in the area enables many parents to kick-start their children's knowledge of a second or even a third language from among a growing babel that includes Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashto, Hindi and Amharic, in addition to French and Spanish.
June 24, 2007
Wise County Messenger, Decatur, TX
Expanding and improving the quality of early education for Texas' Hispanic population should be among our highest educational priorities. One way to give our children the best possible start is to provide them with greater opportunities in the early childhood years through the PK-3 approach.
June 21, 2007
The Charlotte Observer
Fewer 4-year-olds soon will attend the first day of school, and the sponsor of legislation to make the change says it will result in more confident and capable students. The General Assembly gave final approval Thursday to legislation that pushes back the cutoff birth date for children to enter kindergarten each fall by several weeks.
June 21, 2007
Great Falls Tribune, Great Falls, MT
The legislation that [Governor Brian] Schweitzer signed Wednesday contains $10 million for startup costs for all-day kindergarten. Districts, such as Great Falls, that already have such programs, can apply the money elsewhere.
June 20, 2007
The Examiner, Washington, DC
San Francisco children are doing better, on average, than those in other counties across the state, according to a new study released Monday, but family advocates say the numbers don't reveal the disparity between different income and racial subgroups. Not surprisingly, the data reveals that, according to the report's "critical indicators," children fare better in counties where families have a higher economic well-being.
June 18, 2007
The Philadelphia Inquirer
A lot of worthy goals are competing for bucks in Harrisburg right now. In terms of long-term impact for the dollar, the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts is one of the best investments.
June 18, 2007
The Star-Ledger, Newark, NJ
The news is heartening: A study of 2,300 children from the state's neediest school districts shows children who attended state-funded preschool programs in poor districts did substantially better than other kids in kindergarten.

Resources

This policy brief from the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) provides five major policy recommendations for easing the transition to kindergarten for young children, especially those with learning disabilities. Among these recommendations are mandating universal developmental screening of cognitive skills and increasing awareness of early warning signs of learning difficulties.
This paper looks at research on initiatives ensuring access to preschool for children who need it most – those in working families and those in low-income households. The paper also discusses key strategies to address the needs of low-income working families and examines the extent to which state preschool education policies currently do so.
This brief from the National Center for Children in Poverty highlights effective preschool curricula and teaching strategies to help low-income young children close the achievement gap in early literacy and math.
This video from Educational Productions emphasizes that the skills children learn and practice in high-quality preschool education programs are the same skills that employers value most.