Volume 6, Issue 14

July 26, 2007

Hot Topics

The Oregon Legislature, at the urging of Governor Ted Kulongoski, has approved an additional $39 million in funding for the state contribution to Head Start. According to The Oregonian, the governor and legislature chose to dedicate the additional funds to Head Start instead of full-day kindergarten. Dell Ford, Head Start Coordinator at the Oregon Department of Education, said the new funds will boost enrollment from 57 percent of eligible children in the state to 75 percent, providing slots for an additional 3,100 children.
Among the recommendations approved by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine's Start Strong Council is one that would have the state develop a coordinated approach to delivery of high-quality preschool education by establishing a state level office that would oversee relevant early childhood programs. The state level office would receive policy direction from an advisory board selected by the governor. Other recommendations include establishing a voluntary 5-star rating system to promote program quality, adopting a common definition of school readiness, developing a coordinated system of professional development, and using direct investment and incentives to build pre-K program capacity and raise quality.
There was good news and bad news contained in the data from the 2007 Kids Count Data Book released this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. While child well-being indicators have improved somewhat for teens, they have grown worse for babies. Disparities persist in outcomes for children of color, particularly African-Americans. Four areas have worsened since last year's data book: low-birth weight babies, children in families where parents do not have full-time year-round employment, children in poverty, and children in single-parent families. The four areas of improvement were child death rate, teen birth rate, high school dropout rate, and teens not in school and not working.
Two months after the Iowa Legislature approved a state-funded pre-K program aimed at providing preschool education for all 4-year-olds, Governor Chet Culver has announced the names of the 52 school districts that will receive grants. The Iowa Department of Education selected the districts from the 176 districts that applied based on criteria contained in the new law — current availability of pre-K programs, collaborative efforts of community early childhood partners, poverty levels, and district size. The robust interest in the program at the local level has some in the education community predicting Iowa could achieve its goal of 90 percent participation before the law’s mandate of 2011.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the Anti-Defamation League's Miller Early Childhood Initiative, which trains pre-K teachers and parents in ways to confront bias among preschoolers, is being used in Los Angeles and 13 other cities. The Sesame Workshop also participates in the program. To learn more, visit http://www.adl.org/education/miller/define_difference.asp?sectionvar=1.

Calendar

August 15, 2007 - August 18, 2007
Anaheim, CA – The theme for the 17th Annual National Association for Family Child Care conference is "Foundations for the Future."
October 28, 2007 - October 30, 2007
San Diego, CA - Join participants from across the country at the National Even Start Association's 13th annual conference.

Early Education News Roundup

July 25, 2007
Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN
The 2007-08 school year is the third consecutive year the program has been expanded by an additional $25 million each year. When the new classes open, there will be a total of 934 such classes statewide, serving over 17,000 students.
July 25, 2007
Tribune Chronicle, Warren, OH
Ohio legislators did the right thing in approving a major increase in funding — about 50 percent over current levels, for pre-K programs. Now it is up to the state Department of Education and local districts to make the money go as far as possible to improve the programs, aimed at 3- and 4-year-olds in the Buckeye State.
July 24, 2007
The Oregonian
At least nine states are increasing free pre-kindergarten enrollment this year, but Libby Doggett, director of a national early childhood advocacy program called Pre-K Now, said Oregon's expansion is one of the biggest. [Governor Ted] Kulongoski and the Legislature chose Head Start expansion this year over full-day kindergarten, relying on research indicating it has a bigger payoff in achievement, graduation rates and even reduced crime.
July 23, 2007
The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette, LA
Parents of 4-year-olds across the state will have a chance this fall to give their children a jump-start toward success in school, a boost that is showing positive results in classrooms in the parishes where an innovative program exists. The program, started as a small pilot initiative by the late state Superintendent of Education Cecil Picard solely with federal funds, has gained national recognition and is being used as a model by other states.
July 19, 2007
Times Record, Fort Smith, AR
Prekindergarten teachers can earn professional development hours for free thanks to a state grant received recently by the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.
July 19, 2007
Richmond Times-Dispatch
A group that advises Gov. Timothy M. Kaine about pre-kindergarten issues says Virginia needs a state-level office for its early childhood programs. Aspects of early childhood education currently fall to more than one state department, including the departments of education and social services.
July 17, 2007
The Boston Globe
Start with the focus on 4-year-olds. Last month, a report on New Jersey's preschool program for children in high-poverty districts suggested that children do better when they have two years of preschool, according to researchers at the National Institute for Early Education Research. So it could make more sense to offer preschool seats to 3-year-olds.
July 16, 2007
Los Angeles Times
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's $50-million preschool initiative, passed in 2006, has not yet brought universal preschool education to needy cities such as Santa Ana. Despite being flush with new state money, Santa Ana still lacks the buildings, open space for playgrounds, parents who can afford the schools, and qualified providers to create a successful citywide preschool program.
July 15, 2007
Daytona Beach News-Journal
The sociological and educational benefits alone justify a public investment in preschoolers. The Brookings Institution projects that if universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds were now offered nationwide, it would increase the gross national product by $2 trillion by 2080.
July 15, 2007
The News-Register, Wheeling, WV
Though Ohio established a "pre-K" state program in 1990, it has been very slow in getting off the ground. In comparison to many other states — even West Virginia, where funding for education is even more limited — Ohio has not done at all well in building the program.
July 13, 2007
The State, Columbia, SC
Retired Judge Thomas Cooper Jr. won't reconsider his ruling in a long-running dispute over school funding. Cooper on Thursday affirmed his December 2005 findings that South Carolina provides its public school students a "minimally adequate education" but should do more to offer help to children from the time they are born until they reach the third grade.
July 13, 2007
Pioneer Press, St. Paul, MN
Parents struggling to choose the best preschool or day care for their children soon could get help as Minnesota begins testing a way to rate early education programs. The Department of Human Services will rate providers on a point system based on a variety of areas, including staff experience and qualifications, family education, adult-child interactions and the progress of children in the program.

Resources

by Dorothy S. Strickland and Shannon Riley-Ayers

This new book published by Teacher's College Press and the National Association for the Education of Young Children is a practical guide to literacy development for those in leadership roles in the early childhood field. Written by NIEER Distinguished Research Fellow Dorothy S. Strickland and NIEER Assistant Research Professor Shannon Riley-Ayers, it discusses how all domains of child development work in conjunction to promote early literacy, provides detailed literacy strategies for leaders such as school principals and administrators, and addresses contemporary issues such as the movement toward accountability and assessment. A full review of the book will appear in the next issue of Preschool Matters magazine. To order, visit http://www.amazon.com/Literacy-Leadership-Early-Childhood-Essential/dp/0807747726.
Two well-known researchers, Jens Ludwig (University of Chicago) and Deborah Phillips (Georgetown University), review what is known about Head Start's impacts on children and apply a cost-benefit analysis, concluding that the program is likely to generate benefits to participants and society as a whole — and that the dollar value of the benefits are larger than the costs. The analysis is reported in the current issue of Social Policy Report, along with commentary from NIEER Director Steve Barnett as well as Thomas D. Cook and Vivian C. Wong of Northwestern University.