Volume 6, Issue 15

August 10, 2007

Hot Topics

A front-page story in the August 9 edition of The Wall Street Journal calls the move toward preschool education for all one of the most significant expansions in public education in the 90 years since World War I. Author Deborah Solomon draws on numerous high-profile sources to report the economic arguments fueling pre-K's growth, the strategies pursued by economists, advocates and charitable foundations favoring its expansion, and the growing ranks of political leaders supporting it. Read the article at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118660878464892191.html?mod=googlenews_wsj.
Children who attended New Mexico’s PreK showed gains that were 54 percent greater in vocabulary, 40 percent greater in math, and 118 percent greater in understanding of print concepts than gains for children not attending the program. Those results come from a just-released study conducted by NIEER and Utah State University. NIEER assistant research professor Jason Hustedt, lead author of the report, said finding such clear-cut benefits for a program that just started is encouraging. New Mexico launched the program in 2005-2006. Read the report at http://nieer.org/docs/index.php?DocID=183.
A recently released NIEER analysis shows working families with household incomes in the $30,000 to $50,000 range will be hard-pressed to afford high-quality preschool education for their children. That's because income eligibility guidelines for targeted programs in many states and Head Start are too low for families in this range. While they may not live in poverty they are, says NIEER Director Steve Barnett, "just getting by and can't afford high-quality preschool education for their children." States that set income eligibility higher serve relatively few children. Read the release at http://nieer.org/mediacenter/index.php?PressID=76.
University of Minnesota researcher Arthur J. Reynolds reports that by age 24, children who had participated in the Chicago Child-Parent Center preschools were more likely to have finished high school and be attending college, more likely to have health insurance coverage, less likely to be arrested for a felony or incarcerated, and less likely to have depressive symptoms. Reynolds and his colleagues report their latest findings in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Teachers and parents responding to the PNC Study of Early Childhood Education said children are more likely to succeed in school if they have the social skills to participate and learn in the classroom. They rated academic skills of children entering kindergarten as less essential. Regarding social skills, teachers said today's children entering school are less well prepared to listen, follow directions and share with others. On the academic side, both parents and teachers rated children lowest on being able to read and write letters of the alphabet. About 1,000 parents and 500 teachers participated in the survey.
University of Washington researchers say their study shows that for every hour per day babies spent watching baby videos, they learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched them. Pediatrician Dimitri Christakis, a leader of the study, said the more videos the babies watched the fewer words they knew and that the video-watching group scored about 10 percent lower than non-watchers on language skills. The videos, which are marketed with a claim of raising children's mental abilities, are designed to engage babies' attention with images and music but have limited verbal dialogue. In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a recommendation that no children under 2 years old watch any television.

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

August 10, 2007
The Oklahoman
W. Steven Barnett, director of Rutgers University-based National Institute for Early Education Research, spoke to the National Research Council in Washington about the financial barriers keeping many middle-class families from enrolling their children in quality educational programs before they start kindergarten. In most parts of the United States, families making between $30,000 and $50,000 a year must pay for private preschool, barring many from attending.
August 7, 2007
Denver Post
Voters in November narrowly approved the sales-tax increase of 1.2 cents on every $10 purchase to pay for the program, which is expected to generate $10.6 million by year's end. Denver County residents with 4-year-olds may apply for the money to attend preapproved preschools that meet specific standards, said Adele Phelan, director of the program.
August 7, 2007
The Capital, Annapolis, MD
Like Davidsonville, many of the schools were built for traditional half-day kindergarten classes. But this fall, when the schools are required by the state to offer full-day kindergarten, they'll have to find room for twice the previous number of kindergartners.
August 6, 2007
MSNBC
In 1999, [developmental psychologist and researcher Rebecca] Marcon published a study in the journal Developmental Psychology that looked at 721 4-year-olds selected from three different preschool models: play based, academic (adult directed) and middle of the road (programs that did not follow either philosophy). "What we found in our research then and in ongoing studies is that children who were in a [play-based] preschool program showed stronger academic performance in all subject areas measured compared to children who had been in more academically focused or more middle-of-the-road programs," says Marcon.
August 5, 2007
Honolulu Advertiser
Learning begins at birth and happens in everyday moments whether at home, in an early- education setting, or playing with friends. As educators, we must offer environments where children's learning is nurtured, where children question what they see and hear, look for solutions to problems and engage in conversations with adults who are educated to foster the developing child's natural desire to learn.
August 2, 2007
Santa Fe New Mexican
New Mexico's pre-kindergarten program has helped children improve their early learning in language, math and the development of literacy skills, according to a study of the first year of the educational initiative. Gov. Bill Richardson released the study Thursday and urged next year's Legislature to continue expanding the program to make preschool services available to all 4-year-olds in New Mexico.
July 31, 2007
Bristol Herald Courier
A proposed pre-kindergarten program would be available to all children across the state through partnerships with public, private and faith-based programs, Gov. Tim Kaine said here Monday. The Start Strong initiative, which will be formally unveiled next month, would rely heavily on existing, accredited programs, Kaine said.
July 30, 2007
The Telegraph-Forum, Bucyrus, OH
An important piece of educational legislation was passed Monday, aimed at training and recruiting high-quality early education teachers. The Early Childhood Education Professional Development and Career System Grants Act will allow states to use federal grants for this purpose.
July 29, 2007
Detroit Free Press
High-quality, accessible preschool takes years to plan. The sooner Michigan begins, the better its chances of building on the legacy that the Perry research started and catching up to the nation's early education leaders.

Resources

This policy brief from Pre-K Now examines the unique challenges facing military families with preschool aged children and discusses what states can do to support the early education needs of children of military families living within their borders. The brief highlights efforts in Kansas and Texas to extend eligibility for state-funded programs to children of military families and proposes five policy solutions for states to consider. It's available at http://www.preknow.org/documents/Pre-KforMilitaryFamilies_Jul2007.pdf.
Child and family therapist Kimberley Clayton Blaine, a mother of two and former pre-K teacher, has launched a new website, The Go-To Mom, which is devoted to parenting issues, discipline strategies and advice on issues related to preschool. The site has a television format and Blaine takes questions live from parents.