Volume 6, Issue 23

December 17, 2007

Hot Topics

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine proposed a new school funding formula this week that does away with the system of concentrating money for disadvantaged kids primarily to the so-called Abbott Districts mandated by the state Supreme Court's Abbott v. Burke decisions. Instead, he proposes distributing money based on a formula taking into account individual children's needs. Governor Corzine said the plan keeps current Abbott programs intact and addresses disadvantaged children in the other districts as well. He is also proposing expanding of full-day state pre-K beyond the Abbott Districts, where 41,000 children currently attend, to low-income children in the rest of the state.
Head Start received a new 5-year mandate when President George W. Bush signed the bill renewing and updating the program. President Bush praised the bill's provisions that increase competition among providers, raise learning standards, and enhance coordination in early childhood education. He signed the bill despite his opposition to the provision that eliminates the sometimes controversial National Reporting System that provided assessments. Research is underway to determine the next steps for an assessment system for Head Start.
The National Head Start Association is seeking a new president and CEO following the departure of the organization's longtime head, Sarah Greene. The change came after NHSA's board voted for a change at the top and announced that deputy director Michael McGrady will assume the position of interim president and CEO. After the first of the year, NHSA will conduct a national search for Greene's successor.
New Jersey's Public Health Council recommended and State Health Commissioner Fred Jacobs signed a regulation requiring children attending preschools or licensed day care to receive annual flu shots and vaccinations for pneumonia starting September 1, 2008. Some parents worried about vaccine safety and children's rights advocates oppose the measure. New Jersey is the first state to mandate flu shots for preschoolers. Earlier this year, economists Bryan L. Boulier and Robert S. Goldfarb at The George Washington University and Tejwant S. Datta at the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia concluded from their study that vaccinating children for influenza would have substantial benefits for the unvaccinated since children are frequent carriers.
Education Week reports that the new federal initiative to review reading research hit a snag when the National Institute for Literacy put on hold its much-anticipated announcement of the members who will comprise the new Commission on Reading Research. While the Institute has already recruited members, U.S. Department of Education officials are reported to still be deciding if such a panel will be established. The Commission on Reading Research was envisioned to pick up where the National Reading Panel left off but to look at a broader swath of research and studies.

New on nieer.org



Is investing public money in quality early care and education today an efficient way to ensure a skilled workforce for tomorrow? This issue of Preschool Matters takes a look at research that finds early childhood experiences have a uniquely powerful influence on the development of cognitive and social skills.



Also in Preschool Matters:



  • What to do about Challenging Behaviors in Pre-K
  • Related Reading: The Sandbox Investment
  • Newsmaker: Olivia Golden, Head of New York's Children's Cabinet
  • Mixed Report: Early Reading First

Calendar

January 31, 2008 - February 2, 2008
Vancouver, Canada – This conference will focus on realizing children's full potential by discussing how to provide more effective supports.
February 14, 2008 - February 17, 2008
Tampa, FL – This conference will seek to help improve the quality of education in America’s public schools.
March 15, 2008 - March 17, 2008
New Orleans, LA – The theme of this year's conference is "Reinventing Schools: Courageous Leadership for Positive Change."
March 26, 2008 - March 29, 2008
Atlanta, GA – The theme of this year's conference is "Beyond Standards: Reaching Every Child's Potential."
March 30, 2008 - April 1, 2008
Louisville, KY – This conference draws together national and international participants to discuss issues of relevance to family literacy.

Early Education News Roundup

December 17, 2007
The Patriot News, Harrisburg, PA
Early childhood education is proving its worth in the Harrisburg School District. A five-year study by Penn State's Prevention Research Center has found marked academic progress among kindergartners and first graders who attended preschool over those who did not.
December 11, 2007
The Washington Post
D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray wants 2,000 more children to be enrolled in pre-kindergarten classes over the next six years and wants their teachers to be more educated as part of a $50 million plan that follows a national trend to get students into the classroom earlier. Gray (D) will introduce legislation today that would give priority for pre-kindergarten classes to 3- and 4-year-old children from low-income households and those who are disabled.
December 9, 2007
Star-Gazette, Elmira, NY
The state should take over the entire cost of providing special education services to 3- and 4-year-old children -- a $432 million annual expense to counties, county executives said Friday.
December 6, 2007
Press-Register, Mobile, AL
Recently, Gov. Riley announced he will unveil a plan to significantly expand access to the pre-kindergarten program. Education officials welcomed the governor's commitment to leave fewer preschool children behind, but some have rightly stressed the importance of maintaining the current program's high standards.
December 1, 2007
Asbury Park Press, Neptune, NJ
The state's new school funding plan includes a proposal for expanding preschool programs to a level that could eventually serve 65,000 children and cost $850 million a year, according to state documents that include preliminary estimates.
November 30, 2007
The Roanoke Times
There are few investments that the state can make that will pay off as well in the long run as pre-K education of at-risk children. Even in this time of tight budgets, state leaders should find funds for this vital service.

Resources

This book, aimed primarily at parents of young children, draws on dozens of scientific studies to explore the effects of television, computers, and other forms of screen entertainment on young children — both good and bad. Author Lisa Guernsey includes sometimes alarming statistics such as the fact that 39 percent of families keep the television turned on "at all times." She also discusses the ramifications of screen time on children's time for creative play, cognitive and emotional development, and physical health.