Volume 6, Issue 8

April 27, 2007

Hot Topics

The Iowa Senate approved on a bi-partisan vote an initiative aimed at making at least 10 hours per week of state-funded preschool education available to all 4-year-olds on a voluntary basis. Passed earlier by the House, the measure calls for spending an additional $15 million in each of the next four years to provide pre-K to an estimated 28,000 additional children. It calls for teachers with degrees in each classroom and for the K-12 system to help manage issues of budgeting, personnel and facilities. Governor Chet Culver is expected to sign the bill into law.
A tragedy in which a child drowned has focused a harsh light on the woeful state of child care facilities inspections in California. The state used to inspect facilities once every three years but according to the Sacramento Bee, the frequency has fallen to once every five years since the state made cuts to the inspection program in 2003 to save money. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a 10 percent increase in unannounced inspections this year and $2.5 million in additional funding in his budget. Assemblyman John Benoit has proposed a bill that would create a grading system for child care facilities based on state inspection. The Bee reports parents wanting inspection information must visit state offices to get it. Some states offer inspection information online.
The Texas Senate has passed a bill that would expand the number of Texas Early Education Model (TEEM) sites in the state, increase the quality of educator training, raise reimbursement rates for child care providers and beef up recruitment and retention of early childhood education staff. The bill calls for establishing partnerships between child care centers and higher education centers and an advisory council to evaluate the program and make additional recommendations. The bill must be approved by the House of Representatives before going to Governor Rick Perry. The governor has drawn praise from Pre-K Now and local advocates for proposing an additional $80 million for state-funded preschool education over two years.
A new research brief from the State University of New York at Albany and Child Trends takes a fresh look at the distribution patterns, origins, language skills and pre-K participation rates for immigrant families in the U.S. The report paints a nuanced picture of immigrant children and their families. Among the details are these:

  • Children of immigrant families comprise 10 percent or more of all children (age 0 to 17) in 22 states and 20 percent or more of all children in 10 states. They comprise less than 5 percent in only 11 states.

  • In 2030, 72 percent of the elderly (retired) population in the U.S. will be white non-Hispanics but only 56 percent of the workforce and 50 percent of the children will be white non-Hispanics.

  • Fifty-nine percent of children in immigrant families live with at least one parent who is not proficient in English.

  • Twenty-six percent of children in immigrant families live in households where nobody over the age of 13 speaks English well.

  • The rate of preschool enrollment for 4-year-olds in Mexico is 81 percent but for immigrant families from Mexico in the U.S. it is 55 percent.



  • The brief can be downloaded at: http://mumford.albany.edu/children/img/Research_brief_1.pdf.

Calendar

April 25, 2007 - April 28, 2007
Boston, MA – This conference aims to improve the quality of early care and education across the country.
May 2, 2007 - May 5, 2007
Tampa, FL – The theme of this year's conference is "Education for Transformation: Impact on the Children of the World."
May 8, 2007 - May 11, 2007
Greensboro, NC – This conference will feature many workshops covering a wide array of early childhood-related topics.
May 10, 2007 - May 12, 2007
Chicago, IL – The conference provides three days of professional development for early childhood leaders.
May 15, 2007 - May 18, 2007
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Participants will exchange ideas about the quality of services for young children in diverse settings.
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.

Early Education News Roundup

April 26, 2007
The Cincinnati Enquirer
More than half of incoming kindergartners in Cincinnati Public Schools are behind in literacy readiness, but those who attended a district preschool are better prepared to succeed, according to findings of the third annual Ohio Department of Education's Kindergarten Readiness Assessment - Literacy. While the results show a connection between attending preschool and kindergarten readiness, there are only so many preschool slots available in Cincinnati schools because the state does not provide per-pupil money for that program.
April 23, 2007
The Morning News, Springdale, AR
Significant achievement gaps exist between white and Hispanic students, but effective prekindergarten programs can help reduce those gaps, the head of a national task force said Monday. Speaking at a news conference at the state Capitol, Eugene Garcia of Arizona State University said the fact that Hispanic students lag behind their white classmates is a great concern because Hispanics constitute one-fifth of the nation's children ages 8 and under.
April 19, 2007
Florida Today
Instead of following recommendations from the state's own task force to set up a pre-K that met national standards for excellence, lawmakers delivered a bare-bones plan full of loopholes.
April 19, 2007
Honolulu Advertiser
The state has money to help needy parents defray the costs of preschool. Now it just needs more parents to apply.
April 19, 2007
Boston Globe
But it's a lot harder to set up high-quality [preschool education] programs. And it will be a multifaceted challenge for Massachusetts, which is trying to build high-quality programs in many settings, including schools, day - care centers, and home-based child - care settings.
April 15, 2007
Sunday News, Lancaster, PA
Pennsylvania is making substantial investments in preschool education and it is about time. Research has clearly shown that a high-quality preschool education improves later school success, employment and earnings.
April 15, 2007
Wise County Messenger, Decatur, TX
In a state that has the fastest growing child population in the country, the 10th largest economy in the world, and a "baby boom" generation about to retire from the workforce, we must ensure Texas remains competitive in the future. We can get there by investing in high quality early education settings such as child care, Head Start and public pre-kindergarten.

Resources

A recent article by Sara Mead, senior policy analyst at the policy think tank Education Sector, calls into question the "new conventional wisdom" that adults can make infants and very young children smarter or more successful by exposing them to the host of practices and products intended to do so. Mead says claims that children and toddlers will be smarter from listening to Beethoven or using products sold as intelligence-enhancing at such early ages are based on misinterpretations and misapplications of brain research. She says growth in brain activity does not necessarily mean learning and thinking is happening. Early education advocates, she says, have been overly eager to cite rapid growth in brain activity in the early years as justification for early education programs. She points out that the strongest evidence of positive long-term impacts from social programs such as high-quality preschool education takes place "outside the zero-to-three window." To read the article, visit http://www.educationsector.org/analysis/analysis_show.htm?doc_id=469729.