Volume 7, Issue 11

June 20, 2008

Hot Topics

Children who have the most to gain from preschool are the least likely to participate, reveals a new RAND Corporation study. Lynn Karoly and colleagues surveyed more than 2,000 California households with children eligible for pre-K, interviewed teachers and administrators from 600 pre-K programs, and visited 250 center-based programs. They found while 59 percent of all preschool –aged children attend center-based programs, only 45 percent whose moms have less than a high school diploma attend. Only one in four children attending was taught by teachers with a bachelor's degree in the early childhood field or related discipline. Only 22 percent of children were in classrooms that were rated between good and excellent for space, furnishings, and activities.
A national survey of 800 voters conducted in May by Pre-K Now shows a sizable majority of voters on both sides of the aisle support more federal help when it comes to pre-K. Seven in 10 respondents support a new federal grant to help states increase the quality and availability of their pre-K programs. Close to the same percentage want state and local governments to provide pre-K for all children. A large majority of every demographic said it would be a problem if parents in their area wanted to send their kids to high-quality pre-K and there weren’t enough programs.
The annual growth in state general fund spending, which peaked at 9.3 percent in 2007, slowed to 5.3 percent in 2008 and is projected to come in at just 1 percent growth in 2009, says a report released this week by the National Governors Association and National Association of State Budget Officers. Eighteen states are assuming negative budget growth in 2009 — up from four states that did so for 2008. Medicaid spending is projected to increase 4.4 percent in 2009 — four times the growth in general funds. Over the years, general fund growth has averaged 6.7 percent.
Early education programs got a boost when Alabama's new budget doubled the allocation for the Office of School Readiness from $10 million to $20 million. Three-quarters of the increase will go to adding more than 1,000 slots to state pre-K. Head Start is to receive $950,000 and $1.7 million is for the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program. The overall state education budget decreased slightly. Governor Bob Riley has vowed to continue expanding early education for the remainder of his term.
The Wall Street Journal reports toy manufacturers, who are in favor of tighter federal toy safety standards, are frustrated because states are moving ahead of the federal government with new laws restricting things like lead content in toy paint while the federal effort to update the 1970s era national standards is so bogged down it's unlikely to be finished in time for toymakers to fill the product pipeline for the holiday season. A children's car seat maker said complying with the current mish-mash of state and federal regulation adds as much as 30 percent to the cost of the product.

Calendar

June 23, 2008 - June 25, 2008
Washington, DC – This biennial event provides participants with the opportunity to share research promoting positive development in young children.
June 30, 2008 - July 2, 2008
Austin, TX – This conference will feature sessions that will enlighten, equip, and engage conference attendees.
July 8, 2008 - July 11, 2008
San Diego, CA – This conference provides a new approach to developing leaders in the field of child care resource and referral.
July 9, 2008 - July 10, 2008
Washington, DC – The theme for this year's conference for the Partnership for America's Economic Success is "Using the Economic Message in Tough Economic Times."
July 17, 2008 - July 19, 2008
Chicago, IL – At this conference, attendees will learn the latest in early education practice.
August 6, 2008 - August 8, 2008
Quebec, Canada – This conference aims to enrich the possibilities of children's right to be educated in a culture of peace.
October 3, 2008 - October 4, 2008
Kansas City, MO – This conference focuses on key issues affecting the learning disabilities field.

Early Education News Roundup

June 20, 2008
Reno Gazette-Journal
Classes will include 50 percent English speakers who have no or limited Spanish proficiency skills and 50 percent Spanish speakers who have no or limited English skills. The program will provide instruction in both languages while encouraging cultural awareness in the process.
June 19, 2008
Gotham Gazette, New York, NY
Although New York City offers low-cost or free childcare, there are not enough places for every child. And even when a program is available, many immigrant families do not know how to navigate the complicated system to receive this service.
June 19, 2008
Public Opinion, Chambersburg, PA
An assessment at the end of the 180-day, Pre-K Counts school year determines whether children are at the right level to begin kindergarten. Areas assessed include language, literacy and math readiness, as well as social-emotional development. The Department of Education announced this week that 94 percent of Pre-K Counts children finished the school year with age-appropriate skills and behavior or emerging age-appropriate skills and behavior.
June 19, 2008
Washington Informer
The Pre-K Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2008 provides city legislators, like D.C. Council Chair Vincent C. Gray, the opportunity to "redefine what education is" and when it starts by ensuring that every family in the District has access to high quality Pre-kindergarten programs. Charlotte Brookins-Hudson, one of the authors of the act and former General Counsel to the D.C. Council, said children whose families cannot afford to put their children in private Pre-K programs are being left behind academically.
June 18, 2008
San Mateo County Times, San Mateo, CA
Many more Latino children like Josue should participate in high-quality programs such as Preschool for All, according to a new study released today by the independent nonprofit research organization RAND Corp. The study represents the first comprehensive statewide look at the quality and use of early-childhood care and education programs.
June 17, 2008
KSFY, Sioux Falls, SD
A Pre-Kindergarten Pilot Program has been set up in Sioux Falls and legislators in Brown County are taking note. Officials will have the first year results of the Sioux Falls Pre-K Pilot Program by August.
June 15, 2008
The Boston Globe
If you're also willing to turn off the set, then TV-at-your-whim can be a terrific parenting tool. In his new book "Anytime Playdate," Dade Hayes argues that the preschool TV landscape, the subject of much hand-wringing, does offer some serious teaching and parenting tools.
June 12, 2008
The Providence Journal
Because Rhode Island policy makers recognized the importance of early education to the development of foundational cognitive and social skills, policy makers wisely chose to invest state funds to provide Head Start to 400 children who would otherwise be on a waiting list. If state funds are not available, these 400 children will miss a powerful opportunity: to enter kindergarten ready to learn and succeed.
June 12, 2008
Martinsville Bulletin, Martinsville, VA
Students who took part in a Henry County preschool program earned higher test scores than their peers, according to a report presented to the school board by Dr. Dawn Holley, elementary curriculum specialist. Among 2007-08 kindergartners, 82 percent of those who participated in the state-funded Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) as 4-year-olds made the fall PALS kindergarten benchmark, Holley said.
June 10, 2008
The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, FL
Federal law requires school districts to serve children with disabilities beginning at age 3. Most of those in Volusia attended classes for part of the day and school officials assumed -- as the state allowed -- that they were exposed to typically developing children at home or in other settings once they left school. The state changed that rule in 2006-07 as it set the goal of having 76 percent of pre-K children with disabilities educated with typically developing peers by the 2010-11 school year.
June 10, 2008
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
The school has some sensory equipment in its pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms, but an entire room dedicated to sensory integration is the first of its kind in the Tupelo Public School District. The classroom provides just the right challenges for students depending on their circumstances, [special education teacher Ellen] Hill said, which could include autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.

Resources

View video clips from The Joan Ganz Cooney Center's inaugural symposium on how new interactive digital media are influencing children's education. Among the speakers are Joan Ganz Cooney, co-founder of Sesame Workshop, James Paul Gee, Professor of Literacy Studies at Arizona State University and Lisa Guernsey, author of Into the Minds of Babes: How Screen Time Affects Children from Birth to Age Five.
This study from the Public Policy Institute of California analyzed test scores of the Class of 2006 in San Diego and found that grades, test scores, and behavior reports in fourth grade were accurate predictors for whether a student would pass the California high school exit exam. The authors question the value of 11th hour interventions for students who fail the exam. Instead, they recommend investing in a strong educational foundation in the early grades, including universal prekindergarten.
New findings from an ongoing NIEER study of New Mexico 4-year-olds who attended the state's pre-K initiative show that in its second year of existence, the program continued to improve language, literacy and math development.