Volume 7, Issue 13

July 11, 2008

Hot Topics

Hawaii's legislature passed Keiki First Steps (SB 2878) into law this week. The measure, passed in spite of Governor Linda Lingle's veto, sets in statute the process of creating a statewide early learning system. An early learning council consisting of members from the public and private sectors, some appointed by the governor, will be charged with developing the pre-K system. If it is to meet the goals of the state's early learning task force, it must field well-trained teachers and serve 80 percent of the state's 4-year-olds. An estimated $170 million price tag for full implementation was one reason Lingle vetoed the bill. Hawaii currently has no state-funded preschool education program.
Although he initially opposed it, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law SB 286, which aims to expand the state's LA4 Early Childhood Education Program to all the state's 4-year-olds. The new law phases-in expansion over five years from 2009-2010 to 2013-2014 using rising family income cut-offs to define eligibility until 2013 when all 4-year-olds would be eligible. The law contains language making it clear that each year of the expansion is "subject to the appropriation of funds for this purpose..." Louisiana state pre-K currently serves 25 percent of the state's 4-year-olds.
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell signed into law a state budget that delivers the largest increase in education funding since 1991. Of the $347 million in increased funding for education, $86.4 million is dedicated to Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts. The 15 percent increase will enable 800 more children to participate in the program and extend more half-day programs to full-day, says Rendell's office.
The Wall Street Journal reports scientists are using new methods to study children as young as a few months old for signs of possible autism in order to target them for further analysis and, should the disorder be diagnosed, earlier and therefore more effective therapy. Researchers at Canada's McMaster University are using computerized tests coupled with eye-movement sensors to predict the risk of autism in kids as young as 9 months. Yale's Toddler Developmental Disabilities Clinic is using similar technology to study gaze behavior in children 3 months to 3 years old, according to the Journal.
When the American Academy of Pediatricians recommended extending cholesterol screening to a broader swath of young children — as young as 2 in some cases — and treatment for high cholesterol in children as young as 8 with statins, it sparked a debate about childhood obesity and the wisdom of treating kids for protracted periods with statins. Newsweek discusses these issues with Peter Belamarich, a prominent pediatrician at Children's Hospital in New York City.
As previously reported, a study by Arlen Moller of Gettysburg College found that preschool boys performed better when they were in classes that had more girls than boys. That pattern didn't hold for girls since they performed the same regardless of whether boys or girls were in the majority. Seeking answers, the Why Boys Fail blog asked NIEER Director Steve Barnett for his thoughts. Here's what he said:

This Wednesday's edition of ExchangeEveryDay highlighted findings from NIEER's long-term study of the effects of New Jersey's Abbott Preschool Program as reported in Preschool Matters magazine. The Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study (APPLES) on which the article was based is available here: http://nieer.org/docs/index.php?DocID=173


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.
October 25, 2008 - October 28, 2008
Atlanta, GA – At this conference, participants gather to gain knowledge and acquire the skills needed to ensure a quality future for all children and youth.
October 27, 2008 - October 30, 2008
Minneapolis, MN – Attendees at this conference will explore ways to improve outcomes for young children with special needs.
November 5, 2008 - November 8, 2008
Dallas, TX – This conference features sessions providing practical information and new research on key education issues.

Early Education News Roundup

July 9, 2008
The Dover Post, Dover, DE
Governor Ruth Ann Minner signed Senate Bill 222 on July 8, establishing the Delaware Stars for Early Success program, a voluntary quality rating and improvement plan to assist families in selecting early childhood services for their children and to improve the quality of early childhood programs in the state. Under Senate Bill 222, sponsored by Senator Patricia Blevins, the Delaware Stars for Early Success is a five-level system that builds on licensing rules, setting increasingly higher standards at each star level in the following areas:

• Qualifications and Professional Development;
• Learning Environment and Curriculum;
• Family and Community Partnerships; and
• Management and Administration.

July 7, 2008
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH
The huge difference in readiness skills is evident in schools across Northeast Ohio. In many cases, the results mirror what decades of research show: The chance of a child being well-prepared for kindergarten rises right along with the parents' income and education level and the use of high-quality preschool programs.
July 6, 2008
The Montgomery Advertiser
Pumping $30 million into the program would have more than tripled the number of children enrolled in state-funded programs this school year, but it didn't happen. The state Legislature instead doubled pre-school funding with a $20 million appropriation during its last session.
July 5, 2008
The Statesman Journal, Salem, OR
The overall expansion was aimed at boosting Head Start coverage to 75 percent of all eligible children, short of the 80 percent mark that is considered full funding. As it is, because of an increased number of eligible children, the budgeted expansion will reach about 70 percent.
July 4, 2008
Boston Business Journal
The recently released recommendations of Gov. Deval Patrick and his Job Readiness Task Force provide a reform-oriented vision for education in the 21st century that will help meet this need [for a skilled workforce]. With a strong emphasis on early education, the plan strategically focuses resources where they will generate the greatest return on investment for taxpayers, providing the double benefit of training tomorrow's leaders while helping meet the needs of today's parents.
July 2, 2008
The Mercury News, San Jose, CA
In the past few months, both the Governor's Committee on Education Excellence and the Superintendent of Public Instruction's P-16 Council have offered comprehensive blueprints for education reform. Both recommend phasing in universal preschool, starting with children from low-income families and those entering low-performing elementary schools. Over the next three to five years, business leaders should work with educators and policy-makers to realize this vision and ensure, at the very least, that the children who need it most have access to a high-quality preschool.
July 2, 2008
The Tuscaloosa News, Tuscaloosa, AL
Learning a new language can be a daunting task for anyone. Combine that task with learning a new social system and arriving on time for the first day of school, and it seems like more than a five-year-old should endure.
July 2, 2008
The Express-News, San Antonio, TX
Because money is always tight, budget writers need to listen to the research about how to wrench the most impact from our tax dollars. A recent study by the Bush School for Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University found that the state stands to save at least $3.50 for every dollar it spends on high quality pre-kindergarten.
July 1, 2008
The Daily Press, Newport News, VA
The Office of Early Childhood Development is responsible for services that include the Virginia Preschool Initiative, Head Start, child care subsidies and other initiatives for children 5 and younger.
July 1, 2008
The Mississippi Press
Moss Point could become the second city in Jackson County to start up the same kind of early childhood learning program that launched in Pascagoula last year. The program, an initiative of Mississippi State University's Early Childhood Institute, offers support to parents of children up to 5 years old with the goal of improving the overall well-being of children up to 5 years old and preparing them for kindergarten.


Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution and Dan Lips at the Heritage Foundation serve as sources for this article on the presidential candidates' positions on education, including preschool education, in Investor's Business Daily.

This study (in press) compares the adult benefits for Project CARE with those of the Abecedarian Project, a related study of early childhood educational intervention for disadvantaged children. CARE replicated Abecedarian's findings on educational and vocational gains. The CARE data also supported Abecedarian's findings of reduction in marijuana use in the treatment group and adoption of a more active lifestyle, but not for patterns of child-bearing. The lead author can be contacted at campbell@mail.fpg.unc.edu.
This study (in press) compares gains made by ethnically and linguistically diverse children in poverty who attended two settings for subsidized early care and education in Miami — center-based child care and public school pre-K. Results suggest that center-based child care programs outside the public schools may be beneficial for fostering school readiness, although public school pre-K may show even greater gains in some areas. The lead author can be contacted at: awinsler@gmu.edu.