Volume 7, Issue 18

October 10, 2008

Hot Topics

The State Revenue Report released this week by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government offers cold comfort to those seeking new funding. Nationally speaking, there was a 1.4 percent decline in sales taxes, 8.3 percent decline in corporate income taxes and 3.4 percent decline in motor fuel taxes in the April–June quarter. These were offset by an increase in income taxes, but the report cautions that was based on 2007 income and advises states to expect a sharp drop in income tax collections going forward since payments based on current economic activity are much weaker. A number of governors are taking anticipatory measures to address the situation.
The difficult economy hasn't stopped candidates from pushing pre-K. From Delaware to Kansas to North Dakota, candidates for state office are making it a campaign issue. Delaware gubernatorial candidates Bill Lee and Jack Markell both tout early education programs as central to creating a world-class education system in the state. In Kansas, State Senator Jim Barnett and Carol Strickland, a House candidate, are extolling the positives of investing in pre-K. Incumbent North Dakota Governor John Hoeven, who is seeking a third term, says he will ask the legislature for $10 million in state aid for preschools, along with money for new child care facilities and mandatory background checks for their workers.
The McCain and Obama campaigns address preschool education on their websites, but little has been said about pre-K during the presidential debates. Pre-K Now invites preschool advocates to send their pre-K questions for the candidates to veteran CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer, who will select what will be asked at the last debate. To submit a question, visit Pre-K Now's website.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill establishing an advisory committee that will develop recommendations for improving the quality of child care and pre-K. He also signed a bill that streamlines funding and consolidates all the early childhood education programs under the California State Preschool Program.

The year-end report on the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts program indicates that 94 percent of the children attending finished the school year with age-appropriate skills and behavior or emerging age-appropriate skills and behavior. Sixty-three percent of the lead teachers have obtained or are working toward teacher certification in early childhood education. The $86.4 million program — $11.4 million of it coming by way of an increase last year — serves about 11,800 children. Of the children served, 95 percent have at least one risk factor for school failure.

NIEER Activities

NIEER Co-Director Ellen Frede served as an expert witness at a Washington, DC hearing designed to motivate Latino leaders to provide opportunities in the early schooling of young Latino children. The hearing, held by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, included Dr. Frede on a panel presenting case studies of state programs that have been effective in providing high-quality preschool education experiences for Latino children. Dr. Frede discussed the features of New Jersey's successful state-funded preschool programs in the state's lowest income school districts.



In addition to Dr. Frede, Kristie Kaurez from the office of Colorado Lt. Governor Barbara O'Brien and Jesse H. Ruiz, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education participated in the panel. The panel was part of a larger legislative hearing presented by NALEO and was sponsored in part by Pre-K Now and The Foundation for Child Development.

Calendar

October 20, 2008 - October 21, 2008
Sacramento, CA – This conference provides child development leaders with the opportunity to discuss current public policy initiatives with colleagues.
October 22, 2008 - October 24, 2008
Lihue, HI – This conference will focus on how to grow an early childhood organization while maintaining quality services for children.
October 24, 2008 - October 26, 2008
Los Angeles, CA – This conference aims to empower educators to help break through barriers to higher student achievement.
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 26, 2008 - October 30, 2008
St. Louis, MO – This conference aims to bring Head Start leaders together to strengthen their skills in an effort to further positive outcomes for children and their families.
October 27, 2008 - October 30, 2008
Minneapolis, MN – Attendees at this conference will explore ways to improve outcomes for young children with special needs.
October 28, 2008 - October 31, 2008
Washington, DC – This conference aims to describe and disseminate approaches and resources that foster dual language development in young children, including their acquisition of the English language.

Early Education News Roundup

October 10, 2008
The Topeka Capital-Journal
Pre-K programs seem to be a good cause, and there are far worse ways to spend taxpayer dollars than on than education. But lawmakers must proceed cautiously in determining whether to boost spending.
October 9, 2008
North Central News, San Antonio, TX
Many working parents rely on state subsidized child care to meet their needs, but in 2007 the statewide waiting list for subsidized care rose from 17,000 in January to 46,000 by October. Under these conditions, working parents sometimes make the tough decision to turn to unregulated child care.
October 8, 2008
Education Week
An early-childhood curriculum that aims to help youngsters control their impulses, recall and use what they've learned, and adjust when circumstances change—skills known as executive function—has been getting attention in the research world of late. But researchers aren't coming to the same conclusions about the effectiveness of the program, called Tools of the Mind, at preparing children for school.
October 8, 2008
The Minot Daily News, Minot, ND
The North Dakota Commission on Education Improvement is pondering whether to fund a preschool program. The commission also discussed whether a state preschool program should be open to all children or just to at-risk populations.
October 7, 2008
The Jackson Citizen Patriot, Jackson, MI
The state is among those that despite a poor economy is still investing additional dollars in preschool, according to a recent report by Pre-K Now, a Washington D.C-based advocacy organization. The Michigan Legislature has invested $5 million more in pre-k for fiscal year 2009, increasing funding for the state's Great Start Readiness Program to $103.5 million, the report said.
October 7, 2008
Bangor Daily News, Bangor, ME
Starting next fall, any school district that voluntarily holds a pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds must provide transportation to and from school for those children, even if their parents choose not to have them ride. The result could be millions of dollars in additional costs to Maine schools and bus companies.
October 6, 2008
The Detroit News
More and more Michigan preschools are infusing age-appropriate academics in their curriculums, in part because the state curriculum for preschool and kindergarten demands it, said Jan Ellis, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Education. Some experts say such experiences, especially when introduced through play, are beneficial for toddlers, who are capable of grasping the foundation subjects they'll tackle later.
October 6, 2008
The Norwich Bulletin, Norwich, CT
A state study released in July showed a teacher shortage in bilingual education in grades prekindergarten through 12. About 40 percent of the vacancies remained open, including 21 bilingual education positions and 43 Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.
October 6, 2008
Triangle Business Journal, Raleigh, NC
How much do four-year-olds know about science? It's a question researchers at the University of Texas Center for Science and Math Education are pondering thanks to a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant will help fund Building BLOCKS for Science, a program launched in September that seeks to determine what young people should know about science by the time they enter kindergarten.
October 6, 2008
The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, LA
Today, Louisiana is one of only eight states with legislation to provide pre-K for all children, one of only 15 states with a quality rating system for child care centers, and is among the top states in ensuring health coverage for low income children. In other states, the economic development leaders are blazing the trail in support of their young children.

Resources

While it's well-known that children born to poor and uneducated parents are more likely to suffer poor health, it is not common knowledge that substantial health gaps exist between children from middle-income families and the children of the wealthy. The authors of a study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America document these disparities and say they are so entrenched in areas like eating habits that a major expansion in health care alone would not close the gaps.
An article in the October issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry reports that empirically derived modifications of the diagnostic criteria for adults made it effective in diagnosing post-traumtic stress disorder (PTSD) in children ages 2 to 6 years old who experienced traumatic motor vehicle accidents.