Volume 7, Issue 19

October 31, 2008

Hot Topics

Several states have announced they're expecting large budget deficits for FY 2010, Iris J. Lav of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities told the House Budget Committee. She said she expects total state deficits for 2010 to be $100 billion or more, since state deficits reached $75 to $80 billion during the economic downturn that occurred earlier this decade. Lav said state deficits are more damaging to the economy than federal deficits because they lead directly to spending cuts and tax increases that reduce demand. She said $50 billion is needed in federal relief that should come in the form of an increased federal share of the Medicare tab and money to prevent cuts in education. Read her testimony at http://www.cbpp.org/10-20-08sfp-testimony.htm.
Over the past week, three Northeastern governors, Jon Corzine of New Jersey, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, and David Patterson of New York have said even high-priority programs such as pre-K must be put on the table for possible cuts to help fill widening budget gaps. Governor Corzine said cuts in pre-K would be a last resort. Governor Patrick cut the Massachusetts Department of Early Education by $14 million. Governor Patterson has called for a lame duck session of the Legislature after the elections to figure out how to deal with what he is projecting to be a $47 billion deficit over the next four years. He says he needs $2 billion in cuts just to balance this year's budget.
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Utah are the first states to form partnerships with the Washington, DC-based New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, the group that will fund projects based on the recommendations in its 2006 report, Tough Choices or Tough Times. Created to address issues of global workforce competitiveness, the report recommends, among other things, creating public preschool for all children. Neither New Hampshire nor Utah currently has a state-funded pre-K program.
An independent panel of experts appointed by the FDA to review its conclusions on the safety of bisphenol-A, a plastic used in products like baby bottles and toys, has issued a report highly critical of the agency. The panel said FDA ignored important studies and used flawed methods in reaching its conclusion that bisphenol A does not pose a meaningful risk to children or adults. Some researchers have said the chemical may adversely affect the development of young children since it appears to have estrogen-like effects. Canada has announced it is drawing up regulations to ban baby bottles containing the compound.
New Jersey, the first state to require flu shots before children enter pre-K, saw hundreds of parents and anti-vaccination activists protest the measure at the state capital in Trenton and support a bill that would make the shots voluntary. New Jersey's flu vaccination policy follows the Centers for Disease Control recommendation that children aged 6 months to 18 years receive flu shots.
A Canadian study has found that victims of bullies share traits like aggressiveness in early childhood, overly stern parents, and low socioeconomic status. Dr. Mara Brendgen and colleagues divided children into three categories — low, moderate, or chronic levels of victimhood. The chronic victims were mostly boys. The research is reported in the current issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
The third randomized study of Even Start has found what two preceding studies found: Children in the program didn't make statistically significant gains in early literacy and language development as a result of the program. Unlike the first two studies, which compared Even Start kids to control groups, the current study looked at whether the Even Start Classroom Literacy Interventions and Outcomes program was more effective than existing Even Start instructional services. While the program didn't have statistically significant impacts on any of the child language development and early literacy outcomes, it did have impacts on pre-K instruction, parenting instruction and outcomes, and child social competence.

Calendar

November 5, 2008 - November 8, 2008
Dallas, TX – This conference features sessions providing practical information and new research on key education issues.
November 6, 2008 - November 7, 2008
Ontario, Canada – This conference will provide participants with the opportunity to explore current priority issues effecting immigrant and refugee families.
November 7, 2008 - November 10, 2008
Denver, CO – This conference will provide professional development for school business professionals.
November 10, 2008 - November 11, 2008
Bethesda, MD – This conference will explore services for children and youth with disabilities.
November 13, 2008 - November 15, 2008
Cambridge, MA – This conference will draw on the latest research, case studies, and presentations from successful leaders and practitioners to discuss successful PK–3 programs.
November 13, 2008 - November 16, 2008
Garden Grove, CA – The theme for the American Montessori Society Fall 2008 conference is Excellence in Action.
November 16, 2008 - November 18, 2008
San Francisco, CA – This conference will focus on broadening access to high-quality education.
December 5, 2008 - December 7, 2008
Los Angeles, CA – This conference will offer participants opportunities to discover the latest research on infants and toddlers and to discuss the history and future of the field with colleagues.
December 8, 2008 - December 10, 2008
Washington, DC – The theme of this year's conference is "Building Partnerships for Effective Change."
December 10, 2008 - December 10, 2008
Washington, DC – This conference will broadcast to hundreds of sites throughout the country.

Early Education News Roundup

October 31, 2008
The News Journal, Wilmington, DE
Passing new regulations and requiring more staff education and other systemic initiatives are much easier to implement than addressing the fundamental problem of paying early-education teachers a reasonable, living wage that reflects the importance of the work they do. But keeping current teachers and attracting new qualified teachers will not be possible if this issue is not addressed.
October 30, 2008
The Gazette, Gaithersburg, MD
Under state law, public schools are required to provide pre-kindergarten to all income-eligible children who turn four by Sept. 1 of the school year. Children who qualify for pre-kindergarten who have birthdays from Sept. 2 to Oct. 15 may enter pre-kindergarten if they have "demonstrated educational needs."
October 28, 2008
The Virginian-Pilot
Supporters say an extra grade before first can be a gift of time for certain students who aren't ready. Among public schools, 102 students were enrolled in transition first-grade classes in Virginia last fall.
October 28, 2008
Education Week
The use of rating scales as a way to encourage child-care centers and preschools to improve their programs continues to increase in popularity across the states, even as researchers say states need to do more to share what they find and to demonstrate whether rating systems improve children's learning.
October 24, 2008
The Hoya, Washington, DC
Outside of the Autism and Communication Disorders Clinic, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development [GUCCHD] currently encompasses 31 other projects and programs, including government-funded Head Start programs, such as Bright Beginnings, a pre-kindergarten day center for children of families living in transitional housing, and Jumpstart, a mentoring and tutoring program powered by student volunteers. The center also offers community outreach programs and promotes grassroots actions and policy changes, advocating for more inclusive policies for those with developmental and special mental needs on the local, national and even international level.
October 23, 2008
San Francsico Chronicle
Rigorous studies in the United States and elsewhere find that pre-K programs with high standards improve the school readiness of children from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Pre-K repeatedly has been found to improve test scores in kindergarten and beyond. Findings include lasting gains in test scores for even highly advantaged children.
October 23, 2008
Columbia Basin Herald, Moses Lake, WA
Parents in Head Start are eligible to receive a free book, thermometer, measuring spoon and training as part of the project. Emergency room visits decreased by 58 percent for past participants in the program, according to 2007 data from the Health Care Institute.
October 22, 2008
News-Journal, Longview, TX
The Texas School Ready! certification program determines whether children are being prepared for kindergarten in their licensed child care, Head Start or public pre-K classrooms. Once students enter kindergarten, they are tested on their reading and social development, said Layne Waxley, a school readiness project coordinator for the Texas Early Education Model.
October 22, 2008
The Boston Globe
Now neuroscientists, using high-tech brain scans, are seeking to answer these questions by examining what goes on in the brain when a person aces or flunks marshmallow-type tasks. They aim to use their findings to figure out how to train people to control themselves better, whether that means focusing on the potential pitfalls of a mortgage broker's pitch or concentrating on the calorie count of a brownie.
October 21, 2008
The Missourian, Washington, MO
Paying attention to the direction her students want to go with their lesson is one of the key components of The Growing Place Preschool in Augusta, and one of the reasons it was recognized earlier this year at the Missouri Preschool Project (MPP) Summer Conference held this past summer in Columbia. MPP is administered through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Early Childhood section, and one of its major aims is to support high quality programming for young children, explains Judy Kulczycki, a consultant who visits and evaluates the MPP preschools.
October 20, 2008
The News Journal, Wilmington, DE
The Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood will provide professional development opportunities. Through workshops, seminars and courses, the institute has plans to serve a wide class of practitioners such as early interventionists and those who work with children with disabilities.
October 20, 2008
The Press of Atlantic City
As public school districts make plans to meet the new state mandate for expanded public preschool, they are also grappling with how to make sure teachers who work with those children have the required state certifications.

Resources

Arizona State University professor Eugene E. Garcia and colleague Delis Cuéllar answer this question in an in-depth article in the online journal Teachers College Record. They present the statistics showing that children with ethnic and racial backgrounds considered the minority today will emerge as the majority by 2035. Garcia and Cuéllar also discuss the cultural and social ramifications as immigrants become change agents, cultural models evolve, and society — as well as our education system — adapts.
This report is the product of a call by eight national organizations for reinvention of higher education programs for professionals working with children from birth to age 5. Author Valora Washington, president of the CAYL Institute, illustrates what can be achieved when policymakers, constituents, and education leaders work together to improve teacher education and provides illustrations from states like New Jersey and New Mexico.
This guide, developed by The National Forum on Early Childhood Program Evaluation, is designed to help prepare decision-makers to become better consumers of evaluation information such as that provided by pre-K program evaluations. It is organized around five questions consumers of evaluation studies should ask.