Volume 7, Issue 2

January 25, 2008

Hot Topics

Within days of celebrating Head Start's recent reauthorization, which authorized $460 million in new funding, the program's leaders learned the FY 2008 federal budget, which had been moving on a separate Congressional track, had dealt them a $10.6 million budget cut. "There's a big difference between authorizing funding and appropriating it," says Ben Allen, research director at the National Head Start Association. Pat Brown, acting director of the Office of Head Start has issued guidance to grantees regarding cuts. The new law permits grantees to pursue reductions in enrollment in years when there is no cost of living adjustment but the memo to grantees outlines other areas to look at first. Still, Brown anticipates some reduction in Head Start enrollment.



At a media event this week, NHSA board chairman Ron Herndon, who runs the Albina Head Start Program in Portland, Oregon, told journalists that "this White House and Congress have made and broken a billion promises when it comes to full funding for Head Start ... now we are stuck between a rock and a hard place." Brown, who is tasked with making the numbers work, says many of the programmatic mandates laid out in the reauthorization will go unfunded this year. Allen says his calculations show Head Start funding is down 11 percent since 2002 once inflation is accounted for. "We could buy a dollar's worth of services in 2002. Now we can buy 89 cents worth," he said.
California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell gave high-quality pre-K a boost when he accepted the education reform recommendations from the California P-16 Council, a statewide group of education, business and community leaders who identified providing high-quality pre-K as their first recommendation. "We must work toward the day when quality preschool is available to all California children, so no child starts school already lagging far behind his or her peers," he said. O'Connell vowed to work on legislation to consolidate and streamline existing state-funded Title V child development programs as a first step. Read the P-16 Council's report at http://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/pc/documents/yr08ctagrpt0122.pdf.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that schools across the country are re-segregating at an increasing rate as court-mandated and voluntary integration programs are dismantled. According to a report from the Civil Rights Project at Harvard, one-sixth of black and one-ninth of Latino kids attend schools where 99 percent of the students are minorities. Two-thirds of black and Latino kids in big cities attend schools where less than 10 percent of the kids are white. While the suburbs offer more potential to integrate schools, recent trends are not encouraging, says Gary Orfield, co-director of the Project. Read the report at http://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/news/pressreleases/deseg06.php.
In its January research report, The Texas Early Childhood Education Coalition addresses conclusions to be drawn from the evaluation of the Texas Early Education Model conducted by Edvance Research and sponsored by the Texas Education Agency. Titled "School Readiness Requires TEEMwork," it emphasizes three overall conclusions from the evaluation: the TEEM model positively influences teacher quality, the longer a person is a TEEM teacher the better that person gets, and in addition to teachers benefiting, so do children. The report sets the TEEM effort in the context of the larger early childhood picture in Texas, acknowledges implementation challenges and addresses key points in the evaluation that often went unreported in press coverage of the evaluation.



Edvance Research also issued a letter of clarification in response to the negative press coverage, pointing to a number of positive findings.
House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller chaired a hearing January 23 on "Investing in Early Education: Paths to Improving Children's Success." Testifying before the committee was this first-rate lineup of experts who present extensive testimony from different points of view about what the federal government should do to improve access and quality: Elisabeth Chun, Executive Director, Good Beginning Alliance, Honolulu, HI; Ron Haskins, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Eric Karolak, Executive Director, Early Care and Education Consortium; Charles Kolb, President, Committee on Economic Development; Deborah Phillips, Georgetown University and Kathleen Priestley, Early Education Coordinator for the City of Orange School District, Orange, NJ. Watch video of the hearing at this link: http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings/fc-2008-01-23.shtml.
Twenty-two years after getting its start on $2 million borrowed from the founders’ relatives and investors, Bright Horizons Family Solutions Inc., now the world's leading provider of employer-sponsored child care and early education, is being taken over by Bain Capital Partners in a business deal worth $1.3 billion. The company, which will be privately held, has more than 18,000 employees and was recently named to FORTUNE magazine's list of "The 100 Best Companies to Work For" for the ninth time. Company founders Roger H. Brown and Linda Mason still have a significant equity stake in the company.
USA Today reports that PBS has unveiled a new online community designed for 3- to 6-year-olds. Called PBS Kids Play! the web site enables children to participate in educational exercises with characters such as Curious George and the Berenstain Bears. The service, which charges a monthly fee after a trial period, joins other online communities for youngsters such as Club Penguin and Webkinz.

Calendar

January 31, 2008 - February 2, 2008
Vancouver, Canada – This conference will focus on realizing children's full potential by discussing how to provide more effective supports.
February 9, 2008 - February 12, 2008
Columbus, OH – A national literacy conference that provides professional development for classroom educators.
February 14, 2008 - February 17, 2008
Tampa, FL – This conference will seek to help improve the quality of education in America’s public schools.
March 15, 2008 - March 17, 2008
New Orleans, LA – The theme of this year's conference is "Reinventing Schools: Courageous Leadership for Positive Change."
March 26, 2008 - March 29, 2008
Atlanta, GA – The theme of this year's conference is "Beyond Standards: Reaching Every Child's Potential."
March 30, 2008 - April 1, 2008
Louisville, KY – This conference draws together national and international participants to discuss issues of relevance to family literacy.
April 16, 2008 - April 19, 2008
New Orleans, LA – This conference will host sessions on child care best practices, aiming to improve the quality of early care and education across the country.
May 6, 2008 - May 9, 2008
Greensboro, NC – This conference will focus on issues related to the development of early childhood programs and systems.

Early Education News Roundup

January 25, 2008
Omaha World-Herald
National experts and hundreds of educators were on hand Thursday morning as state officials announced that $2 million is available for grants to Nebraska providers of early childhood education. The grants are the fruit of 2006 legislative action and a related constitutional amendment that created a public-private endowment to focus on educating disadvantaged children from birth to age 3.
January 24, 2008
The Honolulu Advertiser
U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawai'i, a committee member, is pushing her bill to improve pre-kindergarten education with a $5 billion grant program targeted to increasing the number of teachers, giving states flexibility to improve curriculum quality and expanding programs serving the youngest children, aged birth to 3.
January 24, 2008
Houston Chronicle
For 50 years, this simple, private academy — which charges $30 a week per child — has delivered outsized opportunities to at-risk children. The school deserves deep study, from inside Houston's school district and without, to figure out how it succeeds.
January 24, 2008
The New York Times
Trying to simplify the often bewildering process of enrolling children in prekindergarten and kindergarten classes in New York City and to make it more fair, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein announced Wednesday that he would standardize applications and deadlines citywide.
January 21, 2008
Sioux City Journal, Sioux City, IA
Despite opponents' claims that it opens the door for mandatory preschool education in South Dakota, legislation that would set rules for voluntary preschool programs is scheduled for consideration Tuesday in the state Senate. The bill, SB26, would let the state Board of Education devise standards for instruction of 3- and 4-year-old children in school districts.
January 20, 2008
New York Post
Nine out of every 1,000 preschoolers in the Empire State have been asked to leave their schools - compared to the national rate of 6.7 per 1,000 pupils, according to recent studies. The rate is 19 times higher than that of K-12 students getting tossed from New York schools, a Yale University study found.
January 20, 2008
The Roanoke Times, Roanoke, VA
Right now, the Virginia Department of Education sets aside money to help make preschool available to almost 19,000 Virginia 4-year-olds eligible for free lunch. Almost one-third of those spots aren't filled, according to Mark Allan, director for elementary instruction at the department.
January 18, 2008
Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, SD
The South Dakota Department of Education would get the power to regulate and accredit pre-kindergarten schools under a bill a legislative committee approved Thursday. The Senate Education Committee approved Senate Bill 26 by a vote of 6 to 1, but only after long testimony by opponents.
January 17, 2008
The Wall Street Journal
Behavior problems among preschoolers are emerging as a national issue. In several studies released in the past month, researchers at Yale, Rutgers and Cornell universities, among others, are treating preschoolers' conduct as a challenge that calls for changes in school programs and classroom management.
January 16, 2008
The Hartford Courant
Jack P. Shonkoff, a Harvard pediatrician, was only sort of joking when he referred to 3-year-olds as middle-aged. By then, much of the basic circuitry of a child's brain, a series of connections not yet formed at birth, has already developed.

Resources

Mounting evidence of a slowing economy and rising deficits in some states haven't stopped governors from proposing ambitious programs, many of which are focused on bettering the lot of children. Stateline.org is maintaining a running synopsis of what governors are saying in their state of the state speeches, a calendar of when they occur in each state and, as they occur, links to their texts.
A diverse group of leaders — from House Education and Labor Committee Chair George Miller to Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers to Edison Schools Founder Chris Whittle — join Bill Gates in offering solutions to better educate our children. Read more at the Forbes.com web site.
Children Now is out with a report on the effects of interactive media such as the Internet, videogames and interactive television on young children's cognitive and socio-emotional development. In addition to a comprehensive literature review, the report provides interviews with academics, industry executives and advocates involved in the debate.