Volume 7, Issue 21

December 5, 2008

Hot Topics

Thomas F. Cooley, Forbes magazine columnist and professor of economics at the New York University Stern School of Business, writes that spending in a federal stimulus package should be done with an eye toward producing benefits for the long term. For Cooley's money, that means investing in human capital and education. "Any discussion of investments in education…..needs to begin with early education," he writes. Read the full article.
The last seven years have seen a dramatic increase in the quality of the Illinois early childhood workforce, a new study shows. Not only has the percentage of lead teachers with bachelor's degrees risen but a coherent career development system is emerging in the state, says co-author Teri Talan at National-Louis University. The report, Who's Caring for the Kids?, highlights key achievements in the state including establishment of the Illinois Early Learning Council and the launch of Preschool for All.
Rutgers University researchers who analyzed 123 comparative studies found that overall there were significant positive effects in social and cognitive development and school progress for children who attended preschool prior to entering kindergarten. The largest gains were in cognitive development. Aspects of programs that correlated most positively with children's gains were teacher-directed instruction and small-group instruction. The study found that positive effects persisted long after preschool.
A report just out from The National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA) examines the growth in the number of young children in this country who speak English as a second language. Since these kids are learning a second language while acquiring their first, an achievement gap persists for years between them and their monolingual English-speaking peers, the report notes. In 2006, nearly one in three children attending Head Start was learning a second language. The report is titled Dual Language Learners in the Early Years: Getting Ready to Succeed in School.
The Denver Post reports that this year, Denver schools increased full-day preschool enrollment fourfold to 2,150 pupils from 540 last year. To accommodate the increase, schools will use bond money for mobile classrooms. At the state level, Governor Bill Ritter has dedicated $12 million to help get kids off the waiting list for state pre-K.
A systematic review of 30 years worth of research on media's effects on children found strong connections between media exposure and problems of childhood obesity, tobacco use and sexual behavior. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and Yale University say about 80 percent of the 173 research efforts they looked at showed a link between a negative health outcome and time spent with media or media content. Eighty-six percent of the studies that looked at obesity showed a negative outcome linked to media exposure.
Interventions administered to Seattle school children and their teachers as early as first grade have been shown to produce significantly better educational and economic attainment, mental health and sexual health in the kids by age 27, a new study shows. The Seattle Social Development Project sought to develop methods of management and instruction that could be used by public school teachers and adult caregivers to set children on a positive developmental course. While not a randomized study, the research suggests achieving that goal is possible. Read the article in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Calendar

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.
February 18, 2009 - February 21, 2009
Austin TX – The National Association for Bilingual Education's annual conference boasts the largest gathering of parents, teachers, administrators, and policymakers dedicated to serving English Language Learners in the United States.
February 26, 2009 - March 1, 2009
New Orleans, LA – The theme for this year's conference is "Education for Peace and Social Justice."
March 10, 2009 - March 14, 2009
Washington, DC – Join with more than 600 participants from across the nation at NACCRRA's Policy Symposium to explore the latest developments in child care resource and referral.

Early Education News Roundup

December 5, 2008
Anchorage Daily News
Gov. Sarah Palin is calling for more state spending on children's health insurance, preschool and other programs, even as Alaska oil prices and state revenues plunge.
December 4, 2008
The Republican, Springfield, MA
For many middle-class Americans, a preschool education is considered an essential part of their children's schooling; they wouldn't dream of sending their children off to kindergarten without a foundation for an education they hope will extend to college or beyond.
December 3, 2008
WBBM 780, Chicago, IL
A new study of the early childhood workforce in Illinois finds that education levels for lead preschool teachers has dramatically increased over the past seven years. State policymakers have also addressed the professional needs of the early childhood workforce through creation of the Professional Development Advisory Council (PDAC), establishment of Gateways to Opportunity, and a credentialing system for the early childhood workforce.
December 2, 2008
The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, ND
[Gov. John] Hoeven unveiled a $500 million plan during his campaign to cut property and income taxes as well as increase funding for education. The governor also has proposed $17 million for home-based elderly care and $15 million for childcare and pre-kindergarten funding.
December 2, 2008
Salem-News.com, Salem, OR
The Governor's budget makes education his top priority, dedicating 54 percent of the General Fund to the entire education system pre-K through the Opportunity Grant program for post-secondary education. The Governor's budget includes $116.1 million – a $6 million increase – to continue expanding access to Head Start for all eligible three and four year olds. The budget also includes $1 million in first-time funding to develop an Early Start program for infants up to three years old.
December 1, 2008
The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, LA
The goal of the Cecil J. Picard LA 4 Early Childhood Education program is to expand the program to all 4-year-olds in incremental stages by 2013. To ensure this happens, Senate Bill 286 states school districts who receive state funding for its pre-K classes "shall ... provide the early childhood education program component of LA 4 classes through collaborative agreements with nonschool system providers of early childhood education."
November 30, 2008
Florida Today
[Mona] Potter was observing the program as part of a new -- and what some education experts call unprecedented -- move by Brevard Public Schools to self-evaluate its pre-kindergarten programs rather than rely on the standards set by a national group. The district has developed what it hopes will be a winning checklist, one that it argues is more focused on what Florida children need to know when they walk into a kindergarten class or sit down to take their first standardized test.
November 29, 2008
Salina Journal, Salina, KS
The rating system might be a good idea, but it's an expensive one, and that's one thing holding it back. It's estimated the program will cost $500 a child -- a year. But for the providers who participate, the rewards can be great, including receiving grants as well as access to college scholarships for themselves and their staffs.
November 24, 2008
The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN
Child care centers often operate on wafer-thin margins, so it doesn't take many parents pulling their kids out of day care for some centers to see their meager profits evaporate. Pam Leffers, program director of the Early Childhood Alliance, worries that if accredited child care centers start to close during this economic downturn, some parents won't be able to find quality care for their children.
November 23, 2008
Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, OH
Inspired by research showing investments in early education provide more bang for the buck, the Akron Community Foundation will make funding programs for prekindergarten through third grade a priority.
November 21, 2008
Daily Sentinel, Le Mars, IA
Is an uneasy economy affecting local child care providers? Area licensed daycare center directors and state registered in-home caregivers have a mixed reaction to that phenomenon.
November 21, 2008
The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY
Kentucky offers free public preschool for 4-year-olds whose family income is below 150 percent of the federal poverty level -- for a family of four, that's about $32,000 a year. It also is available to 3-year-olds with disabilities. But [Gov. Steve] Beshear and advocates at yesterday's gathering said they would like to initially expand preschool to include all 3- and 4-year-olds with family incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level, or about $42,400 for a family of four.

Resources

This briefing on the National Academy of Education's white papers project was held at the National Academy of Sciences with the purpose of enabling researchers and policy leaders to engage with advisers to President-elect Obama to discuss issues in education policy. Briefing sheets and Powerpoint presentations are available as well as a video of the keynote speech by Obama adviser Linda Darling-Hammond.
A brief from The Brookings Institution and First Focus summarizes the effects of various early childhood programs, such as state pre-K, Early Head Start, Head Start, Model Early Childhood Programs, and the Nurse Family Partnership.
This Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics brief summarizes a detailed report scheduled for publication in 2009. The summary version highlights selected statistics indicating the well-being of children and families.
This policy framework, a multi-year, collaborative effort between the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and Zero to Three, identifies state policies supporting the healthy development of infants and toddlers in child care programs.
This fact sheet from the Center for Law and Social Policy provides a snapshot of the Child Care and Development Block Grant program participation for 2007 and notes the considerable variation in child care assistance among the states.