Volume 7, Issue 22

December 19, 2008

Hot Topics

When President-elect Barack Obama announced Arne Duncan, CEO Chicago Public Schools as his nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education, the reaction from the early education community was swift and positive. During his seven years at the helm of the Chicago schools, he has improved the school system, focused on teacher quality and worked with Barbara Bowman, the system's Chief Early Childhood Education Officer (and a NIEER Scientific Advisory Board member) to expand pre-k. In addition to his executive experience, Duncan's approach to education is informed by his time in the trenches, working in his mom's after school program on Chicago's South Side. He tells the story in this up close and personal 2007 interview for Edutopia.
The Fiscal Survey of States: December 2008 report says that so far in fiscal 2009, 22 states have cut their enacted budgets by $12.1 billion, with another five states forecasting cuts. In addition, 31 states have reported budget gaps totaling $29.7 billion since fiscal 2009 budgets were enacted.
The Albany Times Union reports that New York Governor David Paterson proposes cutting education by $698 million (3.3 percent), but that he proposes holding the funding level for the state's universal pre-K program to the 2008-2009 level through the 2010-2011 school year. Paterson is submitting his budget early in light of the large deficits the state faces.
Two years ago, New York state's highest court decided the state owes New York City billions in education funding as a result of a decades-long school funding lawsuit. In 2007, the money started flowing and Mayor Michael Bloomberg identified expanding preschool to all 4-year-olds as a priority for the new funding. According to The New York Times, that effort could suffer if Governor David Paterson succeeds in extending the payout period for the court-ordered funding from four years to eight as part of his proposed fiscal belt tightening.
A report submitted to Washington's governor and legislature by the state's Department of Early Learning says most elementary school principals, preschool teachers and parents favor requiring school readiness tests be administered to kids before they enter kindergarten. Twenty percent of respondents didn't favor the readiness test but most of those did so due to cost considerations.
Noted education writer David McKay Wilson documents the challenges universal preschool can pose to public elementary schools in a wide-ranging feature article in the November/December issue of the Harvard Education Letter. Wilson introduces readers to the story through the prism of Boston’s struggle to implement preschool for all and then provides a multi-source national perspective that touches on policy, people and infrastructure issues.

NIEER Activities

NIEER Co-Director of Research Debra J. Ackerman and Karen Carradine, Office of Early Childhood Education, Chicago Public Schools, will present on "Making Best Use of Full-Day Head Start Schedule: Using Research to Inform Teacher Training and Enhance Preschoolers' Learning" on Tuesday, January 27, 2009, at 2:00 at the Edward Zigler Western Research Institute in San Diego.

New on nieer.org





This issue of Preschool Matters features research from the U.K. on the long-term positive effects of high-quality preschool education and an article on the federal pre-K curriculum study.



Also in Preschool Matters:

• Director's Chair: Lessons from the States

• Guidance on Assessment and Accountability

• Newsmaker: Human Intelligence Researcher Richard J. Haier

• Childhood Obesity Prevention

Calendar

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 17, 2008
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN
With the ever-increasing emphasis on student achievement, accountability and rigorous standards that come with implementation of the Tennessee Diploma Project, early childhood education programs including Gov. Phil Bredesen's voluntary pre-K classes are even more critical for student and school success. Research shows that children who attend a high-quality preschool or pre-kindergarten experience greater social and academic success in kindergarten, throughout subsequent grade levels and in life outside the classroom.
December 16, 2008
The New York Times
Mr. Obama's platform, which Mr. Duncan helped write, emphasizes extending care to infants and toddlers as well, and it makes helping poor children a priority. It would also provide new federal financing for states rolling out programs to serve young children of all incomes.
December 16, 2008
Richmond Times-Dispatch
A year or two in a quality preschool program could ultimately mean the difference between success and failure for disadvantaged Virginia students. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's administration has identified high-quality preschool programs as a priority, but with budget cuts looming, it is unclear whether initiatives and funding will continue.
December 15, 2008
The Oklahoman
Educators say that students who attend prekindergarten classes are better prepared for kindergarten and less likely to repeat grades. Oklahoma is the only state to provide universal, voluntary prekindergarten for 10 years.
December 12, 2008
The Record, Hackensack, NJ
[Educators] cite numerous studies that show children in full-day programs have improved language and math proficiency as well as better social skills and more aptitude at following directions. However, opponents say pressing academics on preschoolers can be a case of too much, too soon for children still developing their attention span and mental and physical stamina.
December 11, 2008
Tacoma Weekly, Tacoma, WA
Tacoma's Family Literacy Program is based on the tradition of education building from one generation to the next, which is why staff and volunteers have spent the last two decades working to educate parents while their children are in school. What started out as a venue for educational pursuits for low-income parents in general now has a stronger focus on low-income English-language learners.
December 11, 2008
Washington Business Journal, Washington, DC
Investment in preschool programs is key to sustained growth for America's economy, according to the Committee for Economic Development, a D.C.-based think tank. In May, the District passed legislation sponsored by D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray that could dramatically expand quality pre-K offerings in the city.
December 11, 2008
The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS
At a conference Monday, the Mississippi Economic Council will announce plans to establish an early childhood education pilot program, initially at 50 licensed early child care and education centers across the state. The program, called Mississippi Building Blocks, initially will involve 1,500 children under the age of 4 and is designed to improve teaching in the centers, help ensure children are better prepared to enter kindergarten, and to help parents be better able to take an active role in their children's education.
December 10, 2008
Connecticut Post
Child advocates from more than 70 organizations descended on the Capitol complex Wednesday to tell lawmakers and the governor that kids should be considered an important part of the state's "infrastructure." They asked that in the current fiscal crisis, lawmakers planning the next two-year budget should continue funding levels - at the very least - and give them a voice in how to reallocate resources if needed.
December 8, 2008
Citizens Voice, Wilkes-Barre, PA
The report, "Program Reach and County Risk Assessment," by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, shows that more children are enrolled in state and federally funded education than ever before and are doing better in school, helped by an expansion in the types of programs available and increased funding. However, six out of 10 children across the state are not being reached by these programs, the report shows.

Resources

This report from Pre-K Now documents middle-income families' need for and struggle to afford quality early education programs when they do not qualify for state pre-K programs. Author Albert Wat includes recommendations for policymakers.
The non-profit parenting web site Great Schools now includes preschools in its online system for identifying and profiling schools in communities across the U.S. Inquiries begin by entering ZIP Codes or choosing cities from the drop-down menu.
This Progressive Policy Institute report to the Obama administration makes recommendations for future investments in early education. Among issues addressed by authors Loranne Ausley, Florida House of Representatives, and PPI Policy Analyst Katie McMinn are closing the achievement gap, teacher support, language issues and parental involvement.