Volume 7, Issue 6

March 28, 2008

Hot Topics

The State of Preschool 2007, NIEER's new yearbook released last week, shows that 2007 was a big year for state-funded preschool education. Not only did enrollment exceed one million children for the first time but the decline in per-child funding seen in recent years was halted, though funding per child remains below the average spent per child in 2001. Other key findings are:



• Thirty states expanded enrollment, for a national increase of 80,000.



• Enrollment of 3-year-olds rose more than 10 percent from 2006 to 2007, fueled by a big expansion in Illinois and incremental increases in all but five states with programs for 3s.



• State pre-K enrollment jumped 52 percent in Tennessee, 33 percent in Pennsylvania and 17 percent in Illinois, Florida and New York.



• More than 40 percent of state pre-K enrollments are in three states with large programs that spend less than the national average per child and achieve fewer than half of the benchmarks on NIEER's quality standards checklist — California, Florida and Texas.



You can access the State Preschool Yearbook, on the NIEER web site at http://nieer.org/yearbook/. To receive a complimentary copy of the 2007 Yearbook, contact yearbook@nieer.org.
Beyond the headline-generating findings like those above, it's important to keep in mind The State of Preschool 2007 serves as an important reference volume. In no other single volume can one find the answers to so many questions about preschool programs and policy on a state-by-state basis. Data in the yearbook's appendices cover a broad array of areas, including:



• administrative authority over programs



• ELL enrollment and support services



• age and risk factor information



• program supports



• early learning standards



• Head Start participation



• assessments



• evaluations



• data gathering and more.



Access the yearbook's appendices directly here.
More than half of Head Start program directors expect to lose teachers and assistants due to new credentialing requirements in the recent Head Start reauthorization. About half said they are less able to keep good teachers because of poor pay and teachers leaving for public school jobs. And, about half said their waiting lists of children have increased but the programs lack slots to serve them. These and other findings come from a survey of 477 Head Start programs in 49 states by the National Head Start Association (NHSA). Head Start received a budget cut in December even though the reauthorization included $460 million in new money.
A report just out from University of California, Berkeley Professor Marcy Whitebook and colleagues draws on New Jersey's experience with the Abbott Preschool program in developing high-quality pre-K in which children performed equally well whether the program was delivered in public or private settings. With funding from NIEER, Whitebook, NIEER Research Fellow and Rutgers Professor Sharon Ryan and others interviewed directors of Abbott programs to compile a profile of their insights. Their analysis led to eight goals that policymakers in states striving for effective mixed delivery should keep in mind. Partnering for Preschool contains narratives from directors with hands-on experience in building the Abbott program, many of which are compelling reading.

Calendar

April 1, 2008 - April 3, 2008
St. Louis, MO – Participants at this conference will be given opportunities to network with national and international early childhood professionals while sharing insights and expertise with their peers.
April 1, 2008 - April 5, 2008
Washington, DC – This conference attracts over 600 participants from across the nation, who attend to discover the latest developments in child care resource and referral.
April 10, 2008 - April 11, 2008
San Diego, CA – This institute offers teachers a way to provide academically integrated physical education activities to preschoolers.
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.
April 24, 2008 - April 26, 2008
Menomonie, WI – This conference gives participants a wide choice of individual sessions focusing on issues related to early education programs.
April 30, 2008 - May 2, 2008
Auckland, New Zealand – This conference will help improve the effectiveness of those who are responsible for training early childhood educators.
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

March 26, 2008
The Record, Bergen County, NJ
The Abbott system has directed state funding to 31 districts designated as impoverished. They include one in Bergen County, Garfield; and two in Passaic County, Paterson and the city of Passaic. The districts have benefited from a huge influx of aid to bolster their relatively low property tax revenues, two mandatory years of pre-kindergarten education, and the bulk of a multibillion-dollar school construction program.
March 25, 2008
Connecticut Post
Connecticut can be justifiably proud that its early childhood education programs rank among the tops in the nation, but the state still has much work to do to meet the needs of poor children in its urban centers such as Bridgeport.
March 24, 2008
The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, LA
There's widespread consensus about the benefits of early education programs. Both proponents and critics agree that kids who attend preschool do better than other children in the same age who do not, particularly early on.
March 19, 2008
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Illinois ranked first in the nation for providing access to 3-year-olds and 12th for providing access to 4-year-olds. The state also fared well on quality, meeting nine of 10 academic benchmarks in areas such as class size, and the number of qualified teachers and aides in classrooms.
March 18, 2008
The Tennessean
A cornerstone education proposal from Gov. Phil Bredesen appears to have enough support, including from the Republican chairwoman, to pass a key Senate committee when it reviews the state's proposed education budget on Wednesday. Bredesen's $25 million proposal would expand pre-kindergarten funding by about 250 classrooms statewide, with an emphasis on broadening the program to include middle-class children.
March 17, 2008
The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, PA
The value of early childhood edu cation is well recognized, yet we don't do enough of it in this country. Harrisburg School District, which has developed an innovative, research-based pre-kindergarten program for 500 children, serves only half of the 3- and 4-year-olds in the district.