Volume 7, Issue 7

April 11, 2008

Hot Topics

The prospect of declining revenues has some governors who have championed early childhood education looking at possible cuts while others continue with increases. The Tennessean reports this week that Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen says sagging state collections mean "everything is on the table" for cutbacks, including education initiatives. He warned he may not be able to justify the $25 million expansion in state pre-K. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended cuts to child development funds last month. On the other hand, Alabama Governor Bob Riley proposes tripling funding for the state's pre-K programs, New York State's legislature passed a budget providing more money for preschool education and the District of Columbia's council gave preliminary approval to legislation expanding public pre-K. For more on the state revenue picture, go to Stateline.org.
A recently released Lexington Institute report that critiques federal pre-K proposals has been labeled misleading and inaccurate by the Think Tank Review Project, a collaborative effort of education policy units at Arizona State University and the University of Colorado. The Project asked NIEER Director Steve Barnett to review "How Sound an Investment? An Analysis of Federal Prekindergarten Proposals." The Lexington report concludes federally funded preschool for all would cost too much, provide little in way of benefit and drive child care providers out of business.



Barnett said the report misuses research to make the case that preschool education increases behavior problems, selectively cites research to support a distorted view of the need for teacher credentials and relies too heavily on one economist's views regarding program targeting strategies. "Rather than capitalizing on an opportunity to clarify an area of policy that is ripe for change, the report manages to muddy the waters ..." Barnett concluded.
Five-year-olds did better on motor tasks when they talked to themselves out loud (whether prompted by teachers or talking spontaneously) than when they were silent, says George Mason University psychology professor Adam Winsler. This finding came from his study that looked at teachers' involvement and roles in activity settings and free play time in pre-K classrooms. By equipping teachers with remote microphones and taping them, he discovered teachers are most often in the role of play enhancers, playmates and stage managers. Teachers exhibiting different patterns of involvement differed in how they talked to the kids ... with implications for the kids. Read the article in Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
For the first time, all pre-K programs in Connecticut receiving state funds will undergo an assessment using the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS). Project coordinator Kathy Wilby, Charter Oak State College, the school in charge of the project, says programs that don't achieve sufficient scores will be put on an improvement program. Since the money for the evaluation became available January 1, only one program fell into that category.
The shots kids get for mumps — at 12 to 15 months and again at 4 to 6 years of age — don't appear to have been enough to prevent college students from getting mumps in a 2006 outbreak, says a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to The New York Times, public health officials hadn't expected immunity to wane so soon. Dr. Jane Seward at CDC said if there's another outbreak CDC will evaluate the potential benefit of a third vaccination.

Calendar

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 5, 2008 - May 6, 2008
Uniondale, NY – The theme for this year's conference is "Bringing Literacy Home."
May 6, 2008 - May 9, 2008
Greensboro, NC – This conference will focus on issues related to the development of early childhood programs and systems.
August 6, 2008 - August 8, 2008
Quebec, Canada – This conference aims to enrich the possibilities of children's right to be educated in a culture of peace.

Early Education News Roundup

April 11, 2008
The Daily News, Longview, WA
Washington should benefit significantly from its strong commitment to early childhood education. Early learning programs are thought to give the biggest bang for the education dollar.
April 9, 2008
Asbury Park Press
As to the question of whether New Jersey can afford to expand public pre-K, the answer is clearly "yes." Pre-K pays off so well because we pay a high price for failure, particularly in a time when even children from middle-income families have much too high a chance of needing long-term special education or dropping out of school.
April 8, 2008
Daily Camera, Boulder, CO
State lawmakers want to put tens of thousands of 4- and 5-year-olds in preschool and kindergarten next year under the school finance act.
April 7, 2008
The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS
Southern states lead the nation in the overall quality of publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds, a recent study shows, but you wouldn't know it in Mississippi.
April 4, 2008
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Results from a recent survey sent home with elementary school students showed most parents would like to see an early childhood preschool program in the St. Charles School District. Nearly 84 percent of about 400 parents who responded said they would send their child to the preschool, and about 75 percent said they would be able to pay tuition if it were on a sliding scale based on income.
April 2, 2008
The Washington Times
D.C. Council members yesterday gave unanimous preliminary approval to legislation expanding the city's educational offerings to 3- and 4-year-olds, a move that coincides with a national trend to serve students before they reach kindergarten.
April 1, 2008
Chattanooga Times Free Press
Georgia and Tennessee lawmakers this week are working on budgets that could add 1,000 new pre-kindergarten seats in the Peach State and nearly 300 additional seats in Tennessee.

Resources

In this column, Emily Darnell-Nunez, statewide coordinator of New Mexico SPARK, an advisory group of early educators and kindergarten teachers, makes the case that leaving early childhood education out of the funding formula is like building a house without pouring a foundation. She calls for balancing the formula to eliminate some restrictions on funds so school districts can use them for children under age 5.
This on-line table from Pre-K Now summarizes key aspects of four major prekindergarten bills introduced in the 110th Congress. Characteristics for comparison include provider eligibility, use of funding, reporting, and teacher training goals.