Volume 8, Issue 12

May 21, 2009

Hot Topics

Proposition 1D, the California ballot measure that would have temporarily redirected up to 50 percent of the tobacco tax revenue dedicated to early childhood programs to plug holes in the general budget, went down in defeat this week. Early childhood became a target as the state's economic circumstances grew dire and political leaders recognized that California's First 5 Commission, which receives the tobacco tax revenue, currently have about $2.5 billion in unspent funds. California faces a deficit in the neighborhood of $20 billion.
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's most recent budget proposal eliminates $25 million that was dedicated to expanding state pre-K. Until now, Corzine had spared the pre-K expansion initiative from the budget knife, but he said the widening deficit the state faces necessitated postponement of the expansion and elimination of property tax rebates for most homeowners.
Chris Gregoire, the pro-pre-K governor of Washington state, surprised many when she vetoed the portion of the state's new education reform bill that focuses on preschool education. Gregoire, who had informed preschool advocates in advance, said she vetoed the pre-K part because it targets state pre-K to at-risk children only and doesn't recognize that all children in Washington deserve state-funded preschool education. She said provision of state pre-K requires further study.
University of Virginia researchers have found that children’s abilities to speak and understand words developed faster when they were with classmates with better language skills. Andrew J. Mashburn and colleagues studied preschoolers in more than 450 pre-K classrooms in 11 states, testing their skills in receptive language and expressive language at the start and end of pre-K. The authors say that while the positive effects from classmates were small, they have implications in such areas as the desired composition of children in pre-K classrooms and how much emphasis language curricula place on teacher-managed instruction. The article appears in Child Development, Volume 80, Issue 3.
President Obama has nominated Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana to serve as Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education. The nominee is currently the superintendent of the Pomona Unified School District in California. Over her career she has served in various roles, including as a bilingual teacher, elementary school principal, and executive at the Stupski Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to education reform and innovation. Melendez de Santa Ana will oversee a number of programs that intersect with early education.

New on nieer.org

Senator Ted Kennedy is our Newsmaker in the issue of Preschool Matters just off the press. He talks about investing in a more coherent system of early education, the federal role in it, and bi-partisanship. Other articles in the new issue include:
• Can State Pre-K Be Saved?
• Illinois: Building a Better ECE System
• What Leads to Literacy?
• Discoveries: Predictors of Peer Victimization in Preschool

Calendar

June 14, 2009 - June 17, 2009
Charlotte, NC – The theme for the 18th National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development is "Play: Where Learning Begins."
June 22, 2009 - June 25, 2009
Washington, DC - This conference will highlight the crucial role early childhood professionals play in supporting positive outcomes for young children through infant/toddler programs.
June 25, 2009 - June 27, 2009
Baltimore, MD – The theme for the 19th annual National Association for Family Child Care conference is "Defining New Horizons: Charting a Course to Quality Learning."
June 26, 2009 - June 27, 2009
Albuquerque, NM – The theme of this conference sponsored by the National Child Care Association and New Mexico Child Care & Education Association is "In Our Hands."
July 12, 2009 - July 15, 2009
Cambridge, MA – The theme for this year's summer conference for elementary principals serving children from age 3 through third grade is "Young learners in America's schools: What's in your toolkit?"
July 20, 2009 - July 25, 2009
Cork, Ireland – The theme for the IFDCO’s Conference is "Celebrating Quality Family Childcare."

Early Education News Roundup

May 21, 2009
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
According to Mary Lynn Redmond, director of foreign language education at Wake Forest University, young children pick up a foreign language easier than older children and adults. "[Children in] elementary grades and preschool are very much in development stages. Their linguistic, cognition and emotional ability changes over time," she said, emphasizing the teaching approach is more "playful" and conversational.
May 21, 2009
The Washington Post
A Rand Corp. study in California found that children from all income strata attended poor-quality programs unless they could get into state-funded preschool. This says that government should help give families access to effective preschools.
May 21, 2009
WSIL-TV 3 ABC, Carterville, IL
Staff at Illinois pre-schools are singing a sad tune after seeing the governor's plan to cut funding. If the state takes those funds away 100,000 Illinois children would be affected.
May 20, 2009
The Star-Ledger
The state would also raise income taxes on people earning $400,000 to $500,000 and those earning over $1 million and cancel the expansion of a preschool program as part of Gov. Jon Corzine's plan to close a multibillion-dollar budget gap, the treasurer said.
May 20, 2009
Ars Technica
A new study, published in the journal Child Development by researchers from University of Virginia and Ohio State University demonstrates that classmates and peers play a role in the formation of both receptive (listening) and expressive (speaking) language skills. The researchers found that when a child's classmates had more advanced language skills, the child would be able to speak and understand words at a faster pace.
May 19, 2009
The Thibodaux Daily Comet, Lafourche Parish, LA
What we do know is that high-quality early childhood education has been proven to save up to $17 for every dollar it costs because it leads to better academic success, fewer special-education expenditures, greater chances for employment and productivity, and less risk of ending up in jail. We have known for decades that the key to school readiness and becoming a lifelong learner lies in the early experiences that help develop important qualities such as persistence, perseverance, curiosity, the capacity to tolerate frustration and the self-esteem to keep on trying even after making a mistake.
May 19, 2009
Dayton Daily News, Dayton, OH
Early childhood advocates say planned cuts to Ohio's pre-kindergarten programs will shortchange children at the most critical time in their development, but the Ohio Senate says it simply has no more money to offer.
May 19, 2009
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
A plan to overhaul Washington's K-12 education system was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Chris Gregoire, but she vetoed parts of the measure focusing on preschool and gifted education.
May 18, 2009
The Chronicle Herald, Halifax, Canada
Two Wilfrid Laurier University professors have found that when parents play with their young children, they hardly spend any time teaching them about amounts and numbers. Yet if parents knew how to talk about math concepts, they'd give their children an advantage that would last all through their school years.
May 16, 2009
The Commercial Dispatch, Columbus, MS
The early bird catches the worm, but Mississippi remains one of the few states in the nation without a state-funded pre-kindergarten program, which likely would go a long way toward moving the state up from the bottom rankings of educational progress.

Resources

Researchers studied a large sample of children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children birth cohort in Bristol, England. They found that peer victimization in childhood is associated with psychotic symptoms in early adolescence. The risk of psychotic symptoms was increased about two-fold among victims of bullying at ages 8 and/or 10 years. The article appears in the May 2009 Archives of General Psychiatry.
This study estimates the costs of Autism Spectral Disorders in the UK. Data on prevalence, level of intellectual disability, and place of residence were combined with costs of services and support together with the opportunity costs of lost productivity. The researchers found that autism costs more than $41 billion every year.