Volume 8, Issue 14

June 4, 2009

Hot Topics

The data won't be available for another two or three years, but The Foundation for Child Development (FCD) has issued a special report that projects the extent of impacts of the current recession on family well-being. The report says the percentage of children in poverty is expected to peak at 21 percent in 2010. At some point next year, 27 percent of children will have at least one parent not working full-time year-round. Median annual family income will decline from $59,200 in 2007 to $55,700 in 2010. While income for female-headed households will drop, the steepest drop will be for male-headed households. The FCD predicts social and health consequences as well.
The last in the series of RAND reports from the California Preschool Study recommends the state take measures to increase the quality of programs and make sure they get delivered to the state's 4-year-olds from families with income up to 240 percent above poverty level and 3-year-olds from families below poverty level. Among the near-term steps the report recommends are developing a quality rating system, providing web-based reports accessible to parents, and modifying contract rules for government-subsidized programs that reduce the amount of available funds that go unused.
When Maryland's Montgomery County Public Schools offered the district's Title 1 schools the opportunity to expand Head Start half-day pre-K to full-day, the idea was to improve the prospects for non-English speaking children and those affected by poverty. It worked. A research report from the district suggests the kids in full-day programs made significantly larger gains in reading skills compared with children in the half-day programs.
Another example of leadership from Montgomery County Public Schools comes by way of a 7-minute boots-on-the-ground video from the New America Foundation. It follows education blogger Christina Satkowski on her visit to Broad Acres Elementary School where third grade classes have made a startling turn-around in reading and math. It's the result of a plan implemented by Superintendent Jerry Weast to expand high-quality pre-K and rewrite and align curricula through third grade in an effort to maintain the momentum of gains made in pre-K. He says these days, those gains at Broad Acres continue to build rather than fade.

New on nieer.org

NIEER Director Steve Barnett has written a rebuttal of assertions made in Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut, the book recently published by Stanford's Hoover Institution that challenges the wisdom of providing public preschool for all children. The book's author is Chester E. Finn Jr., President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
Some interesting ideas have been posted since NIEER launched the Idea Factory, the online forum for sharing ideas and resources on how best to leverage stimulus funding to further early care and education. Among those we've heard from are Jana Martella at NAECS/SDE, Sara Mead at New America Foundation, and Adele Robinson at NAEYC. The most recent post comes from Janis E. Katz who sees the stimulus as a unique opportunity for Indiana, a state with no state-funded pre-K, to bring about cross-agency collaboration and fundamentally change the way it delivers early care and education.

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 13, 2009 - July 14, 2009
New Brunswick, NJ – This professional development opportunity introduces participants to evidence-based practices for incorporating math and science into preschool and kindergarten classrooms.
July 15, 2009 - July 16, 2009
New Brunswick, NJ – This session provides participants with opportunities to explore research on literacy development in the preschool and kindergarten classroom.
July 20, 2009 - July 25, 2009
Cork, Ireland – The theme for the IFDCO’s Conference is "Celebrating Quality Family Childcare."
July 20, 2009 - July 21, 2009
New Brunswick, NJ – This professional development opportunity introduces participants to research and theories on supporting English Language Learners in prekindergarten and kindergarten classrooms.
July 22, 2009 - July 23, 2009
New Brunswick, NJ – This professional development opportunity focuses on leaders, such as principals, supervisors, coaches, and child care and Head Start center directors, and their role in ensuring quality instruction in preschool to third grade classes.

Early Education News Roundup

June 3, 2009
The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, PA
The future strength of America's military may rest with our pre-school children. And unless things change, that worries a group of senior retired military officers who foresee a generation that is incapable of defending the nation.
June 3, 2009
The Danville Register & Bee, Danville, VA
A national Head Start impact study by the Society for Research in Child Development for the Department of Health and Human Services found evidence of the program's benefits on low-income families. The study found nationally, Head Start reduced the achievement gap by 45 percent in pre-reading skills between Head Start children and the national average for all 3- and 4-year-olds.
June 3, 2009
San Antonio Express-News
The City of San Antonio recently awarded new contracts for its Head Start Program, and the Texas Legislature approved $25 million for a grant program to allow school districts to expand their half-day pre-k programs to full-day if they want. The bill, however, carries a stipulation that a school district would have to use at least 20 percent of the grant funds to contract with one or more community providers.
June 3, 2009
CBS News
The current recession could be over by the year's end, but its impact on children will continue through next year and may virtually erase decades of improvements in American children's well-being, according to a new report by the Foundation for Child Development. The recession's impacts -- especially on poor and very young children -- could be profound unless policies are changed to help strengthen families in times of hardship and to acknowledge the importance of early childhood education, child advocates said Wednesday.
June 2, 2009
The Denver Post
Until this year, Denver Public Schools would have placed Arianna with other preschool kids with disabilities in a self-contained classroom staffed by special-education teachers and therapists. This year the district tried out a pilot program to include 50 kids with disabilities in six of its preschools, and Arianna is in one of them.
June 2, 2009
U.S. News & World Report
Television reduces verbal interaction between parents and infants, which could delay children's language development, says a U.S. study that challenges claims that certain infant-targeted DVDs actually benefit youngsters.
June 2, 2009
WLS, Chicago, IL
Some believe access to high-quality early education may be the key to helping stop the violence. The problem is those children considered to have the greatest need for preschool are the least likely to be enrolled.
June 1, 2009
The Washington Post
A study tracking a group of children born in 2001 found that those living in poverty are less likely to have someone read to them, tell them stories or sing to them. At age 4, children in families at or above the poverty line were better able to recognize letters, numbers and shapes.
June 1, 2009
The Record, Hackensack, NJ
Governor Corzine's preschool expansion plan — a major part of the new school funding law that won constitutional approval by the state Supreme Court last week — is on hold, with no funds for new classes included in next year's recession-crunched budget.
May 29, 2009
The Des Moines Register
Another 53 Iowa schools will launch preschool programs in the upcoming school year despite a 23 percent reduction in state money that was promised two years ago, education officials announced Thursday.

Resources

This brief from the federal Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation and Child Trends explains findings from a meta-analysis of 20 early care and education projects and a secondary analysis of data from four large early care and education studies. It found that children in higher quality programs had modestly higher academic and language outcomes and better social skills.
This commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association supports expanding early intervention approaches such as the Nurse-Family Partnership to help ensure disadvantaged young children have safe, stable and nurturing home environments. Author James A. Mercy, of the Centers for Disease Controls, says that doing so not only leads to better development in childhood but also to better health in adulthood.
This study looked at Head Start classrooms assigned to the enriched intervention known as Head Start REDI — Research-based, Developmentally Informed. The intervention involved lessons, activities and teaching strategies designed to promote social-emotional competencies and develop emergent literacy skills. Findings showed significant gains for REDI classrooms in emergent literacy skills, emotional understanding, social problem solving, social behavior, and learning engagement.