Volume 8, Issue 16

July 2, 2009

Hot Topics

Opportunities for children in pre-K to learn mathematics are currently inadequate, a situation that needs to be addressed through a national math initiative, says a report released today by the National Research Council (NRC). Intended to inform the efforts of Head Start, state pre-K, curriculum developers and teachers, the report says the amount of time devoted to math needs to be increased in all public and private pre-K settings. Among its recommendations are that instruction concentrate on two areas — the concept of "number," including activities such as counting and determining relative quantities, and geometry, including activities that promote spatial thinking and measurement.

Many of the issues brought up in the report are addressed in NIEER's new brief, Math and Science in Preschool: Policy and Practice.
When Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed House Bill 130 late last month, it came as a surprise to many in politics and early education. The bill, which included $268 million to raise pre-K standards and provide full-day instruction, was sponsored by fellow Republican Representative Diane Patrick. The bill enjoyed what one advocate termed the broadest bipartisan support of any bill in the last session of the legislature, and its framers had consulted the governor's office. Perry defended the veto, saying any new funding for pre-K might better go toward expanding access to half-day programs for disadvantaged children. He left $25 million in the budget for that purpose.
Trouble is brewing for Illinois' acclaimed Preschool for All Program. This week, Governor Pat Quinn said he'll veto the latest budget proposed by the state's General Assembly because it cuts human services such as early childhood programs. According to the Ounce of Prevention Fund, the Assembly budget would cut as many as 27,000 children from Preschool for All. Quinn wants to generate $4 billion through an income tax increase — something the legislature is resisting. House Speaker Mike Madigan says he will call lawmakers back in mid-July to override the Governor's veto. Illinois isn't the only state facing big cuts. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is recommending elimination of the state's Early Learning Initiative launched in 2005 to provide full-day, year-round pre-K to children of working families.
Well-known early childhood expert Joan Lombardi has been appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development in the Administration for Children and Families. Lombardi, who is the founding chair of the Birth to Five Policy Alliance, also served in the Administration for Children and Families in the 1990s.

Calendar

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."
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.
July 28, 2009 - July 29, 2009
Washington, DC – The theme for the Child Care Bureau's (CCB) 2009 State and Territory Child Care Administrators Meeting is "New Opportunities and Possibilities for Child Care Leadership."

Early Education News Roundup

July 2, 2009
The Flint Journal, Flint, MI
The Lake Research Partners' poll showed that 74 percent of Michiganders are in favor of investing in early childhood development even if it raises their taxes. According to the Lake Research Partners poll, half of Michiganders believe the state already spends too little on early childhood development and education; six percent said the state spends too much.
July 2, 2009
ScienceDaily
To ensure that all children enter elementary school with the foundation they need for success, a major national initiative is needed to improve early childhood mathematics education, says a new report from the National Research Council. Opportunities for preschoolers to learn mathematics are currently inadequate, particularly for those in low-income groups, says the report, which is intended to inform the efforts of Head Start, state-funded preschool programs, curriculum developers, and teachers.
July 1, 2009
The Bee, Portland, OR
The Yu Miao Chinese Immersion Preschool, at the former Our Lady of Sorrows School — just two blocks from Woodstock Elementary — offers an array of activities that help children learn Mandarin and gain skills in preparation for kindergarten. The preschool believes that just as young sprouts grow into great plants when given good nutrition and a good environment, so young children grow into great people when given good education within a caring context.
July 1, 2009
Medill Reports, Washington, DC
Two programs, two departments, one goal: Give low-income children a head-start on their education by engaging the family in a subsidized preschool program. As the Even Start early childhood program lies on the chopping block, its close cousin, Head Start, is receiving billions in new stimulus funds.
June 30, 2009
Wall Street Journal Market Watch
The latest budget proposed by the Illinois General Assembly cuts as many as 27,000 children -- most of them from low-income families -- from Preschool for All programs. High-quality preschools, like the programs funded through Preschool for All, provide valuable learning opportunities that far too many low-income children don't otherwise get.
June 30, 2009
The Aurora Sentinel, Aurora, CO
Next, the State Board of Education and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education plan to implement the definition as mandated by a bill passed in 2008. The bill, titled "Preschool to Postsecondary Alignment," directed state agencies to create a plan to expose students to options for life after high school graduation.
June 29, 2009
Star Tribune, Minneapolis, MN
What may be Minnesota's most important educational report card was issued earlier this month, and the marks weren't good. The fall 2008 results of a yearly school readiness assessment of new kindergartners were down from 2007 on all five aspects of development measured.
June 29, 2009
PhysOrg.com
When students are underachieving, school policymakers often examine class size, curriculum and funding, but University of Missouri researchers suggest establishing relationships may be a powerful and less expensive way to improve students' success. In a review of the research they show that students with positive attachments to their teachers and schools have higher grades and higher standardized test scores.
June 28, 2009
The Kitsap Sun, Bremerton, WA
Research shows that high-quality early learning is an effective strategy to increase graduation rates. Long-term studies of high-quality preschools have found that at-risk kids who do not attend these programs tend to drop out of high school and abuse illegal drugs. They are 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18 and five times more likely to be repeat offenders by age 27.
June 25, 2009
The Mercury News, San Jose, CA
The good news is that we know how to put our kids — and with them, our families, communities and economy — on the path to success. A new report by the RAND Corp. underscores what I have seen in almost four decades of working in education: We must start early.
June 24, 2009
The Tennessean
The plan calls for no more than 25 students per teacher in grades 10-12, 20 students per teacher in grades 4-9 and 15 students per teacher in prekindergarten through third.
June 24, 2009
Oakdale-Lake Elmo Review, North St. Paul, MN
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) recently released results of its 2008 school readiness study, which has received some criticism by the Legislature for its data collection process and results analysis. This year's results show, based on information collected in 2008, that between 87 and 96 percent of 5-year-old children in the state were "in process" or "proficient" in physical development, the arts, personal and social development, language and literacy, and mathematical thinking, according to a press release from the MDE.
June 24, 2009
The Repository & CantonRep.com, Canton, OH
The vote on the budget is Tuesday. If passed in its current form, [Early Learning Initiative] programs around Ohio would be phased out by Aug. 21.

Resources

This report out from The Brookings Institution looks at the potential long-term effects of two model preschool programs on federal, state and local government budgets. They find that both programs would pay back in reduced costs and increased revenues in excess of three-fourths of their costs within a 75 year budget window.
This brief from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center offers a new framework for using games to help children learn healthy behaviors, traditional skills like reading and math, and 21st-century strengths such as critical thinking, global learning, and programming design. It discusses how increased national investment in research-based digital games might play a cost-effective and transformative role and provides comprehensive actions steps for media industry, government, philanthropy, and academia to harness the appeal of digital games to improve children's health and learning.
This article from Preschool Matters reports the results of a British study confirming that all children benefit from quality preschool participation. Edward Melhuish and colleagues found that 10-year-olds who had attended high-quality preschool scored 27 percent higher in math skills and performed better in other subjects compared to their peers who attended low-quality preschools.
This article from Preschool Matters looks at the latest data from The State of Preschool 2008 yearbook and the struggle in the states to expand public pre-K in the face of mounting budget challenges.
This entire issue is devoted to various ramifications of children's and parents' exposure to violence. Among the subjects discussed in eight articles are ethnic violence, intimate partner violence, racial discrimination in relation to violence and the effects of mass violence.