Volume 8, Issue 18

July 31, 2009

Hot Topics

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has signed a new state budget that eliminates the Early Learning Initiative which provided full-day year-around services to 12,000 children with family incomes under 185 percent of the federal poverty level. The focus of the program was to address school readiness. The Mansfield News Journal reports that the children served by ELI will be diverted to subsidized child care.
Two states with no history of state-funded pre-K will begin providing it, though this won't affect many kids right away. The Fairbanks News-Miner reports that Alaska will spend $2 million in grants to school districts to provide pre-K services in urban and rural areas of the state. Rhode Island plans to use a $700,000 budget appropriation to open four to six pilot pre-K programs in September to serve 4-year-olds.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced he is appointing Jacqueline Jones of the New Jersey state Department of Education to serve as his senior advisor for early learning. Jones, who most recently served as assistant commissioner for New Jersey’s Division of Early Childhood Education, has been responsible for the state's pre-K through three initiatives including the Abbott Preschool Program, one of the premiere programs in the nation. Prior to state government, she worked at the Educational Testing Service (ETS) as a senior research scientist and director of early childhood research and development. Jones also has been a visiting associate professor at Harvard University and a visiting scholar for the National Assessment of Educational Progress at ETS.
A report from the U.S. Department of Education says the gap between black and white students remains wide but that reading and math scores are improving some for black students in public schools across the country. The states have, on average, narrowed the gap very little. Reading scores have been particularly difficult to budge. Only three states — New Jersey, Delaware and Florida — narrowed the gap in fourth grade.
An article in the August issue of American Journal of Public Health reports that the High/Scope Perry Preschool Program improved adult health outcomes and health behavioral risk factors. Peter Muennig, Columbia University, Lawrence J. Schweinhart, High/Scope and colleagues found that the program led to improvements in educational attainment, income, family environment, and health insurance access, which in turn lead to improvements in an array of behavioral risk factors. Participants in the program did not exhibit any overall improvement in physical health outcomes by age 40. Differences could, however, show up as the members in sample continue to age.

Calendar

September 16, 2009 - September 18, 2009
Scottsdale, AZ – The annual NACCRRA conference provides participants with the opportunity to expand their skills while networking with colleagues from around the country.
October 1, 2009


Piscataway, NJ – Join educators, supervisors, and administrators at the first annual conference for prekindergarten and kindergarten from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, New Jersey Department of Education, and the Center for Effective School Practices.

Early Education News Roundup

July 31, 2009
The Tennessean
This is a big part of the motivation behind the state's ramped-up pre-kindergarten program, initiatives to raise high school graduation rates, and a greater emphasis on math and science instruction. Pre-K now won't yield immediate job-market results, but it is clear, through comparison with other states, that it is a critical building block for a sophisticated adult work force.
July 28, 2009
Wisconsin State Journal
The interactive Born Learning Trail's 10 signs wind through the park and list about three ideas, each designed for parents to engage their pre-kindergarten children in a variety of activities to develop such skills as language and reading, problem solving, imagination and motor skills.
July 27, 2009
The Providence Journal, Providence, RI
For the first time, the state Department of Education is venturing into early childhood education by launching a small, high-quality pre-kindergarten program designed to level the playing field for low-income children who now start school at a significant disadvantage compared with middle- and upper-income students.
July 27, 2009
The Detroit News
In the Senate's plan, the Great Start program, which provides preschool for 30,5004-year-olds, faces $103 million in reductions. Child care for low-income working families would see $135 million less.
July 27, 2009
The Philadelphia Inquirer
[Education Secretary Gerald] Zahorchak said the gains were made with the help of state aid for early childhood education, tutoring and other programs that are threatened by the budget ax.
July 25, 2009
The Arizona Republic
The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Friday that Gov. Jan Brewer and state officials violated the state Constitution earlier this year when they took money from an early-childhood-education fund to help balance the state budget. That fund, known as First Things First, was created by state voters in 2006 with their passage of a ballot proposal that increased tobacco taxes to fund a variety of education and health programs for children.
July 23, 2009
San Antonio Express-News
But even as preschool becomes the norm for an increasing number of children, access to free, public preschool in Texas remains reserved primarily for children from poor families. Now, in the midst of the recession, parents who pay for preschool are being forced to rethink that decision, which in Texas can mean tuition rivaling that at a public university.
July 23, 2009
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Fairbanks, AK
State government will spend $2 million to bolster preschool programs in communities big and small, including Minto, Huslia and Kaltag. More than 400 preschool-age children are expected to benefit from the grant-funded programs.
July 23, 2009
Bartlesville Live, Bartlesville, OK
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found one of seven low-income preschool children is obese. However, obesity rates have not changed significantly in the past six years.
July 22, 2009
Chicago Tribune
The state's vaunted early-childhood program took the biggest hit, losing a third of its $380 million budget.
July 22, 2009
Cherry Creek News, Denver, CO
In a study to explore the link between early education programs and adult health, and how early educational interventions affect health outcomes, researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health found that early education reduces health behavioral risk factors by enhancing educational attainment, health insurance coverage, income, and family environments. Considered a critical window for children's intellectual and socioemotional development, these prekindergarten years are thought to be especially important for children whose parents have a limited amount of education.
July 20, 2009
The Virginian-Pilot, Hampton Roads, VA
Under Virginia's new voluntary system, state-trained consultants evaluate child care facilities on a five-star scale. Mentors then are assigned to help the facilities work on improvements, and the centers are eligible for a new rating two years later.
July 18, 2009
The Record, Hackensack, NJ
The new study adds to the mounting evidence that children who've had preschool do better in kindergarten and first grade than those who haven't. They do better in language, literacy and math.

Resources

This paper by Arthur J. Reynolds and colleagues at the University of Minnesota assessed the effects of school mobility on achievement and dropout in 16 studies from 1990-2008. Among the findings are that children who moved three or more times had rates of school drop-out that were nearly one-third of a standard deviation higher than those who did not. Frequent mobility was associated with significantly lower reading and math achievement.
This new guide published by the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media is intended for journalists who cover early education issues but is also useful for all newcomers to the field of early education. It addresses issues such as evaluating research and what to look for in assessing whether preschools are doing a good job and it provides a list of experts and research studies to guide reporting.
This article from the Harvard Education Letter discusses research-based strategies for building vocabulary from pre-K to Grade 3. Written by Laura Pappano, writer in residence at Wellesley College, it discusses which words to teach, the framework for teaching them, how to help children grasp the meanings of words and rates of acquisition of words.