Volume 8, Issue 2

January 29, 2009

Hot Topics

Early childhood programs, school districts, and colleges will receive a one-time injection of $125 billion in emergency aid if the spending portion of the stimulus package approved by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee becomes law. The Senate version mirrors much of the education spending outlined in the House stimulus bill. Both provide $1 billion in increased funding for Head Start and a $1.1 billion increase for Early Head Start. Both provide $2 billion more for Child Care and Development Block Grants. The Senate bill increases the funding for school renovation and construction from the $14 billion in the House bill to $16 billion.

Another $25 billion in state and local aid would be flexible, enabling state and local entities to determine spending priorities, which could include school support. The Senate version ties early childhood programs and early childhood education together more closely than the House bill and contains important provisions for quality. New America Foundation's Sara Mead explains the nuances in her blog.
A report out this week from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says that contrary to claims by some, the portion of the stimulus plan that would flow to the states will not plug the states' deficit shortfall. The discrepancy stems from the fact that much of the funding that would flow through the states would go to local community budgets or, in the case of infrastructure expenditures, be applied to capital budgets and not operating budgets. The report estimates that about 45 percent of the states' operating deficits (now pegged at $350 billion) would be alleviated by the stimulus.
In his state of the state speech, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland said the state would unite all early childhood development programs and resources into the department of education to create a comprehensive early childhood system that will focus on the whole child. He also said the state will provide universal all-day kindergarten. The moves are part of Strickland's broad-based plan for education that includes workforce reform and expansion of the school calendar.
The large scale study aimed at tracking the health and development of more than 100,000 children from before birth to age 21 has begun recruiting volunteers in Duplin County, North Carolina and Queens, New York. The study, which will focus on how genes and the environment interact to affect children's health, is expected to have 40 study centers recruiting volunteers from 105 locations. Authorized by Congress in the Children's Health Act of 2000, it is being conducted by a consortium that includes National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
The National Even Start Association has served notice on its web site that the group has made the difficult decision to dissolve and discontinue its web presence and mass e-mailing system. Funding for Even Start has declined in recent years. NESA's board of directors voted to turn over professional development training materials to Sue Henry and Sandra Howe.

Calendar

February 18, 2009 - February 21, 2009
Austin TX – The National Association for Bilingual Education's annual conference boasts the largest gathering of parents, teachers, administrators, and policymakers dedicated to serving English Language Learners in the United States.
February 26, 2009 - March 1, 2009
New Orleans, LA – The theme for this year's conference is "Education for Peace and Social Justice."
March 10, 2009 - March 14, 2009
Washington, DC – Join with more than 600 participants from across the nation at NACCRRA's Policy Symposium to explore the latest developments in child care resource and referral.

Early Education News Roundup

January 28, 2009
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Proponents of a rating system for child care centers in Missouri rallied on Tuesday in support of legislation aimed at helping parents better judge the strengths and weaknesses of early childhood programs. For the past two years, supporters of the concept have tried but failed to persuade the Legislature to approve a new five-star rating system for childhood programs in both centers and homes.
January 28, 2009
The New York Times
The economic stimulus plan that Congress has scheduled for a vote on Wednesday would shower the nation's school districts, child care centers and university campuses with $150 billion in new federal spending, a vast two-year investment that would more than double the Department of Education's current budget. The proposed emergency expenditures on nearly every realm of education, including school renovation, special education, Head Start and grants to needy college students, would amount to the largest increase in federal aid since Washington began to spend significantly on education after World War II.
January 27, 2009
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
The report, titled Right and Smart, argues the state devote more resources to helping children between the ages of birth and five. Early investment in these programs, focusing specifically on the birth-to-three age group, will eventually produce a healthier and more productive workforce, the report says.
January 26, 2009
The Florida Times-Union
With a second reduction in money for voluntary pre-kindergarten recently finalized and another rough economic year for the state ahead, early childhood education advocates are worried about whether more cuts are to come.
January 26, 2009
The Washington Post
Seventy percent of 4-year-olds and 40 percent of 3-year-olds are in preschool, but the numbers are expected to grow rapidly. How will parents figure out which schools are best for their kids?
January 25, 2009
La Crosse Tribune, La Crosse, WI
Wisconsin has 319 school districts that offered public preschool programs in 2008-09, with 33,976 children enrolled, a 22.4 percent increase over the previous school year, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
January 22, 2009
The Daily Post-Athenian, Athens, TN
Rep. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, and state Sen. Dewayne Bunch, R-Cleveland, said pre-kindergarten is among numerous state-funded programs that could go on the chopping block when legislators begin wrestling with a $900 million deficit. Rep. Bell said ... the pre-kindergarten program is strongly supported by Gov. Phil Bredesen and cuts would face opposition from his administration.
January 21, 2009
The Wall Street Journal
Advocates argue all children need access to preschool; opponents cite studies pointing only to benefits for disadvantaged kids. The debate leaves parents wondering how much -- if any -- preschool their children really need.
January 21, 2009
U.S. News & World Report
Autism tops Barack Obama's medical to-do list, according to the new president's website. Obama called for ... universal screening for all infants for autism disorders, as well as re-screening for all 2-year-olds.
January 20, 2009
The Press of Atlantic City
[New Jersey Education Commissioner Lucille] Davy also said that while Gov. Jon S. Corzine remains committed to expanding public preschool, funding it will be difficult without federal support. President-elect Barack Obama included federal funds for public preschool in his campaign platform, and state officials are hoping some money might be included in a federal stimulus package.
January 19, 2009
The News-Press, Fort Myers, FL
Now consider the long-term return on investment when we have nurtured and raised a generation of more educated, creative, resourceful and innovative workers. A wealth of studies have examined the benefit-cost ratios of early childhood development programs and found their net benefits both positive and large; on average, a $1 investment in quality early care and education provides between $4 and $8 in reduced costs associated with such social outcomes as lower rates of grade retention, special education placement, adolescent pregnancy, drug use, and criminal activity — at the high end this is a 17-percent return on investment.

Resources

This issue of the newsletter from the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition leads off with a report by NIEER Research Associate Dr. Delis Cuellar titled "Cultural Responsiveness: Working with Mexican Immigrant Families in Early Education." Cuellar addresses the cultural chasm that can exist between teachers and families from different cultures by illustrating the distinctly different ways two teachers in a Head Start classroom think about and react to parents. Other articles address accommodating English Language Learners (ELL) in assessments, teacher training as it relates to ELL achievement, and the Quality Counts 2009 report as it relates to ELL children.
This working paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child reviews evidence on the potentially serious consequences of significant mental health problems in young children. The paper also examines the importance of addressing emerging emotional and behavioral problems early.