Volume 8, Issue 22

September 25, 2009

Hot Topics

The House of Representatives passed an initiative that would direct $8 billion over eight years to states that demonstrate they have plans to enhance early learning programs, improve workforce quality, and develop coordinated early learning systems for children ages 0 to 5. Introduced by House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman George Miller, the Early Learning Challenge Fund awards the money to states that apply for "Quality Pathways Grants." Press reports indicate the Senate is expected to pass similar legislation. Eric Karolak, executive director of the Early Care and Education Consortium, details the program in the article "Challenging States to Improve Quality: A New Federal Proposal."
The third report in NIEER's multi-year study of New Mexico PreK finds that kids who attended the program scored higher in early math, language and literacy than children who did not attend. The program is offered by both the New Mexico Public Education Department and the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department. NIEER conducted separate analyses of the two providers and found both produce similar results.
It was 80 days late, but when the Pennsylvania Legislature and Governor Ed Rendell recently agreed on a budget deal, there was $300 million in additional funding for education and an overall reduction in state spending of $400 million. A breakdown of figures is not yet available but one source says state pre-K is expected to be funded at levels similar to FY 2009. If so, kids waiting for the many state programs that canceled class to open their doors will finally get their wish. Pennsylvania will legalize table games at casinos and increase sales taxes on cigarettes and tickets to performing venues to help fill its budget gap.
The National Poll on Children's Health released this week by the University of Michigan shows how much remains to be done in educating parents about the threat H1N1 flu poses for children. Only 40 percent of parents plan to have their children receive the vaccine. That's far lower than the percentage of parents who plan to have their kids receive seasonal flu vaccine. Only about one-third of parents believe H1N1 flu will be worse for their children than seasonal flu. The Centers for Disease Control guidance for providers, parents and policymakers is available through NIEER's web site.
It isn't every day a congressman proposes an idea for funding early childhood education that few have entertained and yet intrigues many. That's what Colorado Congressman Jared Polis did at the Telluride Economic Summit when he proposed an investment product whereby investors would adopt a cohort of at-risk infants, underwrite the cost of their early childhood education, and recoup that investment plus variable interest over a 20-year period. Polis says such a product could potentially meet the entire early childhood investment needs of the nation through capital markets.

The summit keynote speaker was none other than BusinessWeek chief economist Michael Mandel who said if we don't "fix early childhood education ... we will end up with a failed economic system." Mandel mentions Polis's idea in his Economics Unbound blog.

Calendar

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.
October 16, 2009 - October 18, 2009
Garden Grove, CA – The theme for the American Montessori Society 2009 Fall Conference is "Montessori Education: Inquiry, Involvement, Insight."
October 24, 2009 - October 27, 2009
Atlanta, GA – Join early childhood educators, administrators and other professionals in education, policymakers, researchers, and child development experts for the National Black Child Development Institute's 39th annual conference.
October 30, 2009

Princeton, NJ – Join superintendents, child care directors, early childhood supervisors, and other educators involved in the preschool curriculum decision making process for this free conference co-sponsored by the Education Research Section of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, the National Institute for Early Education Research, and the Division of Early Childhood Education at the New Jersey Department of Education.
November 12, 2009 - November 13, 2009
Quebec City – This conference from the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development is designed for researchers, policymakers, and early childhood education professionals.
November 13, 2009

New York, NY – The theme for this one-day conference is "Building Empathy & Resilience: The Role of the Early Childhood Educator."

Early Education News Roundup

September 25, 2009
Des Moines Register
Early childhood is the optimal time for learning a second language, according to The National Network for Early Language Learning (NNELL). Children who speak other languages have a keener awareness and perception of language in general, enhanced communication skills, a better understanding of their native language, a larger vocabulary and better listening and problem-solving skills.
September 23, 2009
The Detroit News
The Senate passed a cut of $104 million to these programs that ensure students get a great start to their school careers. If enacted in the coming weeks, this cut would all but eliminate preschool and early intervention programs. We'd save some money in the short run -- but what do we lose over the long haul by not making that investment?
September 22, 2009
The Standard, St. Catharines, Canada
The purpose is to give children from infancy to six years old a head start in learning through play in a "real, feel good type of place," said Wendy Faragalli, manager/co-ordinator of the centres. Not only do children learn colours, shapes, numbers and have access to activities they wouldn't at home, they get used to school long before their first official day, thanks to some of the more structured activities, such as a reading circle.
September 20, 2009
The Dallas Morning News
The building is Frisco ISD's first location created specifically for eligible preschoolers and fills an expanding need for low-income and special education services. But it also represents a growing investment in early childhood education.
September 20, 2009
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Previous generations of kindergarteners came to school to learn their ABCs and the numbers one through 10. But according to standards set in 2006 by the state Department of Education, today's kindergarteners should learn to read and write complete sentences and count to 100 by ones and tens.
September 19, 2009
The New York Times
Tucked away in an $87 billion higher education bill that passed the House last week was a broad new federal initiative aimed not at benefiting college students, but at raising quality in the early learning and care programs that serve children from birth through age 5.
September 19, 2009
Missoulian, Missoula, MT
Child care is an enormous industry in Montana, employing more than 6,600 people - significantly more than trucking, real estate, logging or coal mining. Yet according to child care experts, providers and employees, Montana's child care system has serious flaws.
September 19, 2009
Otago Daily Times, Dunedin, New Zealand
Noisy play and noisy toys may be damaging the hearing of one in five preschool children and one in three early childhood education teachers, a new National Foundation for the Deaf survey has revealed. Foundation spokesman Nigel Murphy said noise levels in early childhood centres were not being monitored and in some cases, it appeared noise was exceeding healthy levels.
September 18, 2009
Education Week
Amid a recession that's squeezing state budgets and pushing more families into poverty, teams of officials from 39 states gathered near Washington this week to explore ways to better meet the educational and health needs of young children.
September 17, 2009
Athens Banner-Herald, Athens, GA
The report is sharply critical of the recent trend toward didactic instruction - teacher-initiated drills - for 5-year-olds. Research is cited that demonstrates that while this approach can produce short-term results in narrowly defined areas, "classrooms rich with child-initiated activity, including play, were considerably more effective" in providing the foundation for long-term academic success.
September 16, 2009
The Boston Globe
As important as the quality of teaching and leadership in schools is in developing capable readers, there are things that can be done to lay the foundations of literacy well before children enter elementary school. The first is to promote language development at home, beginning in infancy.
September 16, 2009
The Jackson Citizen Patriot, Jackson, MI
At the start of the school year, the Community Action Agency's Head Start program had a waiting list of 300 children -- about three times more than expected. As more low-income families experience job loss and increased living costs, more parents are seeking free assistance for early education and child care.
September 16, 2009
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN
More and more, community leaders and early childhood supporters are partnering to better prepare young children to be well-adjusted and work force-ready adults. Whether or not they realize it, business leaders have a significant stake in the outcomes of early childhood education and care programs, and research has shown that investment in early childhood development continues well into adulthood -- fostering a robust and sustainable labor force.
September 16, 2009
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Scientists have long known that poverty can inhibit a child's intellectual development. High-quality day care for the youngest poor kids may be enough to offset negative home environments and provide them the foundation for good school skills, at least up to the fifth grade, according to a new study.

Resources

This report from the Goffin Strategy Group looks at how the early childhood education field addresses its needs for leadership development.
This web site from The Center for the Study of Social Policy was developed to provide appropriate resources assisting policymakers in making decisions that affect children and families.