Volume 8, Issue 23

October 9, 2009

Hot Topics

The press in Michigan is reporting that state lawmakers have agreed on an education spending deal for the FY2010 budget that cuts per-student K-12 funding by $165 per student and reduces funding for pre-K programs similarly. Early analysis of the deal, which isn't expected to be formally approved until next Tuesday, suggests that pre-K is looking at about a 7 percent decrease from FY2009 for total funding of about $96 million in FY2010.

In his column this week, The Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel points out the enormous value of broadening health care coverage for young children. Wessel discusses new research linking test scores of black teenagers from the South in the 1980s with improved health care they received as children after Southern hospitals were integrated in the 1960s. The test score gap between black and white children narrowed markedly once all kids received the same level of access to health care.
The proposed criteria announced this week for awarding grants from the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) include innovations for improving early learning outcomes. Created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, i3 will enable the Department of Education to invest in the development and scaling up of innovative practices. Depending on the stage of development of an innovation, applicants can apply for three categories of grants. Sara Mead at Early Ed Watch explains more in this blog post.
Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, executive director of the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association, will become the director of the Office of Head Start next week. A former Head Start teacher, she will now oversee the program and its $7.2 billion budget. She is a graduate of California Polytechnic University and a published authority on education for migrant and seasonal children. Sanchez Fuentes takes over from Patricia Brown who has served as acting director since August 2007.

The first study to examine the effects of bisphenol A (BPA) on children's behavior found that girls whose mothers had the highest levels of the chemical during pregnancy were more aggressive at age 2 than other girls. BPA is commonly used to make plastic bottles durable and reusable. The findings closely match previous animal studies. Neurobiologist Louann Brizendine told USA Today she fears small amounts of BPA, which mimics estrogen, contribute to "masculinizing" the female brain at a critical point in its development.

Writing in Forbes, Susan K. Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States, urges the Senate to strengthen the Early Learning Challenge Fund. This involves, among other things, including dedicated funding for pre-K to help states serve all at-risk 4-year-olds, requiring that programs receiving federal funds meet high standards, and encouraging the use of Title 1 funds for pre-K. She also addresses comments made by Chester E. Finn, Jr. in a previous commentary about her organization's commitment to universal preschool, explaining that Pew is still dedicated to expanding access to pre-K education.

Calendar

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

October 7, 2009
The Dade County Sentinel, Trenton, GA
This year Georgia will see the enrollment of its one-millionth pre-k student and the entire state is celebrating. This year, the Georgia pre-k program will serve 82,000 children in approximately 4,100 classrooms in Georgia, according to information provided by Dade Elementary School counselor Tinena Bice.
October 7, 2009
Forbes Magazine
Despite the impressive funding gains, though, less than 30% of the nation's 3- and 4-year-olds are served by publicly funded early education. Federal action is needed urgently to reinforce states' progress and accelerate the growth of early learning programs.
October 6, 2009
The Denver Post
A tax-supported program that helps Denver families pay for preschool will cut its tuition reimbursements by 25 percent next fall — another victim of the economy.

Early-childhood education advocates also fear greater cuts to the statewide Colorado Preschool Program that pays for preschool for the state's neediest children.

October 6, 2009
WITI-TV, Fox 6, Brown Deer, WI
It's a law that some hope will put more teeth into the effort to get kids in school, and get them there early. Supporters says early education pays off by not only preparing kids [for] the first grade, but higher graduation rates later.
October 5, 2009
The Ocala Star-Banner, Ocala, FL
For these 5- and 6-year-olds, technology is a way of life, no different than using a crayon for their writing lessons. Technology has become increasingly prominent in classrooms and ever more important for the young generation.
October 4, 2009
Statesman Journal, Salem, OR
In August, nearly 200 kits in the "Reading for All: Born Learning Lending Library" program were provided to local child care providers. The purpose of the Lending Library kit is to encourage early literacy among the children in child care and to promote literacy within the child's home.
October 1, 2009
Battle Creek Inquirer, Battle Creek, MI
A joint House-Senate committee recommended last week to keep funding that is designated for Great Start Readiness and other specific programs, but if the proposal passes, school districts may eliminate or downsize these programs to make up for a $218 per pupil cut.
October 1, 2009
Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, Yankton, SD
Early child care and education is a growing concern for people across the nation. Two local groups recently undertook a survey that identified various issues and needs surrounding early child care in the Yankton area.
September 29, 2009
Southwest Times Record, Fort Smith, AR
Preschool programs could be made available to all of Arkansas' 3- and 4-year-olds without additional state funding, the state's new education commissioner said Monday.
September 27, 2009
Press of Atlantic City
Debra Lore, a nurse with the state Nurse-Family Partnership program, brought the book. Lore worked with [LaSarah] Todd through her pregnancy, helped her graduate from high school, and is now showing her how to give her daughter an early start on learning.

Resources

This study by the National Women's Law Center of child care policies in 50 states and the District of Columbia reveals that between February 2008 and February 2009 more states made cuts than made improvements in child care assistance. However, 30 states were aided by economic stimulus funds, enabling them to maintain services at higher levels than otherwise would have been the case.
This report offers a preview of promising findings from Foundations of Learning (FOL), a demonstration and random assignment evaluation in Newark and Chicago of an intervention that trains preschool teachers to better support children's behavioral and emotional development. The model tested in Foundations of Learning combined teacher training in effective classroom management with weekly classroom consultation. Consultants coached and mentored the teachers in the new strategies learned in the training workshops and provided individualized support to the highest risk children.

Researchers using data from the National Vital Statistics (NVS) for the years 1978–1988, found that a drinking age of 18 is associated with adverse outcomes among births to young mothers — including higher incidences of low birth weight and premature birth, but not congenital anomalies. The effects are largest among black women. They also report evidence that the minimal legal drinking age laws alter the composition of births that occur. The evidence suggests that lenient drinking laws generate poor birth outcomes.

Researchers studied the effects of maternal depression and substance abuse on children born to mothers in the initial cohort of the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a national household survey of high school students aged 14-22 in 1979. They followed 1,587 children aged 1 to 5 years old in 1987, observing them throughout childhood and into high school, finding no evidence that maternal symptoms of depression affect contemporaneous cognitive scores in children. However, maternal depression symptoms have a moderately large effect on child behavioral problems. These findings suggest that the social benefits of effective behavioral health interventions may be understated.

This paper provides new evidence on the long-term benefits of Head Start using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. David Deming compared siblings who differ in their participation in the program, controlling for a variety of pre-treatment covariates. He estimated that Head Start participants gain 0.23 standard deviations on a summary index of young adult outcomes. This closes one-third of the gap between children with median and bottom quartile family income, and is about 80 percent as large as model programs such as Perry Preschool. The long-term impact for disadvantaged children is large despite "fade-out" of test score gains.