Volume 8, Issue 25

October 30, 2009

Hot Topics

We previously reported that the new FY 2010 Michigan budget calls for cuts to the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) of about 7 percent — a figure that, while unpleasant, seemed to ensure the program would remain largely intact. That's not such a sure thing now that budget language has surfaced enabling school districts to opt out of providing state pre-K and apply their GSRP funding toward shortfalls in their K-12 budgets. The temptation to opt out of providing state pre-K could be high since per-pupil K-12 education received across-the-board cuts ranging from $292 to as much as $600 per pupil depending on the district. Michigan school funding does not rely on local real estate taxes the way other states do, so districts have less leeway to make up for shortfalls. Lori Higgins of the Detroit Free Press explains.
Total state investments in pre-K will be effectively flat in FY10 rising slightly more than 1 percent to $5.3 billion, says Pre-K Now's recently released Votes Count: Legislative Action on Pre-K Fiscal Year 2010 report. After accounting for inflation, that is a decline in real dollars devoted to pre-K. Of course, some states fared better than others. Among the highlights are these:
• Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia increased or are projected to increase pre-k investments by a total of more than $187 million.
• Thirteen legislatures increased investment in existing programs by nearly $130 million: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
• Ten states decreased funding: Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington.
• Among the best news is that two states with no state pre-K approved pilot initiatives: Alaska and Rhode Island.
Whether you're an Ohio parent with a child slated to attend the Early Childhood Education program before it was eliminated or a North Carolinian whose preschooler is denied access to the state's down-sized More at Four program, the consequences are deeply felt — and all to often, lasting. NIEER co-director Steve Barnett addressed implications of the cutbacks in a recent guest blog for Thrive By Five Washington.
Poor immigrant Latina moms live healthier-than-average lifestyles and have healthy babies but by the time their kids are 2 or 3 years old, lags appear in cognitive skills such as understanding words, speaking in more complex ways and performing simple tasks say Bruce Fuller (University of California) and other researchers who analyzed data from a nationwide tracking study of more than 8,000 infants born in 2001. They point to low maternal education, large family size and home learning practices as causes. The article appears in the Maternal and Child Health Journal.
President Obama's declaration of a state of emergency regarding H1N1 flu comes on the heels of news that the virus may be spreading faster in some areas than the flow of H1N1 vaccine. That puts more pressure parents and child care and preschool providers to prepare. This week's Preschool Matters ... Today! blog post addresses the issue. We welcome your thoughts. Click here for the blog: Preschool Matters ... Today!
With generous support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Pew Home Visiting Campaign – a project of the Pew Center on the States – is requesting research proposals to build the evidence needed to inform public policy decisions and advance effective practice in maternal, infant, and early childhood home visiting programs.

Pew is interested in large- ($125,000-$250,000 total award) intermediate- ($50,000-$125,000), and small- (less than $50,000) scale research projects that can be completed over an 18-24 month period. The full RFP and application materials are available on the Pew web site. Deadline: December 21.

Calendar

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."
November 18, 2009 - November 21, 2009
Washington, DC – The annual NAEYC conference offers participants a chance to explore early childhood strategies as well as networking opportunities.

Early Education News Roundup

October 29, 2009
Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, SD
[South Dakota state Sen. Tom] Dempster and a committee have been working to draft a bill that would not ask for an appropriation this year; it would simply set up a structure for preschool standards that would at least enable the state to start receiving federal money designated for such programs.
October 28, 2009
The Daily Republic, Mitchell, SD
According to a report released Monday by Nielsen, a TV ratings organization, the amount of television kids watch has reached an eightyear high, with children ages 2 to 5 watching more than 32 hours a week and those ages 6 to 11 watching more than 28 hours. The study was based on children's consumption of live TV, recorded TV programs and game-console use. Child experts say that's just too much television.
October 28, 2009
Detroit Free Press
The state's fiscal crisis is striking some of its most vulnerable residents -- 4-year-olds whose private, nonprofit preschool programs are losing state funding. A 50% cut in grants, part of the school aid budget that became official last week, means more than 20 programs won't get their funding renewed and 2,000 slots will be lost.
October 27, 2009
The Oregonian
Oregon's Legislature was among 13 state legislatures that increased spending on prekindergaten education, the Pew Center reports this month in an annual report on legislative action affecting prekindergarten. The Oregon Legislature in 2007 put an additional $37 million into Oregon Head Start, nearly doubling the number of 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families served by the state to 6,550.
October 25, 2009
The Star-Ledger
New Jersey was poised to expand this preschool program to even more children when the recession devastated state revenues. Whoever occupies the governor's mansion next year needs to appreciate the value of this resource and build on it by making New Jersey's highly effective early education programs available to children who need them in school districts across the state.
October 25, 2009
The Columbus Dispatch
Across the Columbus school district, tests given each fall show that more than three of every four kindergarten students aren't ready to learn. This is a particularly difficult challenge for two reasons: Preparing small children for school isn't usually the responsibility of a K-12 school district, but it still must spend time and money to help kids catch up.
October 23, 2009
The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio slashed preschool programs more than any other state in the nation, according to a new report. The state-by-state analysis found that Ohio cut the largest percentage of funding from preschool education and, as a result, will deny services to the largest number of children.
October 23, 2009
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
A three-year, statewide study of 10,002 preschoolers from low-income families has shown a good education before kindergarten vastly improves a child's ability to learn.
October 23, 2009
New York Daily News
With a deadline looming next week to either fill the seats or lose state funding, the Education Department is scrambling to reach parents by any means possible. Up for grabs are the 5,400 pre-K spots for 4-year-olds, including more than 900 for coveted full-day programs.
October 22, 2009
Education Week
Despite declining revenues and budget shortfalls, state funding for prekindergarten is expected to increase by about 1 percent, or $5.3 billion, nationally in fiscal 2010, says a report from a group that advocates high-quality early-education programs.
October 22, 2009
The Boston Globe
The report found that Massachusetts this fiscal year cut 22 percent of the budget for prekindergarten education, more than every state but Ohio, which cut 33 percent of its money for such programs. Massachusetts state officials called the report skewed.
October 21, 2009
The Wenatchee World, Wenatchee, Washington
The program is designed to fight childhood obesity by teaching kids exercise and nutrition, the younger the better. The program's design is based on brain research, which shows movement fosters proper brain development in young children.
October 20, 2009
The Providence Journal, Providence, RI
Rhode Island was one of 12 states that had no investment in early childhood education until the opening this fall of seven state-sponsored pre-kindergarten classrooms in four cities — Providence, Warwick, Central Falls and Woonsocket.

Resources

This report caps Cambridge Primary Review's three-year inquiry into the condition of and future of English primary education. The report finds primary schools doing a good job in general. Among its recommendations are strengthening provision of early education and giving priority to narrowing the gap between vulnerable children and the rest of the population.
This report from the Society for Research in Child Development presents the major concerns and current developments in the field of home visitation. It reviews U.S. studies of large, established home visitation program models which have been broadly evaluated, finding that although challenges exist, home visitation will play an important role in addressing outcomes for young children and their families.
This report from the National Association for the Education of Young Children looks at public policy developments in the states with regard to FY 2010 budgets in the areas including child care subsidies and regulations, quality rating and improvement systems, professional development, pre-K, infant/toddler programs, child assessment, and quality enhancements.
This report from Pre-K Now, a campaign of the Pew Center on the States, examines the use of federal Title I funds to support preschool education and provides examples of school districts that do so successfully.