Volume 8, Issue 7

March 25, 2009

Hot Topics

Writing in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Robert Tomsho examines the implications of pursuing the goal of making preschool education available to all children in light of President Obama's agenda favoring that goal and the economic downturn that's forcing difficult choices in the states. Tomsho quotes NIEER Co-Director Steve Barnett and draws on the experiences of teachers, children, and parents in New Jersey's Abbott preschool program for his story.
The Texas Legislature is considering a measure that would boost the funding for state pre-K from a half day to a full day for 4-year-olds and improve program quality. Introduced by House member Diane Patrick (HB 130) and Senator Judith Zaffirini (SB 21), it would increase the state's funding commitment by about $300 million to cover the additional half day and revise standards to, among other things, require a maximum class size of 22, a ratio of one teacher or teacher's aide to 11 pupils. For districts choosing this option there is a mandate to provide at least half of the services in contracted child care centers or Head Start agencies. All classrooms must meet the same standards, including teachers with a BA and nine college credits in ECE. NIEER Co-Director Ellen Frede testified before the House and Senate on the measure. The Austin American-Statesman reports the bill has bi-partisan support of more than half the members of the House.
The National Governor's Association Executive Director Raymond C. Sheppach writes on Stateline.org that next to health care, education is the best way to provide near-term stimulus to the economy from the $275 billion being sent to the states by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He says the money is already having a positive economic impact as more states are postponing cuts.
The 14-member English Language Learner Working Group, including NIEER Co-Directors Steve Barnett and Ellen Frede, has released a set of recommendations outlining ways that stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act can be used to address the needs of ELL children. The group targets specific opportunities for improving ELL outcomes through allocations to Title I, IDEA special education, technology, data systems, teacher grants, early childhood education, the National Science Foundation, and state stabilization grants.
Researchers from Children's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School have found that contrary to parents' perceptions that TV and DVD viewing benefits children's brain development, there is no evidence to support that belief. Pediatrician Michael Rich, who with colleagues studied 872 children, said time children age 3 and under spend watching educational TV and DVDs is "wasted time."
James Paul Gee, University of Arizona, and Michael Levine, who heads the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, say that current approaches to teaching literacy are too far removed from the digital media consumption that increasingly drive children's lives. They say many kids are more immersed in writing through online outlets than they are in school and make the case that digital media hold great promise to speak to our educational problems. Their article "TV Guidance" appears in the Spring 2009 issue of the journal Democracy.
NIEER will release its State of Preschool 2008 yearbook on April 8 in Washington, DC. The new volume is sixth in the series of yearbooks that track state-funded preschool across the country.

NIEER Activities

Tuesday, April 14 – 12:25-1:55 PM
Establishing the Psychometric Properties of a Standards-Derived Performance Based Assessment: Can It Be Used for Accountability as Well as Informing Instruction?
Shannon Ayers & Ellen Frede

Wednesday, April 15 – 8:15-9:45 AM
Trends in Quality Standards in State-Funded Prekindergarten Initiatives
Dale Epstein, Allison Friedman, Judi Boyd, & Jason Hustedt

Wednesday April 15 – 9:05-9:45 AM
The Slippery Union of the What Works Clearinghouse and Early Childhood Education
Alex Figueras-Daniels, NIEER; Timothy Nordin and Carley Fischer-Maltese, Rutgers University

Thursday, April 15 – 4:00 PM
Hispanics, Language and Immigration: Gaps in the Early Years
Milagros Nores


April 2, 2009 - April 4, 2009
Denver, CO - This conference features leading-edge presentations from researchers with multidisciplinary backgrounds.
April 9, 2009 - April 10, 2009
San Diego, CA – Join early childhood professionals from across the country at the two-day training institute that will include both physical activity and instructional-based lessons.
April 13, 2009 - April 17, 2009
San Diego, CA - This conference will provide opportunity for discussing the role of education research in interdisciplinary scholarship.
April 22, 2009 - April 25, 2009
Orlando, FL - This conference is designed to increase the professionalism of the child care industry.
May 5, 2009 - May 8, 2009
Greensboro, NC – The National Smart Start Conference is devoted to exchanging ideas about early education systems and strategies.
June 25, 2009 - June 27, 2009
Baltimore, MD – The theme for the 19th annual National Association for Family Child Care conference is "Defining New Horizons: Charting a Course to Quality Learning."
July 12, 2009 - July 15, 2009
Cambridge, MA – The theme for this year's summer conference for elementary principals serving children from age 3 through third grade is "Young learners in America's schools: What's in your toolkit?"
July 20, 2009 - July 25, 2009
Cork, Ireland – The theme for the IFDCO’s Conference is "Celebrating Quality Family Childcare."

Early Education News Roundup

March 25, 2009
Winston-Salem Journal
A North Carolina winning streak, longer than any enjoyed by our basketball teams, is in serious danger of ending this year. After almost 50 years of increasing support for early education, the General Assembly is on the brink of cutting what taxpayers do for our youngest students.
March 24, 2009
Austin American-Statesman, Austin, TX
Texas currently pays for half-day preschool, widely thought to boost student performance in later years, for qualifying children. But under a bill winding through the Legislature, the state would pay for schools to offer full-day programs.
March 22, 2009
The Beaumont Enterprise, Beaumont, TX
While pre-k attendance is not mandatory in Texas, it lays a foundation both socially and academically that can pay dividends in the long run, according to parents and educators. Steve Barnett, co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, said studies have shown that students who attend state pre-k programs are less likely to fail a grade or need special education-type services.
March 22, 2009
The News Tribune, Tacoma, WA
The waiting list for state-funded preschool has nearly doubled from last year, even though the state has added slots to the popular program, according to a statewide preschool organization. In January, 2,610 kids across the state were waiting to enter a preschool participating in the Early Childhood Education Assistance Program. A year earlier, 1,346 children were on the program waiting list, according to state statistics.
March 19, 2009
The Tampa Tribune
State leaders hope a scoring system will promote the importance of quality preschool and help parents choose the right programs. The Florida Department of Education recently released the latest scores for centers that participate in the Voluntary Prekindergarten program. The program offers free preschool for any 4-year-old through state-approved providers.
March 19, 2009
The Oregonian
Child advocates in Oregon want the state to invest more in early childhood education, namely Head Start. They recognize a massive expansion isn't realistic, so they're lobbying for modest growth.
March 18, 2009
Honolulu Advertiser
For every dollar that the state invests in early childhood education, $4.20 can be saved in the form of reduced spending on remedial education, crime, health and welfare, according to a new study released today by the Good Beginnings Alliance. The findings, included in the report "The Economic Benefits of Investment in Early Education for Hawaii," come as the state's newly formed Early Learning Council struggles to garner state funding to establish a statewide early learning system.
March 16, 2009
Anchorage Daily News
Publicly funded preschools, especially for children in low-income families, is an idea whose time has come. Research tells us that well-run preschools can improve the odds children will succeed in school, with better grades and test scores and less need for special education. That's especially true for children who live in poverty.
March 15, 2009
The Forum, Fargo, ND
The future of the state lies with its children. The better start they get in a preschool setting, the better prepared they will be for grade school, and thus for success in high school and college.
March 13, 2009
KTAR, Phoenix, AZ
The "First Things First" initiative has handed out $30 million to the North, South and Central Phoenix Regional Partnership Councils to help pre-school age kids in Phoenix with health care and early education. The money comes from a voter-approved initiative in 2006 that imposed an 80-cent tax on a pack of cigarettes, with the money earmarked for early education.
March 13, 2009
The Boston Globe
Plans to invest in early childhood are now part of the Democratic and Republican platforms. For every dollar invested in early education, states would save about $4 because children would be less likely to require expensive services, including special education.
March 13, 2009
Asheville Citizen-Times, Asheville, NC
More than 50 members of the N.C. House have signed on to a proposal by Rep. Ray Rapp, D-Madison, to merge More at Four into Smart Start.


This new report from Stanford University and the National Staff Development Council looks at teacher development in the U.S. and abroad, finding that while the U.S. is making progress in providing teacher support, it is often fragmented and disconnected from real problems in practice. The report profiles successes in countries such as Finland and offers recommendations.
This report from the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) examines state child care center licensing regulations and the oversight of those regulations. The 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense (DoD) were scored and ranked on 10 regulation and five oversight benchmarks. The average grade for states was an F, with 33 states receiving a failing grade and none earning an A. Only the DoD earned a B, while only the District of Columbia earned a C. The DoD ranked first for both regulations and oversight, but none of the states is on the top 10 list for both elements.