Volume 8, Issue 9

April 10, 2009

NIEER Activities

The release of this year's State Preschool Yearbook received substantial press coverage; hopefully some of your local media picked up on it. As you know, we purposely release the Yearbook at this time of year so that it can help inform state budget decisions. We've been told by many that focusing on the shortfalls of the state programs actually helps in efforts to bolster the programs. The highlight of the release coverage came last night when NBC Nightly News ran a segment on the potential budget cuts to state programs. The following link to the Nightly News segment is featured on our home page: http://nieer.org/yearbook/coverage/

We were honored to have the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan speak at the news conference where he and I also read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to preschoolers in a great DC public school called Oyster-Adams Bilingual School. The Secretary made it clear that budgets should not be balanced on the backs of our youngest children. C-SPAN will be broadcasting the entire news conference several times over the next few days. If you're interested in seeing what Secretary Duncan said in full, you can view the full press conference on the C-SPAN link available on our website from the same link above.

The media coverage surpassed our expectations by a wide margin. Newspaper articles, television and radio broadcasts carried the news that the latest yearbook shows state-funded preschool education continues to expand and improve — but that the threat of serious reductions in program funding looms as states face difficult economic choices.

"Recession Stalls State-Financed Pre-Kindergarten, but Federal Money May Help," wrote Sam Dillon of The New York Times. "Preschool enrollment and spending up amid concerns about economy's impact," wrote Associated Press writer Jennifer C. Kerr in an article that ran coast to coast. Prominent news outlets in a number of states put their local slant on the story depending on how well their programs are faring. Lynn Bonner at The News & Observer in Charlotte, North Carolina tied the new yearbook with news of a plan in the state Senate that would slash funding and reduce quality. Her headline: "More At Four may face 'disaster'."

The blogosphere weighed in as well. Writing in the Early Stories media blog, Liz Willen referred to the new yearbook and urged reporters to "think hard about dueling trends in pre-kindergarten education as long-planned expansions run into hard fiscal realities." Christina Satkowski of the Early Ed Watch blog wrote that the yearbook showed 2007-2008 was a good one for pre-K expansion "but gains may be shortlived…."

The research is clear on the benefits of a high-quality preschool education and you are at the forefront of making that happen for the country's youngsters. Thank you for all the hard work and diligence you put into helping children reach their full potential.

Steve Barnett