Volume 9, Issue 13

June 25, 2010

Hot Topics

A new analysis of federal and state measures of children's reading proficiency shows the tendency of states to find that more of their kids are performing above average while the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) shows only one-third of 4th graders reading at a proficient level. Bill Bentley, CEO of VOICES for America's Children, which did the analysis, says the states show a "Lake Wobegone Effect" in which their children are above average and doing so is incentivized by federal dollars. He said the new common core standards represent a first step toward higher standards and true evaluation.
Children born to mothers who lived near cell phone towers while pregnant had no higher risk of childhood cancer than those not living near towers, say researchers writing in the British Medical Journal. They examined the records of more than 1,000 children up to 4 years old who had leukemia or brain or central nervous system tumors, compared them to similar kids who didn't have cancer, and measured how far the pregnant moms lived from cell towers. They caution that their results don't say anything about whether exposure to cell tower radio frequencies might affect the kids' future propensity to develop cancer.
The Texas state Republican Party has released its 2010 platform containing the following language: "Early Childhood Development – We believe that parents are best suited to train their children in their early development and oppose mandatory pre-school and Kindergarten. We urge Congress to repeal government sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development." (NIEER notes that no state mandates preschool attendance.)
Raquel Rutledge, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter who won a Pulitzer for her reporting on fraud in state child care, now reports that the $100 million in projected saving from the state crackdown is being used for other purposes such as keeping state parks and highway rest stops open.
The Tennesseean reports that thanks to a joint effort by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen's Books from Birth Foundation and Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, more than 214,000 kids age 5 and under have received more than 10 million books. A person making a $24 donation to the governor's foundation ensures that some child receives one free book a month in the mail for a year. All Tennesseans under age 5 are eligible to participate.

Calendar

June 29, 2010 - July 1, 2010
New Brunswick, NJ – The Rutgers University Institute for Improving Student Achievement's Summer Institute 2010 will begin a series of professional development sessions based on McREL's research on the effects of leadership on student achievement.
June 29, 2010 - June 29, 2010
This live web chat will focus on what kind of identification, language testing, and services are appropriate for preschoolers whose first language isn't English.
July 11, 2010 - July 14, 2010
Columbus, OH – The conference aims to guide participants towards the development of innovative strategies integrating early learning in elementary schools.
July 11, 2010 - July 14, 2010
Riga, Latvia – This conference will discuss research, evidence-based practices, and innovations in special education and inclusive services.
July 15, 2010 - July 17, 2010
Nashville, TN – Topics addressed at this conference for family child care providers include child-based curriculum, policies, and quality improvement.
July 19, 2010 - July 21, 2010
Anaheim, CA – This year, the Department of Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will offer a separate Early Learning and Development Strand at the 2010 Reading Institute.
July 19, 2010 - July 21, 2010
New Haven, CT – A leadership and staff development conference that will feature the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum. This conference is for educators interested in Schools of the 21st Century, family resource centers, and the whole child approach.
July 27, 2010 - July 29, 2010
Atlanta, GA – At this conference, participants will learn about the Piramide Method of Early Learning as a framework for early care and learning.
August 11, 2010 - August 13, 2010
Goteborg, Sweden – This conference will focus on children's rights and education for sustainable development in a local and global context.
August 18, 2010 - August 20, 2010
Portland, OR – This year's forum provides participants with opportunities to learn innovative approaches connecting theory to action.
September 22, 2010 - September 24, 2010
Arlington, VA – This annual event provides participants with the opportunity to discuss and influence federal education policy.

Early Education News Roundup

June 24, 2010
Tulsa World
Weeks after the close of the legislative session, state leaders have taken the unusual step of issuing strong statements calling on state education leaders to protect Oklahoma's nationally recognized early childhood education programs.
June 24, 2010
Centre Daily Times, State College, PA
We have strong evidence that our investment in Pennsylvania's early education programs is producing returns. Child outcomes for at-risk preschoolers participating in Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program show that at the beginning of this school year, less than 20 percent of children entered the program with age-appropriate language and literacy skills.
June 23, 2010
The Providence Journal, Providence, RI
Ready to Learn's program is one of seven classrooms in four cities taking part in the state's first publicly funded pre-kindergarten program, a two-year experiment to see whether academically rich classrooms will give students, particularly low-income children, an edge in kindergarten and beyond.
June 23, 2010
The Boston Globe
A new study by the Watertown-based Bright Horizons Family Solutions due out today echoes this sentiment. Not only are employees less stressed when they have access to employer-sponsored child care, according to the survey, they enjoy their jobs more, work harder, and have fewer health problems than employees without it.
June 22, 2010
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Despite a projected $100 million savings from cracking down on fraud in the state's taxpayer-financed child care program over the next two years, regulators and lawmakers are still scrambling to find money to fund a program they say is critical to improving child care in Wisconsin.
June 20, 2010
The Republic, Columbus, IN
The long-range hope is that the Indiana General Assembly will put the state in the same ranks with the majority of other states that support preschool. The need for such a measure is obvious and one that has been demonstrated in vivid detail in this community.
June 18, 2010
The Columbia Daily Tribune, Columbia, MO
[Officials] talk about an initiative to rate Columbia's early-childhood private centers. They also share plans to implement a statewide universal pre-kindergarten program years from now, among other ideas for improving access to early schooling.
June 17, 2010
The Fort Scott Tribune, Fort Scott, KS
To enhance early educational opportunities for Kansas children, Governor Mark Parkinson has created the Kansas Early Childhood Advisory Council. Early childhood education and developmental programs have shown to enhance children's cognitive, social, and emotional development to better prepare them for kindergarten.
June 15, 2010
Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, SD
Following another push in Rapid City this month to start a pre-kindergarten pilot program in the state, opponents continue to argue that a state-funded program would unnecessarily reinvent the wheel and pour money into programs that have not been proven successful.
June 12, 2010
The Record, Stockton, CA
Efforts are under way to create a child-care rating system in California that would assess quality based on staff education, parent involvement, adult-child interaction and other factors that advocates say are important in supporting learning and development among very young children. A child-care business that simply meets basic health-and-safety regulations, for example, would receive a lower rating than one in which caregivers also hold advanced degrees in child psychology.

Resources

This brief from Strategies for Children looks at ways that several states have implemented quality rating systems and incentives they utilize to encourage providers to participate in them; ranging from per-child rate bonuses in Pennsylvania to facilities improvement loans in North Carolina to tax credits provided to families enrolling children in quality programs in a number of states.
This brief from Child Trends defines school readiness and examines how states are addressing the issue through standards, early learning guidelines and, in states where it exists, school readiness assessment. Also discussed are the various domains of learning and family and community support. User-friendly tables provide a snapshot of progress states have or haven't made on various aspects of school readiness.