Volume 9, Issue 14

July 16, 2010

Hot Topics

On average, the quality of infant/toddler classrooms in Georgia child care centers is low and children in the lower quality classrooms likely experience environments that are inadequate for their health and safety. Such classrooms do not promote children's cognitive and social-emotional development, concludes a study by the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina. FPG also studied Georgia state pre-K, finding overall classroom quality was at the "medium" level but that the quality of instructional support was low. Even though many pre-K teachers had college degrees and reported participating in training, it has not yet translated into high-quality classroom practices, the study said. The data were collected in 2008 and 2009.
When the Illinois Board of Education adopted rules requiring public preschools to identify kids who are English Language Learners and provide them with transitional bilingual education, some wondered if they would really take effect. After all, doing so would make Illinois the first state to take such prescriptive measures and some educators had pointed out some parents of ELLs say they prefer their kids taught in English. Education Week's Mary Ann Zehr reports the last hurdle to enforcement fell when a panel of lawmakers with the power to object to the rules issued a certificate of no objection. School districts will be required to select a screen for establishing ELL status that meets state standards and provide the transitional bilingual instruction if 20 or more kids in a center are found to be ELLs.
A report from Johns Hopkins University evaluates the effectiveness of preschool curricula many of which also appear in the What Works Clearinghouse ratings. Several programs with low ratings from WWC, which has been criticized by curriculum developers, do better in the Johns Hopkins effort. Of the 28 programs included, 11 receive favorable ratings, with six showing "strong" evidence of effectiveness and five showing "moderate" evidence of effectiveness.

The challenges and limitations of these types of reviews are the subject of NIEER co-director Steve Barnett's latest Preschool Matters…Today! blog post.
States' overall tax revenues rose 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2010 on a year-over-year basis, marking the first such gain since the third quarter of 2008, reports the Rockefeller Institute of Government. The gain does not suggest a broad recovery, however, because it was largely due to tax increases in California and New York. Revenues for the second quarter of this year will be weaker than the first if data from early reporting states are an indication. The institute forecasts states' full fiscal recovery will take years.
Long-time education leader and teacher Celia C. Ayala is the new chief executive officer of Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP), the organization's board announced last week. Ayala has served as LAUP's chief operating officer since 2007, leading the organization's day-to-day operations, working with more than 330 LAUP network preschools to enhance and expand early educations services. She succeeds Dr. Gary Mangiofico, who had been CEO since 2007.
The Early Learning and Development: Birth to Third Grade strand of the U.S. Department of Education's 2010 Reading Institute kicks off next Monday, July 19 in Anaheim, California. NIEER-affiliated presenters at the conference include Co-directors Steve Barnett and Ellen Frede, Distinguished Research Fellow Dorothy Strickland, and Scientific Advisory Board Member Margaret Burchinall, University of California, Irvine. View the agenda here.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

NIEER takes a look at France's public pre-K system in this blog post.
In this post, NIEER's Megan Carolan and Dale Epstein discuss how the 2009 Yearbook informs us on states' policies on preschool curricula.

Calendar

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.
October 15, 2010 - October 15, 2010
New Haven, CT – The presentations and sessions at this conference will focus on four areas: play, policy, practice, and research.
November 3, 2010 - November 6, 2010
Anaheim, CA – This conference will address best practices, innovative programs, and research in child care, child welfare, education, family support, parenting, and youth development.

Early Education News Roundup

July 14, 2010
Portland Press Herald, Portland, ME
The precursor to reading success is exposure to a lot of language and literacy from birth to 5 years of age: at home, in child care, in preschool or Head Start. It is also the best time to intervene when a child has not been exposed to high-quality language and literacy environments.
July 14, 2010
The Charleston Gazette
The West Virginia Board of Education has approved 40 counties' plans for implementing universal prekindergarten programs.
July 14, 2010
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Another good year for the Georgia Lottery meant more money for the state's pre-kindergarten and HOPE college scholarship programs, but it isn't enough to keep state officials from worrying about HOPE's future.
July 12, 2010
The Macon Telegraph
Commonly called "quality improvement systems," these programs use stars or other benchmarks to help parents identify the best and worst day cares. Holly Robinson, commissioner of the state Department of Early Care and Learning (also called Bright from the Start), said the state plans to pilot a quality improvement program this summer.
July 12, 2010
Vermont Public Radio
Improving tomorrow's economy is possible only through smart policy investments today in our human capital - beginning with our youngest children.
July 10, 2010
The Record, Hackensack, NJ
Preschool advocates are worried that the recommendations, if enacted, would undermine an early childhood education system the state has spent more than a decade building in the wake of a court mandate to help at-risk children get ready for school. Governor Christie's "privatization task force" released a report Friday urging him to stop building new pre-kindergarten facilities at public expense, allow more students in smaller classrooms, and require public preschools to charge fees that reflect the full cost of running their programs.
July 8, 2010
Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL
Once again, Alabama's pre-kindergarten program has been chosen as one of the two best programs of its kind in the nation in terms of quality. But despite successful efforts of local school systems and the Riley administration to offer the program to more eligible children, it still reaches far too few of them.
July 6, 2010
The Indianapolis Star
Indiana does not require children to attend school until they turn 7. It does not require children to attend kindergarten at all. And it is one of only eight states that do not fund preschool.
July 6, 2010
The York Dispatch, York, PA
[State lawmakers] can't properly fund the popular and important Pre-K Counts program, which provides a free head start to children at risk of failing in kindergarten and beyond. One option to save the program, or even help expand it, is to charge those who use it -- but even a small fee might be too much for the families of children most in need.
July 3, 2010
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Every weekday, hundreds of thousands of Georgia's young children are dropped off at child care centers while their parents head off to work. Most of the infants and toddlers and many of the preschoolers likely go to classrooms that provide low-quality care.
July 2, 2010
Lansing State Journal, Lansing, MI
Lawmakers approved $98.6 million for the Great Start School Readiness Program, an effort to help low-income, at-risk children become prepared for school. The budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 now goes to Gov. Jennifer Granholm for her signature.
July 1, 2010
San Antonio Express-News
We cannot solve our educational crisis in Texas without a strong and committed investment in our youngest Texans. Ultimately, Texas taxpayers will pay the largest price tomorrow for a lack of action on early education today.
June 29, 2010
The Twin Cities Dailly Planet, Minneapolis, MN
Through better funding, Minnesota can improve and expand access to early childhood programs, so that more children are prepared for school. According to a yearly survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Education, kindergarten teachers say only 52 percent of incoming students demonstrate proficient knowledge, skills, and behavior.
June 29, 2010
WWAY NewsChannel 3, Wilmington, NC
If this bill becomes a law, it will prohibit private child daycares from serving sugar-sweetened beverages to kids of all ages. The new legislation would also prohibit serving whole milk to kids two years or older, serving flavored milk to any child, and would limit juice to six ounces a day.
June 28, 2010
The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS
Jalea attends Leaps and Bounds Developmental Academy, one of eight child-care centers in the Jackson metro area participating in Mississippi Building Blocks, a four-year pilot program that aims to improve early childhood education in the state by boosting the quality of child-care centers. The program has gone on for less than a year, but participating centers are showing progress, said Laurie Smith, executive director of Mississippi Building Blocks.

Resources

This special section in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25(3), 267-408 provides lessons learned in six different studies plus a commentary with a useful review of research on implementation generally and a useful list of issues to be addressed in research where implementation is an issue.
This report from the Urban Institute and Brookings estimates federal expenditures on children by looking at more than 100 programs in nine categories through which the federal government spends money on children. It finds that less that one-tenth of the federal budget was spent on children in 2008 — $295 billion out of a total of $2,983 billion in outlays.
Nationally, 19.3 percent of children under the age of 5 fall in the category of "food insecure," meaning they do not always have access to sufficient nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life, says this report from Feeding America, the hunger relief charity. Kids in the South have the highest level of food insecurity at 21.8 percent. The Northeast has the lowest level — 13.7 percent. Data for the analysis come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement 2006–2008.
This brief from the Society for Human Resource Management looks at the current state of the U.S. workforce and suggests its members take various steps to promote more high-quality early childhood education.