Volume 9, Issue 15

July 30, 2010

Hot Topics

David Leonhardt at The New York Times reports Harvard economist Raj Chetty has made public findings from his yet-to-be-published study of the life paths of children who were part of Tennessee's 1980s-era Project Star. Chetty says students who learned more in kindergarten were more likely to attend college than kids with similar backgrounds and more likely to save for retirement and earn more — $1,000 more a year at age 27 for a person who had a good teacher in kindergarten.
This week, Florida became the 30th state to adopt the K-12 common core standards for reading and math that were promulgated earlier this year. Experts expecting the adoption process to go slower say the Education Department's Race to the Top initiative, which awards extra points to states that adopt the standards by August 2, is a factor — along with the fact that the standards were developed collaboratively by the states. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute has published an analysis of how each state's standards compare, finding that the national standards in reading are stronger than those of 37 states and those for math are stronger than those in 39 states.
A report just out from Brookings finds that when it comes to academic performance, the Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ) Promise Academy is in the middle of the pack of New York City charter schools. That's not bad company as there are highly effective charter schools among the competition, but the report raises the question of why invest in broad neighborhood improvement programs, as HCZ does, if the schools-only approach used by other charters in the comparison generates equivalent or better academic outcomes as the HCZ approach. This question had already been raised by a study from Harvard researchers Will Dobbie and Roland G. Fryer. The Obama administration's Promise Neighborhoods initiative is modeled on HCZ.

The critique has generated considerable debate and both the HCZ response and the Brookings reply are worth reading.
The Center for Law and Social Policy reports that a key subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations has added $300 million for President Barack Obama's Early Learning Challenge Fund to its plan for FY 2011. That's in addition to $1 billion in new funds for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and $990 million in new money for Head Start and Early Head Start. The challenge fund, stripped from the last budget during reconciliation, has been championed in recent weeks by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who heads the subcommittee. As this is only a subcommittee action, and there is no authorization for the program elsewhere, this could be more symbolic than effective.
This week we welcome a new entrant to the growing community of high-quality blogs on early care and education. This one, titled ECE PolicyMatters, comes courtesy of Susan Ochshorn, founder and principal at ECE PolicyWorks, the New York-based policy analysis and consulting firm. Ochshorn says her blog is dedicated to the idea that early childhood professionals working on the field's front lines have often been absent from the policy debate and need to be more involved in shaping policy.
August 30 is the deadline for proposals for the 2011 National Smart Start Conference. They should support attendees' work in developing comprehensive community-based early childhood systems. The 2011 conference will feature workshops on ECE Program & Practitioner Support, Policy, Public Engagement & Advocacy, Governance & Administration, Standards & Accountability, Research, Early Childhood Systems Development, Family Support, and Early Care Health & Mental Health.

New on Preschool Matters...Today!

NIEER Co-directors Ellen Frede and Steve Barnett analyze a new report delivered to the administration of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie that calls for privatization of state pre-K.
How do painting, singing, and acting help children grow and learn? This is the topic of discussion on a Caucus: New Jersey series featuring NIEER's Judi Stevenson-Boyd and highlighted in this recent blog post.

New on nieer.org

Pre-K in Latin America is in the spotlight of NIEER's latest issue of Preschool Matters, which contains an interview with pop singer Shakira and news on NIEER's upcoming study of preschool education in Colombia. Also included in this issue are an update on state-funded pre-K in the U.S. from the 2009 Yearbook, a look at universal pre-K in New York state, and a review of Child Care Today by Penelope Leach.


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 28, 2010
DeSoto Times-Tribune, Hernando, MS
In Mississippi, where politics is the state sport and comparisons are often made with football, I was heartened to see Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and others at least beginning to study the concept of a public pre-kindergarten program in the Magnolia State. Studies show children grasp the basic building blocks of lifelong learning much earlier than previously thought, and there is a narrow window of opportunity to spark imaginations and set children on that lifelong path.
July 27, 2010
The New York Times
Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.
July 22, 2010
Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL
Thanks to the Alabama Reading Initiative and our state's First Class pre-k program that helps children get ready for kindergarten and beyond, Alabama is now leading many of our neighboring states in improving our children's reading skills. According to the Early Warning study Alabama ranks 37th in overall reading proficiency for fourth grade students.
July 22, 2010
The Natchez Democrat, Natchez, Mississippi
Like any building, student careers need a sound foundation, and a federal grant program called Project Beyond has strived to lay down the ABCs for some local children before moving on to kindergarten. The program focuses on phonetics, alphabet knowledge, oral language and the concept of print, Project Beyond Site Director Stella Gales said.
July 20, 2010
GlobalPost, Boston, MA
But a powerful array of economists, scientists, celebrities, businessmen and diverse others are also among a growing worldwide movement for early education. Five Latin American heads of state (from Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Panama) openly endorsed their proposal to ensure that all children under 6 in Latin America have access to early childhood development programs by 2020.
July 19, 2010
The Bay Citizen, San Francisco, CA
In a scene that is likely to be repeated in school districts throughout California in coming weeks, teachers and staff at the Helen Turner Children’s Center in Hayward spent last week packing boxes, hugging their colleagues and students goodbye—and collecting their last paychecks. In May, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would slash spending on extended-care programs by 40 percent, forcing districts to make deep cuts and working parents—most of whom have very limited options—to scramble for new childcare arrangements.
July 19, 2010
MetroNews, Charleston, WV
More and more West Virginia children will have access to quality pre-kindergarten programs starting next year. Office of School Readiness Assistant Director Clayton Burch says, as of right now, 15 county school systems have pre-K programs the state Department of Education has already approved.
July 18, 2010
The Billings Gazette, Billings, MT
Led by one of Montana's most successful industrialists, a group of nonprofits has launched a drive to bring large private donations to Montana's cash-strapped early childhood educational system — where the average teacher makes less than $17,000 a year.
July 17, 2010
Herald & Review, Decatur, IL
Supporters of early childhood education worry about the impact of cuts Gov. Pat Quinn has announced to education. Though preschool and early learning programs are supposed to receive the same $342 million they did last year, many of them haven't yet been paid for last year and had to dip into reserves to keep going.
July 17, 2010
Whittier Daily News, Whittier, CA
Believed to be the first study of its kind in Los Angeles County, the LAUP study followed more than 400 of its preschoolers, assessing their skills in the fall of 2008 in 24 categories of skills and behaviors like self-care, motor skills, self-regulation, social expression and general knowledge.
July 16, 2010
The Daily News, Memphis, TN
Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant says he's appointing a panel of business and education experts to study a privately funded early childhood development program with hopes of establishing a statewide model. Mississippi is the only state in the South and among only a handful nationwide without a state-funded prekindergarten program, according the state Department of Education.
July 16, 2010
Pacific Business News
Planned cuts to a program that helps special-needs children assimilate into early childhood education have been delayed because a state department failed to draft the necessary administrative rules to legally make the changes. The cuts to the state Department of Health's early intervention program, also known as the Part C program, were scheduled to take effect July 1.


This brief from the Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC) says there is little evidence supporting the contention that establishing national academic standards for K-12 schools will improve the quality of American public education. Moreover, argues author William J. Mathis, the standards push may distract attention from other vital reforms necessary for our schools.
This study published by the Education and the Public Interest Center (EPIC) finds that charter schools typically get less funding than the traditional public schools with which they compete. It also finds that those traditional public schools have additional obligations, accounting for much or all of the funding differences. Compared with public schools, charter schools spend proportionally more on administration and less on instruction and student support services.
This fact sheet from the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI) provides an overview of the Pyramid Model for interventions that promote the social, emotional, and behavioral development of young children.
Intended as a guide for policymakers and advocates seeking to increase inclusion in state-funded preschool education, this policy brief from the Education Law Center summarizes federal law regarding educating preschoolers with disabilities and provides recommendations to ensure that preschool-age children with disabilities receive an appropriate public education in inclusion settings.
This update report from the Southern Education Foundation (SEF) provides an overview of the success of the region in offering state-funded preschool education and encourages states to continue their commitment to pre-K programs despite economic hardships.
This web site contains a variety of resources on Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) for early care and education programs.