Volume 9, Issue 16

August 13, 2010

Hot Topics

On Monday, noted children's advocate David Lawrence Jr., stood on the steps of Florida's Historic Capitol and announced The Children's Movement of Florida a new citizen-led movement aimed at educating political, business and civic leaders about the need to make the well-being and education of infants, toddlers and other children Florida's highest priority. Never one to mince words, he told the Tallahassee Democrat the new initiative he co-chairs is needed because, "by almost every objective standard, Florida ranks poorly in measure after measure in how we invest in children." Lawrence, whose leadership was instrumental in creating VPK, the program that now enrolls 67 percent of Florida's 4-year-olds, says raising the program's quality is high on the agenda. He answers questions about the new initiative on our Preschool Matters ... Today! blog.
A new NIEER analysis shows that $248.3 million was cut from 16 state pre-K initiatives in FY 2010 and that more funding is proposed to be cut in 2011. If recent experience with budget cycles is any indicator, that number could grow. NIEER co-director Steve Barnett, who has called for federal help for state pre-K, cautions that "Even as we move out of the Great Recession, state revenues will continue to lag the recovery. Our elected officials must prioritize public investments that are pro-growth--as cuts will cost us and our children far more in the future than they save today."
Iowa newspapers are reporting that whether the state should pay for preschool education is a key issue separating Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat running for a second term, and Terry Brandstad, the Republican challenger who has served previously as governor. Culver favors continued expansion of Iowa's pre-K program which serves 29 percent of the state's 4-year-olds. Branstad says the government should not be in the business of paying for pre-K and has called for eliminating the program. He would, he says, favor some kind of pre-K partnership between businesses and nonprofits. Polls show Branstad with a double-digit lead.
A Columbia University study reported in Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development finds that, overall, children whose mothers went back to full-time work within the first twelve months after birth performed worse on a series of cognitive tests. However, it also found that kids whose mothers improved family income significantly, selected high-quality child care or remained sensitive to their children did not have cognitive setbacks.
A three-group partnership of the University of Florida, the Miami-Dade Schools and the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation will use a $5 million federal grant and $1 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to develop and teach a free, job-embedded master's- and specialist-degree program in early childhood education for 100 teachers in 25 high-needs elementary schools. The degree program will blend on-site and online coursework so teachers can remain in their own classrooms during their graduate studies. It's part of the Florida Master Teacher Initiative.
That's a good question and blogger Paul Nyhan addresses it in a series he began on his Birth to Thrive Online blog last week. His point: At a time when the ranks of children with autism and other disabilities are growing, these kids can be "stuck in the back rows of early learning debates." He says over the last six years, federal support for infants and toddlers with disabilities stalled while their ranks grew by 25 percent. Nyhan's is one of a growing list of quality blogs on early care and education. For others, see the Preschool Matters … Today! blog roll.

New on nieer.org

This presentation describes the benefits of science for preschool students, acknowledges the challenges educators face, and provides practical strategies for fulfilling our responsibilities to young learners. Assistant Research Professor Kimberly Brenneman delivered this featured presentation at the DLM Summer Institute in July 2010.

Calendar

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

August 12, 2010
The Expositor, Sparta, TN
Tennessee's Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program has now expanded to include all 95 counties with six classes in White County. Gov. Phil Bredesen announced last week that Tennessee schools have been funded approximately $84.7 million.
August 9, 2010
The Star-Advertiser, Honolulu, HI
A new law will end junior kindergarten in public schools in 2013 but could be the catalyst for the creation of a state-funded universal preschool program.
August 9, 2010
Education Week
The nation's elementary school principals lack access to the focused professional development to help them meet the higher expectations of modern early-childhood education, experts and advocates say.
August 6, 2010
KGO TV, San Francisco, CA
Right now, there is no state budget and the cuts to pre-kindergarten and afterschool programs the governor is proposing are sending panic through Bay Area school districts.
August 6, 2010
The Huffington Post
Most dramatically, these declines will be felt in America's classrooms. A declining U.S. economy leads directly to poorer school performance and lower school readiness.
August 3, 2010
Catalyst Ohio
But it may be difficult to fix struggling elementary, middle and high schools without first investing in a child's earliest years. Many of the country's educational leaders agree that high-quality preschool programs pay off, and research shows those programs can lead to higher test scores, higher graduation rates and higher salaries down the line.
August 3, 2010
The Star-Ledger
New Jersey has been gradually limiting the number of families eligible for wraparound services for years. Before 2007, any family living in an Abbott district could sign up. Then, eligibility was restricted to families with incomes at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Last year, the upper limit was reduced again to 250 percent of the poverty level.
August 3, 2010
The Washington Post
States across the country are cutting hundreds of millions from their prekindergarten budgets.
August 2, 2010
The Washington Post
Our education system starts at age 5, pays little attention to children's development and achievement until third grade, and is strewn with remedial programs to get older children back on track. Meanwhile, studies keep pouring forth that highlight the importance of children's earliest years – birth to age 8 – in developing the mental capacity that enables life-long learning.
August 2, 2010
OnMilwaukee.com
Last October, Gov. Jim Doyle signed a law that required Wisconsin children to complete kindergarten before being admitted to first grade. This law goes into effect this academic year.
August 1, 2010
Atlanta INtown Paper
This fall a new group of 5- and 6-year-olds will embark on the first significant milestone of their educational journey – kindergarten. Whether you've been through years of preschool or not, the transition into "big kid school" can cause parents and children alike some first day anxiety.
August 1, 2010
TimesDaily, Florence, AL
Pre-kindergarten may be "the missing piece" in an arsenal of tools state public school educators already use to increase high school graduation and curb dropouts, state education officials said.

Resources

This report provides average costs of child care for infants, 4-year-olds, and school-age children in centers and family child care homes in every state. The average cost that parents paid for full-time care for a 4-year-old child in a center ranged from more than $4,050 in Mississippi to more than $13,150 a year in Massachusetts. The average center-based child care fees for an infant exceeded the average annual amount that families spent on food in every region of the United States. Monthly child care fees for two children at any age exceeded the median monthly rent cost, and were nearly as high, or even higher than, the average monthly mortgage payment in every state. Data are from a 2009 survey of Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) State Networks.
This paper from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University is co-authored by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs.