Volume 9, Issue 18

September 10, 2010

Hot Topics

Answering that question is a bigger challenge than some might think. A GAO report says even though the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Education issued guidance on reporting the use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, the law's reporting system does not provide specific narrative fields for collecting information on how each sub-recipient is using the money. States, many of which have cut or furloughed public employees, are also limited in their ability to report the information in detail.

Meanwhile, the Education Writers Association (EWA), with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has developed EdMoney.org, an online database that lets you track spending on K-12 education from the federal economic stimulus law in states and school districts nationwide. The site currently features data on $62.1 billion in grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including 39,594 grants to 12,408 school districts and other education agencies. The database includes state stabilization funds as well as Title I and IDEA supplemental grants. EWA says it's the only site offering district-by-district breakdowns of education stimulus grants nationwide.
The age 5 kindergarten entry date in California will change from December 2 to September 1 if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs bill SB 1381, which passed both houses of the legislature with bipartisan support. The bill also provides for a year of "transitional kindergarten" before kindergarten for the children with fall birthdays. About 120,000 4-year-olds, including 49,000 English Language Learners and 74,000 kids in Title I schools, will receive high-quality early education. The expansion will be funded with money that would have been spent on regular kindergarten, says Preschool California.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a proposal from the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce calls for the state of Utah to provide optional preschool for at-risk kids and to adopt statewide optional all-day kindergarten. The proposal, which sets a goal of 90 percent of sixth graders and ninth graders reading and doing math at grade level, is part of the chamber's statewide Prosperity 2020 campaign and calls for the changes to take place over 10 years. A separate commission created by Governor Gary Gerbert also recommended the state invest in early learning to save money in the long term.
Preschool California reports a survey of registered Latino voters, who comprise 20 percent of voters in the state, found two-thirds of them think the state is doing too little to ensure all children have access to affordable high-quality preschool. More than half say the reason more Latino kids are not in preschool is lack of programs that are affordable and fit working parents’ schedules. Seven out of 10 respondents say they are more likely to support candidates who want to increase funding to make preschool and early learning more accessible and affordable.
Boston lawyer Edward M. Swartz, who was known as the "Nader of the Nursery" and who developed the 10 Most Dangerous Toys List, died recently at age 76 of heart failure. Swartz wrote several books (including Toys That Kill), is credited with spurring advances in toy regulation, and founded the nonprofit World Against Toys Causing Harm, or WATCH.

Calendar

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.
November 7, 2010 - November 9, 2010
St. Louis, MO -- The annual Parents as Teachers conference will focus this year on the future of early childhood and family support programs.
April 15, 2011 - April 16, 2011
Denver, CO -- This regional conference will offer workshops covering early childhood education topics relevant to teachers, administrators, researchers, health professionals, and policymakers.

Early Education News Roundup

September 9, 2010
The Coloradoan, Fort Collins, CO
An increased demand in state and federal preschool programs is a statewide trend, said Lori Goodwin Bowers, supervisor of the Colorado Preschool Program for the Colorado Department of Education.
September 8, 2010
Tulsa World
Early childhood education was formally put into play Tuesday as opponents continued to press their case against State Question 744 in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
September 7, 2010
Madison County Herald, Madison, MS
To find the key to economic growth in Madison County, look no further than 3- and 4-year-olds, education leaders say.
September 7, 2010
The News Herald, Panama City, FL
The intent of the nonpartisan group's "party" was to lay out its vision for putting children at the top of the state's priority list in terms of improved education and health care access, as well as a heightened emphasis on early childhood development. Group co-founder and President David Lawrence Jr. told a rally filled with area educators and children's advocates that he and others were trying to build a long-term movement that was "not about the next session of the Florida Legislature," but stood committed to sustainable improvements in state children's health and education.
September 3, 2010
News-Leader, Springfield, MO
Hailed as a way to combat cancerous issues such as crime and poverty, support for public preschool programs is growing among Springfield leaders. Nearly 70 business, city and education officials met Thursday to learn how another state worked to win over naysayers, find funding and improve access to early childhood education.
September 3, 2010
The Union, Grass Valley, CA
In May, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a nearly 50 percent reduction to pre-school services, cutting about $420 million out of the state's $840 million budget in an attempt to hack away at the state's projected $19.1 billion deficit. The cuts are on hold and now don't look likely, State Department of Education analysts say. But, the state's budget — due July 1 — hasn't been passed.
September 2, 2010
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The state has been expanding child development programs such as Head Start, Pre-K Counts and Child Care Works for about a decade. But with the state budget crisis, rising teacher pension costs and a new governor on the way, educators and advocates are worried about cuts.
September 1, 2010
The Huntsville Times, Huntsville, AL
Just let Dr. Marquita Davis, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Children's Affairs Office of School Readiness, tell you. Pre-K programs - which prepare students for kindergarten - are so important that schools should put their best teachers with their youngest students, according to Davis.
September 1, 2010
Telegraph Herald, Dubuque, IA
After a lackluster enrollment period this spring, a rush of parents enrolled their children in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for 4-Year-Old Children late this summer.
September 1, 2010
The New York Times
A Columbia University study recently found a doubling of the rate of prescribing antipsychotic drugs for privately insured 2- to 5-year-olds from 2000 to 2007. Only 40 percent of them had received a proper mental health assessment, violating practice standards from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Resources

This report from Pre-K Now and the Foundation for Child Development looks at how the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in Maryland developed and implemented a pre-K through grade 12 reform plan that resulted in substantial increases in early literacy and reading proficiency, higher high school graduation rates, and higher college enrollment. Based on interviews and school visits as well as planning documents, it draws five lessons from the MCPS experience that may benefit other school districts. The report's publication comes on the heels of a recent announcement by MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast that he plans to retire next year.
This early learning plan, mandated by legislation that created the state Department of Early Learning (DEL) in 2006, is intended as a guide for early learning and policy decisions in the state with the overall goal of building a statewide system that supports school readiness. It focuses on children from birth through third grade and is the product of DEL's collaboration with the state’s Early Learning Advisory Council, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Thrive by Five Washington.
This paper from the Center for Law and Social Policy and the Urban Institute discusses state and local solutions to improving access for immigrant families and specific strategies and collaborations used by providers, policymakers, and immigrant-serving organizations. Children from immigrant families are the fastest growing group of children in the United States. While many immigrant families face numerous barriers to accessing high-quality child care and early education for their young children, these barriers are not insurmountable, say authors Hannah Matthews and Danielle Ewen.
This white paper from the Data Quality Campaign makes the case for why states should build longitudinal data systems for early care and education, describes the 10 fundamentals of a coordinated system with state examples, and provides guidance on how to ensure appropriate access to data, which includes building the capacity for stakeholders to use the data for continuous improvement.
This brochure from the Data Quality Campaign highlights the importance of coordinated and longitudinal data systems and what states can do to start building them to inform continuous improvement in early care and education.