Volume 9, Issue 19

September 24, 2010

Hot Topics

Head Start organizations whose performance puts them in the bottom 25 percent of grantees will have to re-apply for their grants, putting them in competition with other organizations for the funding if rules proposed this week by the Administration for Children and Families are adopted. The proposal, which has long been among the reforms recommended by policy experts, also establishes a Designation Renewal System for determining whether programs are meeting standards, sets a 5-year period for all grants, and provides for a 3-year transition before it goes into effect. Comments are due by December 21.
Play for Tomorrow, the consortium of educators, authors and business leaders formed last year kicks off what it terms a new national movement dedicated to play-based learning with its "Ultimate Block Party" in New York City's Central Park on October 3rd. Among the luminaries involved in the event as spokespersons are Laurie Tisch, president of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, bestselling children's book author, Craig Hatkoff, and actress and mother of three, Sarah Jessica Parker. NIEER Co-Director Ellen Frede blogs on the play-based learning movement in this week's Preschool Matters…Today! blog post.
That may well be the case. In a recent study, preschoolers and 20-month-old infants appeared to use statistical information to tell when a character was randomly pulling toys from a toy box or was expressing a preference for one type of toy over the other. The kids inferred the character (dressed as a squirrel) had a preference for one type when there was a mismatch between the type of toys withdrawn and the population of types of toys left in the box. The researchers, who are from Cornell, University of California, Berkeley and University of Michigan, say their study, which appears in Psychological Science, supports the conclusion that the kids use intuitive statistical abilities in early social learning.
Researchers examining data from the National Early Head Start Research and Evaluation study say developing early language skills appears to be more important in helping boys develop self-control than it is for girls. Claire Vallotton, Michigan State University, and Catherine Ayoub, Harvard Medical School, examined data as kids aged from 1 to 3 and also data from their mothers. Boys with a strong vocabulary showed a dramatic increase in the ability to self-regulate whereas girls appeared to have a more natural ability to control themselves even if their vocabularies were not as strong. The study will appear in an upcoming issue of Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
Ounce of Prevention Fund executive director Diana Mendley Rauner has been elected to succeed Harriet Meyer who has served as president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund for the past 20 years. Rauner has overseen the expansion of Ounce's Early Head Start program and the organization's advocacy work during the recent budget crisis. Meyer, who has a long string of accomplishments, including playing a key role in Illinois passing its landmark preschool for all legislation, will head strategic initiatives at Ounce. In her new role, Meyer will be tasked with expanding Educare, Ounce's birth to five schools.
Anne Mitchell and Louise Stoney at the Alliance for Early Childhood finance have launched a new website. Mitchell and Stoney, who have worked together since 1997, say they've organized the site around the 4 pillars of their work – ECE Finance (including strategies and cost modeling), ECE Policy, Quality Rating and Improvement Systems, and Shared Services. The site also includes a library that houses reports, PowerPoint presentations, papers and memos that they have prepared for our clients over the years as well as links to documents prepared by others.
The Education Nation Summit will be held in the rink space at Rockefeller Plaza on September 27th and 28th. President Obama will attend the event and, policymakers, educators, members of the business community, and engaged citizens will participate in a series of 12 panel sessions on the challenges of America's education system. Among the topics slated for discussion are workforce readiness, developing great teachers, technology and innovation, parental involvement, early education, higher education, and the politics of education. The discussions will be covered on MSNBC and streamed at EducationNation.com and at msnbc.com live and on demand. Click here to post a question for the President.

Calendar

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 22, 2010
Michigan State University
Developing language skills appears to be more important for boys than girls in helping them to develop self-control and, ultimately, succeed in school, according to a study led by a Michigan State University researcher. Thus, more emphasis should be placed on encouraging boy toddlers to "use their words" – instead of unruly behavior – to solve problems, said Claire Vallotton, MSU assistant professor of child development.
September 22, 2010
Los Angeles Times
Because African American boys are academically behind even before they start kindergarten, their education needs to begin earlier, at age 3 or 4. Decades-long studies that have monitored youngsters who attended high-quality preschools, almost all of them African American children from poor families, show that they were significantly more likely to succeed in school than their peers who lacked that opportunity.
September 20, 2010
Concord Monitor, Concord, NH
The effects of poverty in a child's first five years last a lifetime. So do the positive effects of programs that mitigate the impact of poverty on the development of young children.
September 20, 2010
Connecticut Post
For those who work in early child care, the last two decades have been an exciting time, as research has revealed some of the inner workings of brain formation in infants, toddlers and young children. For instance, there is greater understanding of what parts of the brain may be more receptive to certain types of learning and at what times, which has helped to shape early child care and preschool curriculum.
September 20, 2010
The Free Press, Mankato, MN
Ready for K, a non-partisan organization endorsed by dozens of regional and local programs throughout the state, was in Mankato on Monday to collect feedback on a five-point policy plan being presented to lawmakers for consideration in the upcoming session. Titled "Minnesota's Future," the plan calls on lawmakers — and, more specifically, Minnesota’s three candidates for governor — to support five initiatives: * offer home visits and parent education to every first-time parent; * double the number of at-risk children participating in high-quality early education programs; * implement a statewide quality rating system for programs; * create community partnerships to leverage early childhood investments; * and, appoint a cabinet-level position to lead a statewide system of early learning services.
September 18, 2010
The Salt Lake Tribune
United Way of Salt Lake on Friday presented its 2010 analysis of community needs and a road map for the future, stressing the importance of early childhood education, financial stability and tackling the challenge of obesity. Areas of concern include: The percentage of children between age 3 and 5 frequently attending preschool has dropped 30 percent since 2003.
September 16, 2010
Early Years blog at Education Week
A big question looming right now as states finalize their budgets is whether pre-K programs will be sacrificed, or whether the invest early argument will force policymakers to shift priorities. In Texas, the Associated Press reports that the state's education commissioner is pushing to keep pre-K and slash science labs instead.
September 16, 2010
U.S. News & World Report
Interaction with teachers plays a crucial role in pre-kindergarteners' development of language and math skills, especially for children from low-income families, finds a new study. Children who focused on free-choice play spent little time on academic activities and made smaller gains in language and math than the children who took part in teacher-directed activities.
September 15, 2010
The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, PA
Harrisburg school officials must make difficult decisions in the coming weeks to close a $6.8 million deficit. But the proposal to eliminate kindergarten and pre-K programs by next year would be disastrous. It's the last thing the district should be cutting.
September 15, 2010
TucsonSentinel.com
[F]amilies could lose access to services offered by First Things First when voters decide in November whether to eliminate the program and funnel its $325 million to help address the state budget deficit.
September 14, 2010
The Boston Globe
A new report being released today calls for increasing the compensation of early childhood workers through such incentives as bonuses, earned tax credits, and loan forgiveness programs in an attempt to attract and retain a well-trained child-care workforce.
September 14, 2010
The News-Press, Fort Myers, FL
Poverty is the single largest factor determining a child's failure in school, according to Jumpstart, an organization that strives to narrow the literacy gap between poor and higher-income children.
September 14, 2010
The Salt Lake Tribune
The Utah Legislature took a major step three years ago toward improving the academic success rate of Utah children when it funded optional all-day kindergarten. But the progress made by thousands of children could come to a halt if funding is allowed to expire at the end of this school year.
September 13, 2010
WLBT TV, Jackson, MS
Mississippi currently lacks state funds in early childhood education, but some have said the state could reduce the drop-out rate and generate millions of dollars long-term if this changed.

Resources

This report from the Institute for a Competitive Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce explains the Chamber's Early Childhood Education Initiative that aims to provide information on early education to businesses and develop an early childhood education business network for the purpose of exchanging best practices on policies, programs and partnerships. The initiative will also identify model programs, develop an early learning tool kit for business leaders and train business leaders who wish to become active in the early childhood education arena.
This recently released U.S. Census Bureau report serves as an update on previous reports and tracks what child care arrangements children find themselves in when their parents are at work. Populations of children in various types of relative and non-relative child are reported. It also includes children in various types of care broken out by status of mothers.
Many states have implemented a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early childhood care and education programs. The National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center recently launched an online QRIS Resource Guide, which is intended to help states and communities better understand key issues and decision points during the planning and implementation of such a system. It contains an explanation and history of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems, descriptions of the key components of a QRIS, and state-specific resources. You'll find details at http://nccic.acf.hhs.gov/qrisresourceguide/
The Center for Early Literacy Learning (CELL) has published 15 new CELL practice guides with adaptations for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, which show how to adapt early literacy activities so that young children with disabilities can participate. The guides can be used by practitioners or parents, or by parents in collaboration with practitioners. They describe everyday home, community, and childcare learning opportunities that encourage early literacy learning. All are available online at http://www.earlyliteracylearning.org/pg_tier2.php