Volume 9, Issue 20

October 6, 2010

Hot Topics

The latest Census Bureau data (collected in 2009 and early this year) show the gap between rich and poor in the U.S. is the widest on record. Last year, the top 20 percent of households—those earning more than $100,000 a year—received 49.4 percent of all household income. The bottom 20 percent—those earning less than $20,000—received 3.4 percent. The ratio of earnings between the top and bottom is about double what it was when the Census Bureau began tracking in 1967. Median household income fell 2.9 percent nationwide, from $51,726 to $50,221. It rose in only one state — North Dakota. Now 43.6 million Americans are living in poverty, the most in the 51 years the Census estimates have been published. NIEER Co-Director Steve Barnett writes about the implications for early childhood education at Preschool Matters … Today!
A survey just out from the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRA) shows that many families are still struggling. About 40 percent of parents say the current economy has affected their child care arrangements and they worry about not being able to meet their household expenses. Nearly three-quarters of parents said they support investing more government money in improving quality of care even if it means they would pay more in taxes. The report also shows parents' perceptions about laws, standards, and oversight far exceed actual levels of oversight by federal and state agencies.
The plastic additive BPA that's found in products ranging from toys to bottles to dental sealants can enter the human body through multiple routes and is more difficult to metabolize than previously thought, say scientists in a recent article appearing in Environmental Health Perspectives. Previous research found the chemical altered the reproductive systems of mice but newer findings show effects in rhesus monkeys as well, increasing the probability that BPA negatively affects humans. Whether to regulate BPA is one of the issues holding up the food safety bill in Congress.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced a reorganization that establishes an Office of Child Care (OCC) that will administer the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). David A. Hansell, acting assistant secretary for children and families, said creating the office will strengthen the quality of child care and maximize the program's effectiveness in achieving its dual goals of supporting employment for low-income families and promoting healthy development and school success for children. The OCC will replace the current Child Care Bureau and facilitate direct collaboration with the Office of Head Start and other agencies.
The Obama Education Blueprint: Researchers Examine the Evidence is a new book from the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder's School of Education that examines the research summaries in the Obama Education Blueprint. In it, reviewers, including NIEER Co-Director Steve Barnett and research fellow Clive Belfield, assess how well the six summaries represent the full body of knowledge in each of the reform areas. As might be expected, the authors questioned the quality of some of the research cited by the administration. The Blueprint represents the U.S. Department of Education's plan for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind Act). No word yet on when that might be taken up by Congress.
Tomorrow, October 7, Jumpstart's Read for the Record campaign will be out to break last year's record in which more than two million young children and adults set the world reading record for a single day. This year, the record-seekers will read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. The campaign, developed in partnership with the Pearson Foundation, will kick off on NBC's TODAY show and will be followed by thousands of large and small reading events organized by individuals, schools, libraries, government organizations and businesses nationwide. There's still time to organize your own event by pledging at Read for the Record's web site.

For the first time, readers can also do their part online through the We Give Books web site. Each time someone reads The Snowy Day, the Pearson Foundation will donate a new children's book to a preschool classroom Jumpstart serves.

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

October 4, 2010
The Washington Post
Last month, the Department of Heath and Human Services proposed regulations that would require the bottom 25 percent of Head Start organizations -- which can include nonprofits, municipalities and school districts -- to reapply for grants. Tough benchmarks on management, health and safety, and financial accountability will be imposed.
October 1, 2010
Arizona Daily Star
A "yes" vote on Arizona Proposition 302 means reducing the state deficit while dismantling a voter-approved early-childhood-development fund and the programs it supports. The measure would scrap "First Things First," a program created for children under age 5, funded with an extra 80-cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes voters approved in 2006.
September 30, 2010
Herald & Review, Decatur, IL
Recent changes in federal requirements for early childhood teachers in federally funded programs such as New Horizon, which is a Head Start school, mean lead teachers in each classroom have until 2013 to complete a bachelor's degree, director Rose People said. One teacher has completed her degree; 10 others are in various stages of finishing.
September 30, 2010
Wisconsin State Journal
The first two years of 4K is costliest to school districts in Wisconsin, which provides state aid for only one-third of 4K students in the first year of a program and for two-thirds of those students in the second year. But things start to balance out by year three, when all 4K students are counted for state aid and their numbers increase overall enrollment in the district ...
September 30, 2010
KXLY, Spokane, WA
An initiative on the November ballot called the Children Investment Fund aims to help reduce Spokane's drop out rate. Voters would be asked to pay 35 cents more for every $1,000 their property is worth to create a $5 Million fund for early childhood education, before and after school programs and mentorship programs.
September 28, 2010
The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS
Mississippi could save about $60 million and reduce crime if there was more investment in early childhood education, according to research by a national nonprofit organization.
September 28, 2010
Eye on Education (Strategies for Children, Inc.)
Today Show host Matt Lauer visited a pre-kindergarten classroom at the Eliot School in Boston as part of the NBC morning news program's week-long look at the state of education in the country. The Today host cites other statistics, too: Children in high-quality pre-kindergarten are 36% less likely to be retained in kindergarten, 30% less likely to repeat a grade later in their schooling, and have a 24% higher pass rate on an early literacy test.
September 27, 2010
The Daily Targum, New Brunswick, NJ
Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker, along with Facebook Founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, are putting politics aside in the pursuit of a common goal - improving Newark's public schools. The Harvard-educated Zuckerberg announced Friday on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that he would be giving a $100 million startup grant to the school district to establish the Startup: Education foundation, with hopes that others will match it.
September 24, 2010
Chicago Tribune
Illinois has improved the quality of its preschool programs but lags behind other states in grades K-12 and does not adequately prepare students to succeed in college and the work force, according a report released Thursday.

Resources

Maximizing the use of longitudinal data by linking that collected in early childhood education with that from K-12 is important because, among other things, it facilitates better research and is invaluable in tracking student growth, says this new policy brief from New America Foundation. Authors Laura Bornfreund and Maggie Severns address the challenges of data collection in Head Start and the states and make recommendations that, among other things, embrace the work of the Data Quality Campaign.
This brief from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), discusses recent data showing that behavioral and emotional problems decreased among 31 percent of young children under the age of 8 with mental health challenges within the first six months of entering systems of care. Caregivers' levels of strain also improved within six months of services.
The U.S. Department of Education recently released this review of the literature that is meant to help identify core features of effective professional development for early childhood educators. It includes research findings on: 1) strengthening human or social capital; 2) strengthening practices at institutions or organizations providing professional development; 3) strengthening early educator practices related to specific child outcomes; and 4) strengthening overall quality in classroom or group settings.