Volume 9, Issue 6

March 26, 2010

Hot Topics

The Early Learning Challenge Fund that many considered the most progressive aspect of the Obama administration's early childhood agenda didn't survive the reconciliation process needed to pass health care reform — reportedly because some Congressional leaders felt keeping it might endanger passage. However, $1.5 billion for expansion of home visitation did survive. The Early Learning Challenge Fund's loss leaves some in the early childhood community wondering how much clout early childhood issues have on Capitol Hill these days. That's the subject of today's post on NIEER's Preschool Matters ... Today!
The Hartford Courant reports that the Connecticut Supreme Court has opened the door to changing the way the state funds public education. In a 4-3 ruling, the court found that the Connecticut Constitution guarantees students not only a public education, but one that prepares them for employment, higher education, and civic responsibilities such as voting and jury duty. The ruling doesn't prescribe changes but does set forth a new framework that says students have a right to a certain level of education. In siding with plaintiffs in the 2005 education equity lawsuit, the court sent the case back to Superior Court for trial.
Just when advocates were feeling good about the prospects for expanding New Mexico PreK, Governor Bill Richardson used his line item veto to eliminate a provision in tax legislation that would have earmarked part of a 75-cent increase in the cigarette tax for early childhood programs. The earmark was for one year and would have generated $11 million for pre-K and other early childhood programs. Richardson also made the cigarette tax hike, which was to have been in effect for four years, permanent.
Reading scores for American students have hardly budged, says the latest report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Fourth grade reading scores were unchanged from 2007. Achievement gaps between racial and ethnic groups remained unchanged as did the gaps between children who are and are not eligible for free lunch. Eighth grade children scored only one point higher in 2009 than 2007.
New research confirms that even when adjustments are made for environmental factors such as poverty, exposure to the insecticide chlorpyrifos is linked to delayed mental and motor skill development in children. Commonly used to control insects in crops like corn, cotton, apples, oranges, and almonds, chlorpyrifos was banned in 2001 for use in the home, where it was primarily used for termite, mosquito, and flea control.
Arnall Patz, the doctor who in the 1950s figured out that too much oxygen administered to premature infants caused overdevelopment of blood vessels, consigning a great many of them, including Stevie Wonder, to a lifetime of blindness, died last week. To prove his point, he conducted the first controlled clinical trial in ophthalmology.
Child Care Research Scholars grants are available to support graduate students as a way of encouraging child care policy research. Eligible applicants include doctoral level graduate students. For information about previous Child Care Research Scholars, see http://www.researchconnections.org/childcare/federal/ccb.jsp. Those with questions can email the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation child care research grant review team at ChildcareScholars@icfi.com or call 1-877-301-6977. Visit the HHS Grants Forecast site at https://extranet.acf.hhs.gov/hhsgrantsforecast/index.cfm to learn about upcoming funding opportunities from the OPRE.

Calendar

April 7, 2010 - April 7, 2010
CANADA – This webcast from the Council for Early Child Development is designed for practitioners and educators who want to learn more about the economic arguments for investing in the early years.
April 8, 2010 - April 11, 2010
Houston, TX – The theme for this year's National Association of Elementary School Principals convention and expo is "Mission Possible: Enrich Your World and Beyond."
April 11, 2010 - April 13, 2010
San Antonio, TX – This conference draws together national and international participants to discuss issues of relevance to family literacy.
April 20, 2010 - April 23, 2010
Chicago, IL – The theme of this year's conference is "Winds of Change."
April 27, 2010 - April 27, 2010
New Brunswick, NJ - The lecture will address educational inequities and discuss how New Jersey's system can be a model for reform.
June 14, 2010 - June 16, 2010
Lake Geneva, WI – This conference is targeted for professionals who work with children from birth through age 5.
June 29, 2010 - July 1, 2010
New Brunswick, NJ – The Rutgers University Institute for Improving Student Achievement's Summer Institute 2010 will begin a series of professional development sessions based on McREL's research on the effects of leadership on student achievement.

Early Education News Roundup

March 24, 2010
WLOX, Biloxi, MS
By investing in the education of young children, businesses would be growing a better workforce, ultimately bringing more opportunities to Mississippi. Some major corporations are already doing it, like Chevron's Excel by 5 initiative.
March 24, 2010
Opposing Views, Brentwood, CA
So, with a more realistic attitude in mind, we can "call the 1-(800) number on the screen," as long as we recognize that we are paying for learned skills, not I.Q. points. Probably the most important factors to consider in spending this type of memorization and learning time with your child is 1) whether or not this is an enjoyable parent-child experience, and 2) if it doesn't take away from the other important enrichment activities that babies should be doing during the months before preschool or kindergarten starts.
March 23, 2010
The Oregonian
The myth probably has survived and circulated for more than a decade because it reflects the more fundamental truth that there is a powerful connection between school failure and crime. Several early childhood studies have shown that disadvantaged children who enter strong preschool programs are far less likely to get mixed up in crime when they get older.
March 21, 2010
Asbury Park Press
New Jersey's system of high-quality pre-K is a prime example of a wise investment that ought not to be interrupted. We began this program in our most disadvantaged cities and towns and in less than a decade transformed poor quality child care into good to excellent preschool education that also meets parents' needs for child care.
March 19, 2010
Orlando Sentinel
Florida's pre-kindergarten program would be forced to place six more children into each class next year to help offset deep budget cuts moving forward in the state House and Senate.
March 17, 2010
The Island Packet, Bluffton, SC
Without knowing the number of students, test data, criteria for acceptance, etc., it would be difficult to evaluate the success of these programs, which have been in existence for about 15 years.
March 16, 2010
The Houston Chronicle
In Texas, a manicurist is required to have more hours of training than the person caring for your child at day care. And for the average working parent, decent state standards are a commonsense starting-point upon which quality child care centers would be spurred by market forces to improve.
March 16, 2010
The New York Times
Starting Saturday at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh, the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media will host its first conference, called "Fred Forward." The last two days of the four-day conference will bring together more than 60 experts in children's media to explore "creative curiosity, new media and learning."
March 15, 2010
The Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD
Some argue that a good preschool can be a great foundation for a child's education. Plus, some parents say, it's unfair to throw a child into a classroom structure without any preparation - and it's unfair for the teacher to have to deal with varying levels of kindergarten prep among children. Others wonder how far a child's education can be pushed.
March 15, 2010
The Wall Street Journal
To be sure, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama has been pushing for healthier meals in schools, and many child-care centers and preschools have upgraded nutritional standards in response to higher government standards, parental pressure or both. However, many U.S. private child-care facilities aren't subject to federal rules, and can–and do–serve a lot of low-cost, sugary, empty-calorie snacks.
March 15, 2010
Times Union, Albany, NY
A new report by the national business group, America's Edge, concludes that support for quality early care and education is one of the best investments we can make to jump-start our state economy while laying the foundation for a stronger work force and economic security in the future. The new research shows that early learning investments are highly effective in generating local sales for Main Street-type businesses.
March 14, 2010
The Hutchinson News, Hutchinson, KS
A week after the House Social Services Budget Committee had recommended $7 million in cuts to early childhood programs, the Senate's Social and Rehabilitation Services Budget Subcommittee on Tuesday recommended $12 million in cuts in three grant programs - including $5 million from Smart Start, a reduction of 59 percent; $5 million from Early Childhood Block Grants, a 45 percent reduction; and $2 million from Early Head Start, a 57 percent cut.

Resources

This fact sheet from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) provides guidance on immigrant eligibility for child care subsidies through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant.
This policy brief from Pre-K Now examines pre-K policies on the state level that encourage family engagement activities.
This report from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids examines data on the costs and positive effects of preschool participation and contrasts this with data on the costs of incarceration, both in regards to the state of New Mexico. The organization encourages the state to support preschool programs as an investment to "help build a stronger, safer America."
The Council for Early Child Development web conference, designed for practitioners and educators who want to learn more about the economic arguments for investing in the early years, will feature Lynell Anderson and Paul Kershaw, two of the authors of 15 by 15: A Comprehensive Policy Framework for Early Human Capital Investment.