Volume 9, Issue 2

January 29, 2010

Hot Topics

President Obama didn't mention early care and education in his state of the union speech but he did propose this week to double the child care tax credit for FY 2011. The proposal would increase the tax credit for middle-income families making up to $85,000 per year and would add a credit for families making between $85,000 and $115,000. Of course, the credit would only help families who after adding up their deductions still owe money to Uncle Sam. Lisa Guernsey at Early Ed Watch provides a useful analysis.
Michigan is saving $1 billion a year in reduced crime and education costs because children have had the benefit of state-funded pre-K, said state school superintendent Mike Flanagan in announcing the findings of a study commissioned by the Early Childhood Investment Corp. Among the savings were $220 million in public school expenditures due to less repeating of grades and special education instruction, $584 million less spent for juvenile corrections, child abuse, welfare and unemployment and $348 million less in social costs as a result of less crime and substance abuse. Michigan reduced its allocation for state pre-K to $87 million for this fiscal year.
Chris Christie, New Jersey's new governor, didn't sound like a defender of state pre-K last year when he compared it to babysitting in the primary season. His stance softened in the general election, however, and the report just out from the Christie transition team is anything but critical. It credits New Jersey pre-K for delivering lasting positive outcomes for children in both public schools and private settings. The transition team recommends suspending expansion of state pre-K in light of the state's dire finances but adds that provision of early care and education for at-risk children "should be an issue for review and consideration in the Christie administration."
An increase of just a few points in cognitive skills as measured by the Program for International Student Assesment (PISA) has big implications for improving nations' Gross Domestic Product, says a new study by the Organization for Economic Cooperative Development. If all 30 OECD countries raised their PISA scores by 25 points in the next 20 years, it would provide a gain of $115 trillion in total GDP over the lifetime of the generation born in 2010, the study says. Speaking to Education Week, economist Eric A. Hanushek at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, said if the U.S. replaced 10 percent of its ineffective teachers with average teachers, we could beat Finland, the highest-performing country in OECD on PISA.
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle recently announced a plan for creating YoungStar, a five-star rating system for child care centers in the state. According to the Journal Sentinel, the rating system proposal comes after a government investigation of providers and parents suspected of scamming the Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program. The Journal Sentinel drew attention to child care subsidy abuse in an investigative series by reporter Raquel Rutledge.

Calendar

February 3, 2010 - February 6, 2010
Denver, CO – The National Association for Bilingual Education's annual conference is designed for parents, teachers, administrators, and policymakers dedicated to serving English Language Learners in the United States.
February 18, 2010 - February 18, 2010
This web-based conference with feature live, interactive sessions documenting best practices.
March 9, 2010 - March 13, 2010
Washington, DC – The theme for this year's symposium is "Making Connections: All Children, All Families, All Settings."
March 25, 2010 - March 28, 2010
Boston, MA – The theme for this year's AMS conference is "Montessori in the 21st Century."
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 20, 2010 - April 23, 2010
Chicago, IL – The theme of this year's conference is "Winds of Change."
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

January 28, 2010
Columbia Missourian, Columbia, MO
As state leaders prepare to write a budget with less cash in the coffers, they have pledged to protect public education from the axe. But Parents As Teachers, a nationally recognized early-childhood education program funded by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, will receive less funding for the second straight year.
January 28, 2010
The New York Times
Massachusetts is the first state to add toothbrush time to the color-nap-snack-and-play routine of preschools, requiring that all children who eat a meal at day care, or attend for more than four hours, brush their teeth during class and be educated about oral health.
January 26, 2010
Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, AL
Alabama is in the odd position of having perhaps the best pre-kindergarten program in the nation, but only providing access to that program to a very small percentage of children in Alabama because of funding problems.
January 25, 2010
The Grand Rapids Press, Grand Rapids, MI
It might take 15 years for today's finger painters and "Sesame Street" fans to hit the work force, which is the challenge of arguing for public investment in early childhood education. But preschool saves Michigan taxpayers mountains of money and increases revenues -- about $1.15 billion over the past 25 years, according to the first comprehensive study of the state's programs for children from birth to 5 years old, to be released today by state Schools Superintendent Mike Flanagan.
January 25, 2010
The Blade, Toledo, OH
The University of Toledo is working to help preschool teachers better prepare their young students for a positive educational experience. A new program will help early childhood teachers receive their bachelor's degrees in a fast-track program for which they could receive substantial scholarships.
January 24, 2010
The Olympian, Olympia, WA
The Legislature can boost Washington's chances of financial success by signaling the state's long-term commitment to high-quality prekindergarten learning. Lawmakers can do that by including prekindergarten learning as part of the state's definition of basic education.
January 24, 2010
The Arizona Republic
The Raising A Reader Initiative, a multiyear project, is linking free literacy training with outreach activities in apartment communities to help children 5 years old and younger develop the skills they need to be successful readers.
January 23, 2010
The Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD
With permanent money proving elusive, a Sioux Falls public preschool program for low-income children probably will serve fewer students next school year when the initial funding runs out. Meanwhile, supporters of early childhood education again are looking to establish statewide standards for such programs in hopes the state will pay for them when the economy improves.
January 22, 2010
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Community leaders, child advocates and state lawmakers spoke out Friday in support of Gov. Jim Doyle's plan to rate child-care centers in Wisconsin and link their performance to state subsidy payments. While many of the details have yet to be finalized, the plan unveiled Friday calls for rating the centers with one to five stars depending on the education level of the staff, the curriculum for children, the business practices they utilize and other criteria.
January 22, 2010
The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN
The state doesn't have $23.5 million to spend, so the debate is academic. But lawmakers should know that investing in early childhood education is a better and less-costly way to ensure children succeed in school.
January 20, 2010
Irish Independent, Dublin, Ireland
The significance of the Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) scheme, which is under way from this month, must not be underestimated. It is a ground-breaking development in the childcare sector and means that children in Ireland, regardless of their parents' income, are entitled to one year of pre-school education free.
January 20, 2010
Daily Record, Jacksonville, FL
With the support of Gov. Charlie Crist and former Gov. Jeb Bush, business and education leaders unveiled a report filled with sweeping reforms that include doubling the funding for the higher education system and raising the standards for the popular Bright Futures scholarship program.

Resources

The Center for Law and Social Policy has a new web resource for the Charting Progress for Babies in Child Care project. New pages for each of the project's 15 recommendations feature tabs that contain research to support recommendations, research bibliographies, policy ideas, and other resources. CLASP is also developing online tools to help states chart their progress in improving infant/toddler care.
This video from The Foundation for Child Development and The New School Foundation takes us to the South Shore School in Seattle where pre-K has been successfully integrated into elementary school and a diverse group of children are making lasting gains. Viewers witness children learning in creative environments, watch an exchange between a member of the school's wellness team and a youngster who has mastered the skill of self-regulation and hear Laura Kohn, executive director of The New School Foundation, explain how her organization worked with the school in its integration effort.
Using state-level NAEP data, this brief from The Education Trust illustrates the pitfalls in one-dimensional appraisals of achievement gaps. The authors say analyzing the gaps from four perspectives is important in gaining a comprehensive, accurate picture of equity.