A Curious Proposal to Privatize New Jersey’s Already Privatized Pre-K

The recent New Jersey Privatization Task Force recommendations on pre-K disregard the facts and oppose the best interests of New Jersey’s children. The report highlights pre-K as an example of “successful” privatization, but then calls for the state to replace this successful private-public educational partnership with low-quality child care. This plan is taken straight from the playbook of former Governor Whitman who first tried to substitute cheap child care for education and failed. The plan was firmly rejected by New Jersey’s State Supreme Court then. Governor Christie and the legislature should reject it now, as well. How the Privatization Task Force ended up recommending the destruction of one of the state’s best known privatization successes is worth exploring in some detail.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

How the Arts Help Kids Develop

When renowned abstract expressionist Robert Goodnough created his paintings, he probably didn’t have an audience of 3-year-olds in mind — and when New Jersey built its performing arts center (NJPAC) in Newark, playing to preschoolers probably wasn’t high on the list of justifications. These days, however, both are regularly pressed into service to help young children develop a broader range of skills. Most people agree that exposing young children to the arts helps them develop but there hasn’t been enough said about how this should happen.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Why Curriculum Decision Makers Should Look at All the Evidence

Developing guidance on what works in early education is always challenging and that certainly applies to the difficult business of evaluating and selecting a curriculum. Whenever specific early education curricula are evaluated, judgment calls have to be made on the strengths and weaknesses of the evaluation including such issues as the duration and quality of training in the curriculum prior to the evaluation, how well the measures used actually measure children’s learning and development (are they broad enough and deep enough?), and how well any given curriculum is implemented in the classroom at the time the research was conducted.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

A Glimpse into France’s Ecole Maternelle

The overwhelming majority of early childhood education in France takes place in public preschools such as the well-known ecole maternelle. These programs must meet national standards and are sufficiently subsidized by the government to enable children from middle class families to attend at little or no cost. Not surprisingly, enrollment of French children in the ecole maternelle is near universal at age 3.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

By the Book: Approaches to Curriculum in State Pre-K Programs

There is no simple answer to the question of what, and how, preschoolers should be taught. The 51 state-funded preschool programs profiled in The State of Preschool 2009 Yearbook present a wide range of program interests and state priorities, and this continues to be true in the realm of curriculum.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Getting Child Care Right

Parents in need of child care are faced with many important decisions. To whom are they willing to entrust their children while they are away? How much of the day and what part of the week will children spend in child care? Which type of setting best meets their needs? How much of the family budget can and should be spent? Some parents will select from a broad menu of choices, including in-home care by another family member, enrolling in a child care center, or even hiring a private nanny. Others, due to circumstances such as poverty and geography, will have many fewer options. Regardless of their specific circumstances, many parents will struggle in choosing the right child care option for their families.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

What are State Programs Doing to Engage Pre-K Families?

Policies directed at encouraging family engagement continue to be of interest for the field as policymakers, researchers and advocates look for ways to improve early childhood education programs and child outcomes. The State of Preschool 2009 Yearbook collected data on family engagement activities in state-funded prekindergarten programs. Programs were asked about required engagement activities, as well oversight and monitoring of these activities.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Enhancing Policy and Practice for Young Dual Language Learners: What Does the Research Base Look Like?

It’s critically important that more and better data on English Language Learners (ELLs) be collected so the early childhood field can move ahead with much-needed analyses that can help inform policy on a number of fronts. NIEER’s compilation of state efforts to collect data on the ELL population and support of ELLs is a welcome development. As language issues continue to assume a higher profile in the field, it’s also important to bring together in one place a comprehensive look at the extant research base and develop recommendations for developing data going forward.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

Does State Pre-K Effectively Serve English Language Learners?

As the population of young children changes, there has been an increase in research focusing on English Language Learners (ELLs). For The State of Preschool 2009 yearbook, data were collected on the number of ELLs in state-funded prekindergarten programs, support services for ELLs and their families, and whether or not programs identify having non-English speaking family members as a risk factor for eligibility.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.

What the Yearbook Says About Teacher Qualifications

Findings from the 2009 State of Preschool yearbook indicate a slow down in the recent trend of increasing standards for teacher qualifications. Overall, for the 2008-2009 school year, 23 out of 38 states with pre-K programs failed to fully meet NIEER benchmarks for teacher qualifications. Qualifications include having a minimum of a BA degree and specialized training in early childhood education.

Please visit National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for the complete blog post.