Leadership Matters: Governors’ 2011 State Pre-K Budgets Run the Gamut

If all of the governors’ FY 2011 budgets were to pass as proposed, total state pre-K funding would remain roughly the same as FY 2010 – about $5.3 billion, says Pre-K Now’s just-released Leadership Matters report. Beyond the national total, however, lie big variations, ranging from expansion plans in Alabama to elimination of state pre-K in Arizona. Among the highlights are these:

Nine governors would increase pre-K investments. These proposals would increase funding for early learning in these states by a total of $78.5 million.

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

Using The State of Preschool 2009: What You See In Print is Only Part of What You Get

Each year, when we publish the NIEER State of Preschool Yearbook, we rank the various state pre-K programs based on children’s access to them and resources allocated to pre-K in each state. Beyond these rankings, however, there’s lots to learn from the print edition and even more in the online edition, which contains an informative appendix.

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

Education Can “Shore Up” New Jersey’s Image

Linda Darling-Hammond’s recent lecture at the Education Law Center in Newark could not have come at a more appropriate time for concerned New Jersey educators. Except for heated debates between a newly elected governor and the New Jersey Education Association, the only notoriety that New Jersey has received lately has been Jersey Shore, a silly reality television show glorifying bar-hopping, fake tans and unruly hair poufs. Surely, New Jersey has more to offer than “GTL” (that would be gym, tan, laundry) and the popular show’s cast of mostly non-Jersey residents. Darling-Hammond’s lecture highlighted New Jersey’s progress as a national leader in education and her comments came against a backdrop of harsh economic reality that many in the audience clearly felt could have a deleterious effect on that progress in the form of imminent budget cuts.

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

Steven Barnett: Thoughts on the State of Preschool

Today I visited a wonderful publicly funded preschool program run by the AppleTree Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. In D.C., 40 percent of 4-year-olds attend the District’s preschool programs and nearly a quarter of the 3-year-olds. The programs meet high standards and are adequately funded. I don’t know if all of them are up to the high standards of AppleTree, but I do know that far too few children in the rest of the nation have the opportunity to attend such programs. In fact, I think we may have reached a peak in 2009 when one-quarter of all children attended a state pre-K program at age 4, and things have turned worse since.

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

A First Step, But Common Core Standards Must Meet the “Goldilocks Test”

It’s no surprise that the K-12 Common Core State Standards posted for comments by the Center for Best Practices at the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers received plenty of them from early childhood professionals. After all, this effort in standards-making, when complete, will directly impact teaching and curriculum, if used as intended, and clearly affect state policy pertaining to kindergarten and the early grades. If what we know about the way young children learn and what they know isn’t sufficiently taken into account, new standards could also have unintended negative consequences for the preschool years.

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

Anatomy of a Subsidized Child Care Fraud

Congratulations are due Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel who took home a Pulitzer Prize for her series “Cashing in on Kids” that exposed deception and fraud in the $350 million Wisconsin Shares program. Besides being compelling reading, Rutledge’s series is a cautionary tale for policymakers and administrators of child care programs. That’s because, in addition to outright fraud, Rutledge documents ways in which the program’s system of rules and regulations, along with lax enforcement, enabled some parents and providers to abuse the system in ways that were perfectly legal. One such example is an arrangement by which sisters or other relatives were able to stay home, swap kids, and receive taxpayer dollars.

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

Retired Air Force General Norman R. Seip: Expanding High-Quality Pre-K is a Matter of National Security

Over the years, the ranks of those advocating for expanding public pre-K have grown as economists and business leaders made the case that providing all kids with a high-quality early education is essential to America’s future competitiveness. Now a growing list of the nation’s top military leaders say doing so is also a matter of national security. Having served as a Lieutenant General in the Air Force, including a command of 46,000 airmen assigned to 12th Air Force, General Seip is intimately acquainted with what it takes to organize, train and equip our armed forces so they can defend against threats to our nation. He is also a leader of a relatively new organization, Mission: Readiness, which advocates for improving the quality of and access to preschool education.

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

Close Encounters of the Pre-K Kind

So much that’s written about preschool education these days comes from “on high” that we run the risk of forgetting how much it is, at its core, a series of close encounters between teachers and the likes of Kevin the serial anti-sharer, Alan the artistically inclined, and Ali the perpetually dancing cheerleader. In her engaging new book Good Morning, Children: My First Years in Early Childhood Education, Sophia Pappas provides an antidote to that and a window into the world that is her New Jersey Abbott Preschool Program classroom. Along the way, we become acquainted with Kevin, Alan, Ali, and their classmates and more important, what spells success for this teacher and the renowned pre-K program of which she was part.

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

Health Care Reform: Early Learning Challenge Fund Dropped but Home Visitation Survives

We were bitterly disappointed to learn that the Early Learning Challenge Fund didn’t survive the rough and tumble of the health care reform effort. It represented much that was good about the Obama approach to education. Using competitive grants to fund better quality, better-coordinated services for children from birth to age 5, as the program proposed, would go a long way toward addressing the many deficiencies in our early childhood system.

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

Calling All Doctoral Students: Dissertation Funding Available

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 enrolled in accredited public, state-controlled, and private institutions of higher education, including Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), and faith-based institutions of higher education. Applications are due May 3, 2010.

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