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Early Ed’s 10 Hot Spots to Watch in 2013

January 4, 2013
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Each January, Early Ed Watch predicts where we will see the most action, innovation and consternation in the year ahead. Here are the hot spots we see for 2013. Notable is the absence of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary School Act, otherwise known as No Child Left Behind. Prognosticators don’t give the bill much chance of making progress this year, given stalemates between the two houses of Congress.

The Child Care Development Block Grant, on the other hand, could see some action on Capitol Hill.  Debates on how to evaluate teachers will likely continue to dominate, as they did in 2011 and 2012. And at least one topic has popped up consistently since 2010 when we started this exercise: Head Start reform via the new "re-competition” process.

13 Issues That Dominated Early Ed News in 2012

December 20, 2012

Before taking a holiday break, Early Ed Watch has a tradition of looking back at the most significant issues we have covered over the past year.  Many of these topics generate worry and a feeling of discouragement, especially over the lack of funds to improve children’s access to high-quality pre-K and full-day kindergarten programs. But some signal hope, providing educators and policymakers new ideas for making improvements despite constrained resources.

Save the Date for January Event: Turnaround 2.0

December 20, 2012

Save the date for Turnaround 2.0:  School Improvement Strategies that Tap the Potential of the PreK-3rd Grades, an event on January 14, 9-11 am, at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. We will highlight small and large-scale PreK-3rd initiatives that are helping to transform elementary schools and to improve learning outcomes for students.

Join us for an engaging discussion on what needs to be in place to scale-up and replicate initiatives that have promising results. More details to come in early January.

Q & A with Jacqueline Jones

December 18, 2012

Jacqueline Jones, our country’s first Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning, left her post at the U.S. Department of Education earlier this month. Early Ed Watch had the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Jones. Below is the complete interview, edited for typographical errors only.

Podcast: Apps, Reading, Head Start and Kindergarten

December 10, 2012
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The Education Watch podcast this week covers a lot of ground that pertains to early education. We talk about a forthcoming Head Start brief, news from the U.S. Department of Education on Race to the Top (including five new winners of Early Learning Challenge grants) and new commentary in Ed Week on half-day kindergarten and the mismatch with the Common Core. 

Turnarounds in Elementary Schools: New U.S. Dept of Ed Data Leaves Us Wanting

November 30, 2012

The U.S. Department of Education has released some preliminary results on the effectiveness of the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program, a $545 million annual program into which the Obama administration poured an additional $3 billion in 2009 stimulus funds to “turn around” failing schools.

Upcoming Webinar on Using Data on Children's Progress to Inform Teaching

November 29, 2012

Anyone who has grappled with questions of what to do with data from child assessments  whether based on observations of children's development over months or simple snapshots of early literacy learning  will want to tune in to the next webinar coming from the PreK-3rd Grade National Work Group.

Map: Election Results from PreK-12 Races Across the Country

November 14, 2012

There was a lot of education-related activity in the states this election season, from a ballot initiative in San Antonio that will raise the sales tax to help pay for pre-K, to the race for Indiana superintendent, where controversial incumbent Tony Bennett lost to challenger Glenda Ritz, who reportedly got more votes in the race than Governor Pence did.

We put together this interactive map to help readers peruse some state-by-state results of key races that will affect early education in the states in coming years. Scroll over states to find out more about who ran, who won and where there could be big policy changes afoot.

State-by-State Results of Key Early Ed-Related Races and Ballot Initiatives

A special thanks to Megan Carolan of NIEER, who contributed research to this map.

Update: The Washington gubernatorial election was called for Inslee (D). Voters in Washington state also approved Initiative 1240 to allow charter schools.

Our Guesses and Hopes for Early Education in Obama’s Second Term

November 7, 2012

What might President Barack Obama’s second term mean for education? In short: four more years. Education Secretary Arne Duncan—a member of Obama’s Chicago circle, with whom the president played basketball on Election Day—has indicated he would like to stay in his job, and Obama’s campaign trumpeting of education policies such as Race to the Top show the administration’s aggressive approach to competitive grant programs, meant to cajole states and districts into embracing favored reform strategies, will likely continue.

Early learning advocates will be pleased programs such as Head Start are less likely to be severely cut with a Democratic Senate and White House to help safeguard them. And the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education now have the chance to continue to forge needed links between their agencies. But those who thought Obama’s early education policies were “too little too late” might remain disappointed. The president made almost no effort to outline a plan for early learning during this campaign, especially compared to the promises of 2008, and has not specifically indicated what he proposes to do for the youngest learners. That said, there are murmurs from Obama insiders that a broad-spectrum approach to early childhood education, including the often-forgotten early grades (K-3) of elementary school, could emerge as a theme in the second term. A Tuesday night press release from the nation’s largest teachers’ union, the National Education Association, hinted at a desire to hold the president accountable for making headway on early childhood investments. “Throughout the campaign,” the statement said, “the president pledged to invest in education—especially in early childhood education—and to make higher education more affordable.” 

At National Journal: Duncan’s Early Learning Agenda

November 5, 2012

Last week the National Journal Education Experts blog asked about Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s first term legacy.

In my response, I highlight Duncan’s work to set the stage for improving early learning from birth through 3rd grade. I also suggest priorities for Duncan should he get the opportunity for a second term:

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