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Head Start

Federal Teacher Programs: Are Pre-K Teachers Part of the Picture?

June 29, 2010
Our colleagues at the Federal Education Budget Project have just released a valuable resource – a one-stop-shop for information on the size, scope and purpose of federal programs that support teacher training and development programs. Their work helps provide clarity on the many different federal teacher programs.  It is titled Federal Programs for K-12 Teachers.
There’s a backstory to that title that highlights a key problem for early educators. Notice that the title says K-12 and not pre-K-12. Why? Because it is often unclear whether these programs can be used by pre-kindergarten teachers. This ambiguity is often raised as an issue by pre-kindergarten teachers who are interested in attending professional development programs but whose administrators lack any clear guidance on whether they would be permitted to use federal funds for their training and development.

On Location: 10th National Head Start Research Conference

June 25, 2010
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This week Early Ed Watch ventured out to the 10th National Head Start Research Conference, Research on Young Children and Families: Launching the Next Decade for Policy and Practice. We attended several sessions and learned about some of the latest research on topics in early education from reading interventions to playful learning to mentoring and coaching programs to improve teacher performance.

Play & Literacy: Avoiding the Emerging Class-Based Divide

June 20, 2010
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The paragraphs below come from an article I wrote for the current issue of The American Prospect, which features a special report on reading by third grade. There are many worthwhile and thought-provoking articles in the issue, with contributions from  E.D. Hirsch and Robert Pondiscio, Sara Mead, Cornelia Grumman and many more. Check it out.

When the latest scores of our country's national reading test arrived this spring, they were as depressing as usual: Two-thirds of American fourth-graders, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, cannot read at grade level. Among Hispanic and African American children, it's even higher.
Considering the consequences of growing up as a struggling reader, you might assume that the solution is to help children build better reading skills as soon as possible. Research shows that the earlier specialists intervene, the more likely children will surmount reading difficulties. Surely, early literacy instruction is a good solution. What could be controversial about that?

Can Obama and Congress Repair Their Broken Promises on Early Ed?

June 10, 2010

Today we feature a guest post by David L. Kirp, professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, and the author of The Sandbox Investment: The Preschool Movement and Kids-First Politics. His next book is Healthy, Wealthy and Wise: Five Big Ideas for Transforming Children’s Lives, to be published next winter. He served on the education policy team during the 2008-09 presidential transition.

Kids’ advocates stood on the sidelines last March, watching helplessly as the Early Learning Challenge Fund, a $1 billion-a-year initiative to strengthen the quality of early education and child care, was stricken from the health care reform bill. The fact that early education wasn’t important enough to merit an up-or-down vote, instead becoming ensnared in the debates over health care and the restructuring of the college loan program, says a lot about what has happened—more precisely, what hasn’t happened—on the early education front. Despite the widespread recognition that good early education can alter the arc of children’s lives, the conventional wisdom, that children don’t matter because they don’t vote, endures. In national politics, children come last.

Book Event on June 22: Mind in the Making

June 8, 2010
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Join the Early Education Initiative on June 22 at 5:30 p.m. for a lively and celebratory event to highlight the latest research on child development and the science of learning. Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute in New York City, will talk about her latest book, Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs and show video clips from recent experiments conducted with young children.

All in One Classroom: Blending Head Start and Non-Head Start Students

June 2, 2010

Today we feature a guest post from Neela Banerjee, a former New York Times reporter who covers a myriad of topics related to religion, immigration and education (including a recent post about the Census). She is also the mother of a preschool-age daughter in Washington, D.C.  

When 3- and 4-year olds enter the District of Columbia’s preschool programs in the fall, those who qualify for Head Start won’t be trooping off to a separate teacher and, in some ways, a separate early childhood experience, as happens in most places. Instead, Head Start and non-Head Start students will be blended together in classes, part of an effort by the District of Columbia Public Schools to bring Head Start services to nearly all children in its full-day early childhood program.

Seeding Early Science in Northern Iowa

May 27, 2010
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More than 60 science educators from around the country gathered in Cedar Falls, Iowa, earlier this week for a first-of-its-kind meeting focused on two questions: How do we give young children more opportunities for high-quality, hands-on introductions to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)? And how – given costs and resource constraints – do we develop the early childhood workforce so that it can teach science well? 

Better Literacy Skills Linked to a Full Day of Pre-K

May 23, 2010

A new report from Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland shows that children who spend a full school day in a pre-kindergarten program do better on tests of reading skills by the end of kindergarten than their counterparts who attend for half the day.

After News of Fraud, HHS Plans Unannounced Visits to Head Start Programs

May 19, 2010

Unannounced reviews are coming soon to Head Start centers around the country in the wake of a report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office. It found several instances of Head Start centers accepting families with income levels too high to qualify -- with employees sometimes encouraging them to hide their earnings.

What Might Come from the Casey Foundation’s New Literacy Campaign?

May 19, 2010
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More than 25 years ago, A Nation at Risk raised the issue. High-level research summits on children’s achievement have flagged the problem for decades. Last year, even military leaders expressed their concern. We here at New America have tried to drive the point home too: It is beyond time to address the literacy problem in this country. More than two-thirds of fourth-graders are not reading at grade level.

Yesterday another voice arrived to amplify what is becoming a rallying cry. The Annie E. Casey Foundation announced the launch of a decade-long national campaign to get all children reading proficiently by the end of third grade.
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