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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.

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. 

The Half-Day Kindergarten-Common Core Mismatch

  • By
  • Laura Bornfreund,
  • New America Foundation
December 4, 2012 |

This fall, millions of 5-year-olds donned backpacks full of school supplies for the first time as they headed off to kindergarten. Depending on where they live, however, these children are having widely divergent experiences, with some attending full-day kindergarten and others offered only half-day classes. And yet the new national English/language arts and math standards they are expected to meet are exactly the same.

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.

A Recommendation for a First Step Toward Better Pre-K and K Data

November 19, 2012

Currently, it is impossible to know how many children are enrolled in publicly funded pre-K within the boundaries of any given district. This is a serious impediment, not just for local superintendents and principals who are in the dark about the educational backgrounds of their schools’ incoming kindergarteners, but also for policymakers, who can’t effectively discuss issues of equity and access without good data to make comparisons. 

NewsHour Highlights Pre-K, Kindergarten Disparities and ‘New Breed’ of Pediatrician

November 19, 2012

A recent segment on PBS NewsHour creatively knit together two oft-forgotten elements for ensuring that more children learn to read: the power of the pediatrician and the disparities in access children face not just in preschool but also in full-day kindergarten.  

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.” 

States to Watch on November 6: Early Ed in NH, WA, VA and More

November 1, 2012

The November 6th elections are fast approaching, and in addition to the important implications of the presidential race for students, teachers and education advocates, hundreds of down-ticket races will determine policy across the country.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve highlighted some of these key races for you during our biweekly education podcasts.  Take a look back before the campaigns hit the final stretch!

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