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The Top Early Ed News of 2010

December 22, 2010
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Before we close for the holidays, it’s time to take stock of what transpired in 2010 and look back on the many issues we’ve covered. We can’t tie it all up with a bow, but consider this click-and-find list our gift to you. Happy New Year!

Update on FY 2011 Federal Funding

December 21, 2010

Congress has decided not to finalize fiscal year 2011 spending levels until next year. Until it finalizes funding, Congress has temporarily funded most federal programs at the 2010 level.

What this means is that the next Congress, which will be sworn-in in early January, will ultimately determine the final fiscal year 2011 spending levels.

On December 8, the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution (CR) to maintain funding levels through the end of the fiscal year, which ends September 30.

Podcast: Apps, iPhones and Young Kids

December 14, 2010
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Last year, an analysis of education content on iTunes highlighted a surprising statistic: Of the "apps" in the education section of the iTunes app store, the greatest percentage of children's titles are aimed at toddlers and preschoolers. What are those apps like? Why are they so popular? Do they really deserve the label "educational" – or are they no more than eye-candy for the next generation of gamers?

A new report released last month, Learning: Is There An App for That?, takes an in-depth look at these "educational apps." Adult mobile devices, it says, are turning into temporary playgrounds for young kids because parents often pass them back to their young children while, say, driving to the store. In fact, this phenomenon now has a name –  the "pass-back" effect. For this podcast, I spoke with Carly Schuler, who co-wrote the report with Cynthia Chiong, research associate at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.  Schuler and I talked about what makes these apps attractive to young kids, which apps show signs of being developmentally appropriate, and what teachers and parents should keep in mind when – as happens often in our house – children start asking "Mom, can I play on your phone?"

Comparing Kids Internationally - Elementary School vs. High School

December 13, 2010

A few months ago, an education analyst asked me why we need to focus on improving the quality of educational experiences for young children. From what he had seen on international tests, it looked like American children were scoring well on tests in 4th grade compared to their counterparts in other countries. It was in the later grades, he said, that Americans' test scores started to look so lousy.

A column today by Daniel Willingham, a cognitive scientist at the University of Virginia, provides part of the answer.

Rep. Kline's Education Priorities

December 10, 2010

The Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives announced their leadership this week, tapping Rep. John Kline (R-MN) as chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. What this means for early education programs is yet to be seen, though there is potential for more funding for young children with special needs.

Getting Closer—FY 2011 Appropriations Update

December 10, 2010

When we last reported on federal appropriations, Congress had just passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government operating through December 3, 2010. The CR was subsequently extended through December 18, 2010, allowing Congress more time to pass a federal spending bill for fiscal year 2011.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed what it is calling the “Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011.” It is effectively a continuation of the CR through fiscal year 2011 (which goes through the end of next September). It does adjust some funding levels between programs and accounts but maintains overall discretionary spending at fiscal year 2010 levels.

A Q-and-A with Pre-K Now’s Marci Young

December 8, 2010

Next year will mark the end for Pre-K Now, one of the largest groups in the country advocating for universal pre-k programs for 3- and 4-year olds. What does its closure mean for pre-k advocates and for early childhood policymaking in the coming years? Early Ed Watch talked with Marci Young, Pre-K Now’s project director, about the group’s accomplishments and struggles – not  to mention what work is left to be done. Here is a recap of our conversation:

Slight Uptick for State-Funded Pre-K in 2011 Budgets

December 8, 2010

This morning, Pre-K Now released its annual “Votes Count” report, which details states' pre-k funding for the 2011 year.

The news isn’t bad: Pre-K Now reports that total state funding for pre-k increased slightly in FY11, to $5.4 billion from $5.3 billion in 2010. In a year of fiscal cuts, a majority of states managed to maintain or improve funding levels. Further, the report points out that lawmakers from both parties are supporting these investments: the 15 states that increased funding included four in which Republicans control both the executive and legislative branches of government, three in which Democrats control both governments, and eight states in which control is split between parties.

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