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Lisa Guernsey and Laura Bornfreund

Landmark Federal-State Pre-K Partnership Bills Emphasize Access, Quality

As we announced last week, House and Senate lawmakers gave legislative form to President Obama’s vision of pre-K education for needy children with the Strong Start for America’s Children Act. Clare McCann and Laura Bornfreund analyze the proposal and its chance of becoming law.

New Pre-K Bill Contains Revolutionary Data Requirements

Much of the attention given to the pre-K bill has ignored a section of it that contains new reporting requirements. Alex Holt explains why the new requirements would be a huge step forward in how we talk about and understand pre-K in this country.

Teacher Prep Says Profession Holding Themselves Accountable – But Are They?

Many new teachers enter the profession underprepared to be successful in the classroom. Melissa Tooley writes about the viability of teacher performance assessments.

This Week in Early Ed News

Federal Pre-K Legislation — EdWeek’s Alyson Klein answers questions about the newly introduced House and Senate pre-K bills and explains similarities (and differences) to President Obama’s proposal from earlier this year. How could statewide universal pre-k programs get a boost if Congress passes pre-K legislation? The body of research that supports investments in early childhood continues to grow: A fact sheet released by the Center for Law and Social Policy shows the chasm that exists state-by-state and within states in financial support for early care and education for impoverished groups.

Local Pre-K Referendum — An election in Memphis on Thursday will determine the fate of a controversial tax referendum. If passed, the citywide sales tax will increase by half a cent and revenue will be used to fund pre-K education programs.

Waiver Wire — Another day, another waiver update. Michele McNeil from Education Week’s Politics K-12 reports that just two and a half months after asking states to do more for NCLB flexibility, the U.S. Department of Education has “backed away” from a few of its waiver requirements. From Twitter, here is our own Anne Hyslop‘s take on what the new ED guidance means: “Dear @usedgov: Our waiver is awesome & we’re trying really hard. We promise.” = new state #NCLB waiver renewal guidelines, more or less.

Baltimore — The Baltimore Sun reports that out-of-school suspensions for three- and four-year-olds has nearly doubled in Baltimore. The controversial zero-tolerance policy, which is the same for high schoolers as it is for toddlers, is being more thoroughly examined by school district officials. Suspending young children, even those in second or third grade, does more harm than good. As New America’s Laura Bornfreund wrote last year, discipline should be developmentally appropriate and used as a teaching tool.

Common Core — According to state House Speaker Rutherford, Common Core standards will not be repealed in Florida. Alabama’s state school board voted to scale back its commitments to implementing a Common Core friendly statewide curriculum.

Testing and Young Children — Top New York education officials, teacher unions, and government reform groups are calling for a ban on standardized testing in the early grades. Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor of education and author, echoed the groups’ requests in a Washington Post story, noting, “What is being required of young children is unreasonable, inappropriate and developmentally unsound.”

Parent-Trigger Law — A pre-K program shut down due to budget cuts will re-open its doors in December. Julie Blair at Education Week’s Early Years explains that this is the first group of parents to petition the state of California to reverse budget cut decisions under what is known as the Parent-trigger law.

Teacher EffectivenessNew America Policy Analyst Laura Bornfreund opines in the Orlando Sentinel that while we’ve made progress with teacher evaluations, students and teachers deserve a better system. In related news, The Atlantic reports on other ways to improve the teaching profession, rethinking teacher roles and providing opportunities for them to stay in the classroom and take on leadership roles.

Student Data and Privacy — inBloom, a controversial student data gathering program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has lost two of its three clients. Immediately after Colorado’s Jefferson County school district lost its reform-minded members in the November 5 election, it voted to end its relationship with inBloom. New York, one of the two remaining partners, is being sued by a group of New York City public school parents to follow the lead of Jeffco and pull out of inBloom.

Also Worth Noting — After four years as Director of the Office of Head Start, Yvette Sanchez Fuentes is stepping down … An incredible 20 million books will soon be at our fingertips after a judge tossed out a suit against a Google digital library … As Common Core typing requirements become solidified and cursive is written out, advocates fight for it to be added back into curriculum … The Southern Poverty Law Center has registered a complaint against child care centers in Florida that denied service to kids with diabetes, the Sun Sentinel reportsThe Santa Fe New Mexican editorializes that statewide early literacy programs focus should be collaborative and inclusive unlike Governor Martinez’s current proposal.