New America's Early Ed Update newsletter.

Hello, and welcome to the latest Early Ed Update from New America Ed Central.

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Lisa Guernsey and Laura Bornfreund

Parents Face Barriers in Accessing, Affording Child Care — Two new reports detail how difficult it’s becoming for parents to find and afford early childhood care. Is it time to revisit federal child care policies? Clare McCann says yes…

Identifying and Supporting Young Latino Students’ Academic Assets — The Latino Policy Forum‘s most recent working paper challenges policymakers to think of young latinos – who comprise three-fourths of the nation’s English language learners – as educational and economic resources well worth public investment writes Conor Williams. More…

Study Links Parent’s Reading Practices to Children’s Literacy Skills — Cary Lou writes about a study published in the Journal of Early Childhood Research that shows a connection between children’s home literacy environment and their language skills. More…

Pre-K Bill — Since President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address, early childhood education stakeholders have been eagerly anticipating a bill to back up the President’s expansive Preschool for All initiative. The wait will be over tomorrow when soon-to-retire Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA) release their bill. More from HuffPo. Of course, we can’t talk about a proposed bill without mentioning Congressional gridlock. But maybe there is hope for the pre-K bill.

The New York Times’s Nicholas Kristof suggests pre-k is becoming more of a bipartisan issue, as shown in recent public polls and by the long-standing, universal program in one of the nation’s reddest states: Oklahoma.

The Nation’s Report Card — The ed world was abuzz with last week’s release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores. While D.C. and Tennessee made gains, the rest of the country’s results remained relatively steady. Click here for more from the Hechinger Report and here for analysis from New America’s Anne Hyslop.

Post-Election News — Newly elected mayors Bill de Blasio of New York City and Martin J. Walsh of Boston will be confronted with major education reform issues — and they say they’ll act fast. One campaign priority of Mayor-elect de Blasio was to expand pre-K by raising taxes on higher earners. More on what the changing of the guard might mean from EdWeek.

Philanthropy and Policy — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a major player in K-12 teacher policy. Largely, investments have been made in rethinking teacher evaluation systems through the MET project, though more recently the Foundation has made investments in professional development and support tools for teachers. EdWeek‘s Stephen Sawchuk explores the political obstacles the Foundation faces, the difficulties it encounters when measuring results, and an assortment of other future challenges. (Full disclosure: the New America Foundation’s Education Policy Program is partly funded by the Gates Foundation).

Teacher Effectiveness — A report released by the state of Delaware’s Department of Education suggests that principals aren’t rating teachers tough enough. Only one percent of teachers were classified as ineffective after the first year of Delaware’s statewide teacher evaluation program. What happens when you pay highly effective teachers more to transfer to high need elementary schools? New America’s Melissa Tooley explains the findings from the U.S. Department of Education’s Talent Transfer Initiative. And might EdTPA, a new performance-based teacher licensing test, be a better predictor of prospective teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom? Too early to tell says Stephen Sawchuk at Teacher Beat.

Reading is Fun — Children should be encouraged to read for fun early and often. In The Atlantic, Jeffrey Wilhelm and Michael Smith discuss their recent research, noting “Reading is indeed crucial to success in school and in careers. But we worry that discussions of reading, especially public policy discussions, focus almost exclusively on its utilitarian value. What’s missing is the pleasure readers derive from the reading they do.”

Also Worth Noting — U.S. Department of Education announces new i3 winners. New America’s Clare McCann summarizes an evaluation of a past i3 winner here … According to a new report from Evergreen Education Group, more K-12 students enrolling in online schools or taking online classes … We’ve heard that “grit” and other non-academic skills are important to students’ success in school, but it’s not easy to identify or quantify. Educators across the country are taking up this task. Read more at the Hechinger Report … Finally, did you know that prenatal exercise may have cognitive benefits for newborns? More at EdWeek.