Early Years

November 08, 2000 2 min read

Preschool Powwow: More than 20,000 professionals in early-childhood education will gather in Atlanta this week for their annual meeting.

The child-care and preschool proposals of whoever wins Tuesday’s presidential election will likely generate plenty of discussion among members of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

During the campaign, Mark R. Ginsberg, the executive director of the Washington-based organization, called on the two leading candidates to make improving early-childhood programs a high priority.

But other policy issues will also be addressed at this year’s meeting, due to run Nov. 8-11.

Kathy R. Thornburg, a professor of child development at the University of Missouri-Columbia and the NAEYC’s new president, will lead a panel discussion on violence in American society and talk about the prevention and intervention programs that have been found to reduce violence.

In another session, leading experts in early-childhood education will compare U.S. preschool and child-care policies with those in other countries.

Ready for School? The number of preschool children being served with federal Title I aid is increasing, but little is known about whether the program is helping prepare those children for kindergarten, according to a report from the U.S. General Accounting Office.

Last school year, an estimated 17 percent of districts that receive Title I funds, which go to schools that serve low-income students, spent more than $400 million on preschool services for some 313,000 preschoolers.

Growth in the number of preschoolers being served with the federal money began in 1994 after the last reauthorization of the program. Changes in federal law allowed more of the money to be used for whole-school reform efforts instead of just for specific children, the report by the congressional watchdog agency notes.

The GAO cautions, however, that “because a preschool program may use Title I as part of multiple funding sources, it may be difficult to determine what part of a program’s effect on school readiness can be attributed to Title I.”

Because of research funding recently approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Department of Education now has the chance to study the effects of Title I on preschoolers’ language development, reading readiness, and mathematical concepts, the report says.

The authors recommend comparing children served by Title I preschools with children who are not.

—Linda Jacobson

A version of this article appeared in the November 08, 2000 edition of Education Week