Early Childhood

Reporter’s Notebook

December 04, 2002 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

States Told to Enact Pre-K Guidelines

Requiring states to draw up learning guidelines for all young children—not just those in prekindergarten or Head Start—is part of President Bush’s early education and literacy initiative, federal officials told members of the National Association for the Education of Young Children gathered here Nov. 20- 23 for their annual conference.

While local programs, such as child-care centers and preschools, will not be under a mandate to adopt the guidelines, states will be required to have them in place, said Shannon Christian, the associate commissioner of the Child Care Bureau, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Many states already have guidelines, but may need to expand them to apply to other settings,” Ms. Christian said. Additional directions on just what the federal government is looking for should be available this month, she added.

She spoke during a session in which three Bush administration officials elaborated on the president’s initiatives and responded to concerns that many in the early-childhood community are expressing. This is the second year that the conference has featured such appearances by administration officials.

The goal of writing such guidelines or standards, Ms. Christian said, is to improve young children’s early-literacy skills “in all of the places where they spend their day,” whether they are cared for in formal settings or by a relative.

She added, however, that “we’re not talking about drill and kill” exercises for young children, and that a variety of training opportunities will be available for child-care providers.

Susan B. Neuman, the U.S. Department of Education’s assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, praised those who work in early-childhood education for the strides they have made over the past 30 years, such as focusing on the social as well as the academic needs of children, involving parents, and recognizing children’s individual differences.

But she also challenged them to put more energy toward defining what young children should know and be able to do, and toward developing a coherent curriculum that doesn’t fall back on familiar but disconnected themes, such as autumn or Thanksgiving.

Warning that she might anger some members of the audience, Ms. Neuman also urged them to expand their use of “direct instruction” methods in the classroom, saying that following the child’s lead “is not the only way to teach.”

Kathy Thornburg, the immediate past president of the NAEYC, responded that members of the early-childhood field are no longer offended by the term “direct instruction"—which refers to teachers leading instruction rather than children choosing what they will work on—and that most do understand how to balance different methods of teaching.

Some conference participants, who believe the Bush administration has not put enough money into early-childhood education, were critical of Ms. Neuman’s response after she was asked how more money could be found in the federal budget for President Bush’s early-childhood initiatives.

Ms. Neuman said that under the current administration, there had been more significant increases per year in education spending than there were during the Clinton administration. She added that states are not fully taking advantage of the freedom they have under the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001 to transfer money to early-childhood-education efforts.

Windy M. Hill, the associate commissioner of the Head Start Bureau, followed up by saying that her agency must first “make sure we are using the dollars we have wisely.”

In addition to talk about budget issues, many conference-goers were asking whether Mr. Bush still wants to move the Head Start preschool program for poor children from the Health and Human Services Department to the Education Department.

Ms. Hill said she had no news to report on that issue.

“Until the president shares his plan with the nation, I have no plan to share with you,” she said, adding that Mr. Bush would probably discuss the matter when he gives his State of the Union Address in January.

—Linda Jacobson

A version of this article appeared in the December 04, 2002 edition of Education Week as Reporter’s Notebook

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Your Questions on the Science of Reading, Answered
Dive into the Science of Reading with K-12 leaders. Discover strategies, policy insights, and more in our webinar.
Content provided by Otus
Mathematics Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Breaking the Cycle: How Districts are Turning around Dismal Math Scores
Math myth: Students just aren't good at it? Join us & learn how districts are boosting math scores.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Early Childhood Preschool Studies Show Lagging Results. Why?
Researchers try to figure out why modern preschool programs are less effective than the landmark projects in the 1960s and 70s.
7 min read
Black female teacher and group of kids coloring during art class at preschool.
iStock / Getty Images Plus
Early Childhood What the Research Says A New Study Shows How Schools Can Maximize Full-Day Pre-K's Benefits
Researchers said principals played a key role in students' academic success through 3rd grade.
6 min read
Teacher Honi Allen, right, supervises as children test how far they can jump at the St. John's Preschool in American Falls, Idaho, on Sept. 28, 2023.
Teacher Honi Allen, right, supervises as children test how far they can jump at the St. John's Preschool in American Falls, Idaho, on Sept. 28, 2023.
Kyle Green/AP
Early Childhood What's Behind the Gaps in Early Intervention Services—And What It Means for K-12 Schools
The GAO says better data could help remove barriers to accessing early intervention services.
3 min read
Close crop of the back of a pre-school girl's head showing her playing with foam puzzle pieces of shapes and numbers.
iStock/Getty
Early Childhood What the Research Says 6 Challenges for Early Educators as Preschool Growth Halts
School enrollment for the nation’s youngest learners has nosedived—and could cause long-term problems.
4 min read
Close crop of the back of a pre-school girl's head showing her playing with foam puzzle pieces of shapes and numbers.
iStock/Getty