Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The "Real" Bailout Plan of the United States of America: Quality Early Education

Early Stories mentions the Fortune Magazine article revealing President Obama's support for Early Education is directly related to the research and talk that educational achievement=economic progress.

Hmm......We knew that.....

26% of States Are Tied for LAST in Report Measuring "Quality" of Preschool Programs

I hadn't yet been able to take a look at NIEER's State of Preschool 2008 report. However, I did see the NACCRRA the New York Times articles which both recently offered details related to it, including which states the report has placed at the bottom of the barrel.

However, while it's important to see where we may need improvement--it's also important to recognize how far we have come....so in an effort to recognize both--here are a few stats (from NIEER's State of Preschool 2008 report):

  • More than 80 percent of all 4-year-olds attend some kind of preschool program (approxiametly half public and half private)
  • Oklahoma is OK! In Oklahoma nearly 90 percent of the 4-year-olds receive a free public education. This is opposed to the as few as 10 percent which are enrolled in public programs in some other states.
  • Thirty-three of the 38 states with state preschool programs increased enrollment. The 12 states with no state programs still don't (they are: Indiana, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Alaska, and Hawaii).
  • Twelve states improved on NIEER’s Quality Standards Checklist. Only two states fell back.
  • The states at the "top" serving 4 year olds include: Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, Vermont, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, New York, Maryland, and South Carolina. Those at the "top" for serving 3 year olds include: Illinois, Arkansas, Vermont, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
Where do we go from here?
Even the best (and definetly the worst) could still use more state mandated quality control with access to support and education for their teachers, directors and staff.

Additionally, I think we still need to work on how we communicate the importance of early childhood education and the impact a child's development during the early years has on their later years---socially, emotionally and then academically.

We are still climbing the mountain, but at least we've got a good strong, solid start and more support than we've ever had before.

Monday, February 16, 2009

If We Don't Start Offering Support...Someone Else Will! The "Expert" Myth

Gotta go to class this afternoon, but if you ever doubted the importance of providing parent support or nurturing quality parent-school relationships...here's something you need to see.

Research has shown that parents, especially first time parents, reach out to those around them for support and advice regarding raising their child, child development issues, etc. When that support isn't there, they move on to that which is most accessible to them--namely what they see or hear on television or in the media.

This is especially scary when "experts" from television, magazines, often don't carry many credentials....

This is today's scary example: Real Housewives of New York City's Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen--who are writing a parenting book titled, "The Urban Parent: Family Adventures from a Real House in New York City." Don't believe me....read the article here.

Teacher Tchotches (pronounced: Chach-keez)

I'm hoping Teacher Tchotches will be a series I can continue as I spend time blogging...

To begin this series, I have been wanting to highlight this groups products for a while. If you have ever attended a NAEYC conference, you may have seen them in the exhibits. Syracuse Cultural Workers is a "peace and justice publisher and distributor." They offer great books, posters, buttons, clothing, resources. Here are just a few of my favorites:

"Childhood is a journey, not a race" t-shirt

"Children should be seen and heard and believed" bumper sticker

"Celebrate Community Honor Diversity" poster

Next time....favorite toys for the classroom (don't expect me to include bob the builder)

To Be A Great Teacher...You Need To Stay Open to Learn!

A friend and I had a brief conversation regarding USA Today's recent article on the anticipated cuts that will be made by thousands of districts in effort to survive due to the tough economy. She had mentioned to me that it was unfortunate that in many cases non-tenured teachers would be the victims of the cuts. She inferred that it was unfortunate that the quality of the teacher's work may not be considered, or the amount of effort, or how she/he contributed to the school's environment or teams--just the amount of years she/he's been in the district.

Reflecting on her comment, I too wondered about this. We all know excellent teachers who are tenured, long-term teachers, who make great mentors. However, I can also guarantee that most of us also know teachers who might not be able to put forth the effort needed anymore, who might not be willing to try something new or go beyond what they learned in school 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

These are the teachers, which in most cases, are getting paid the most and who are protected by unions the most. Again, I stress in many cases tenured teachers are mentors, role models, and examples for all of us. However, research and interventions change and I'm not sure why even tenured teachers wouldn't be expected to continue professional development in effort to stay fresh and up to date.

In Illinois, teachers with standard or master's level teaching certificates have ten years to complete one of the following:
  • Complete an advanced degree,
  • Meet Illinois criteria for becoming highly qualified in another teaching area,
  • Complete National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification process,
  • Earn eight semester hours of college coursework in an education-related program,
  • Earn a subsequent Illinois certificate or endorsement,
  • Complete four semester hours (three if Master's level) of graduate coursework preapproved for this purpose in either Self-Assessment of Teaching Performance or NBPTS preparation, or
  • Earn CEUs/CPDUs in activities (120 CPDUs for Standard/40 Master).

These options are the same for those with an initial certificate, except that Standard level teachers have 5 years to complete one of these options...Master level teachers have 10 years! Additionally, Master level teachers also have a 2/3 deduction in number of CPDUs or one hour deduction from semester hours of graduate coursework.

My question is: If I'm a tenured teacher, what is my incentive to continue my professional development if I'm already getting a higher rate of pay with no increase in level of responsibility?

Here's an even BIGGER question: As a preschool teacher, unless you work in a public school system or live in a state where lead teachers have to have a certificate, individuals need to attend professional development sessions but may never be offered pay increases and if there are increases, they are minimal (child care, some state programs, private programs, etc.). What incentives does this create for teachers to provide quality care and education to her students? to stay at her center?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Making It Work" In This Economy

I recently wrote an article for a publication called, Positively Naperville and it described how recent studies have shown how financial stress effects all members of a family.

Here is my article, "Decreasing Stress by Increasing Play!"

When I wrote this, I reflected on how the economy's downturn has effected my own family. Bill was laid off twice last year, following my own position being eliminated the year before. We took it one day at a time, and learned that although it was tough we'd "make it work." (In fact, everytime something would come up that we were not sure how we'd make it through we'd say, "make it work" ala Tim Gunn). We found fun in shopping at the discount grocery, we'd take nature walks instead of going to the movies, etc. It took our minds off the stress we were dealing with and worked out--we were lucky enough to find other jobs in our field...

As of this week, I'm in the same position again. Unfortunately, our Museum's funding is not there and they were forced to make some cuts. Although funded by grants, they had to eliminate positions and reallocated funds to save itself from having to make more drastic cuts. They were gracious about it and I know it was a hard decision to make albeit without warning. Did it make it easier to understand? Yes. Did I know what I was going to do? No.

So, yet again, I'm unemployed. I keep reminding myself of Bill and I's mantra ("make it work"). So here are my plans to "make it work" and keep myself playfully optimistic...

  • Take this opportunity to write more. I've missed writing about what I want to write and not what others want me to. I miss writing and giving my own personal opinions without any agenda.
  • Investigate schools and study for the GRE. I'm going to get my Ph.D (although I'm not sure when) and this is a great opportunity for me to research programs and study for the dreaded GRE.
  • Get some wedding details out of the way. While I might not be able to nail down much since we are on a smaller budget, I can still take time to plan songs to include on our list, fix our registry details, and do things I was procrastinating before.
  • Be thankful. I'm thankful for a supportive family, wonderful friends and past co-workers, and for my health. While I'm not going to lie, it's tough...it could be a lot worse.
How do you "make it work" through the tough times? Anyone have anything ideas for fun on the cheap or free side of life?

FYI: My resume can be seen here http://www.box.net/shared/d7r4x59npx

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Link to Dr. Katz's presentation 1/22/09

Here's the link to Dr. Katz's presentation (audio from site and podcast versions) for DCM on 1/22/09. I heard this presentation was better than the one she made at CMAEYC.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

An Incredible EC Leader-Dr. Lilian Katz

I will be posting soon the link to an audio file from last Thursday's presentation by Lilian Katz, Ph.D. I was able to start my day with being introduced to her and she was a fabulous speaker. In the next couple of weeks, I'll share some of her thoughts from the presentation. If you aren't familiar with her, she co-authored Young Investigators with Judy Harris Helm. She is an international leader in the EC field and FYI will be hosting a summer institute at Univ. of IL. I will post this info asap as well.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year, New Resolution: Expanding EC Smart - On Twitter

So, I'm not sure how I feel about the new trend of media--being able to access anyone anytime with tools like Twitter and Facebook mobile. (Do you really want to get a hold of me any time of the day?) Therefore, I can't promise I will always be there 24/7 to answer any question.

However, I do love the opportunity to create more relationships with others who are or want to become EC Smart!

In that case....you can now "tweet" me at ecsmart. Stop by and say hello when you get the chance.