Dear Friends:
 
Welcome to the second issue of EdSource's monthly online newsletter on early learning.

We have received an enthusiastic response to our first issue, a reflection of the high interest in early education in California and nationally. The debate on whether to have universal preschool for 4-year-olds continues to generate heated discussion -- with little actual progress so far. More details below. 

In this issue, we also take a closer look a challenge facing thousands of teachers across the state -- implementation of Common Core standards in math during the early years -- including an audio report first aired on KQED's The California Report from a Shasta County 3rd grade classroom. 
 
Please be sure to sign up to receive this monthly online addition to EdSource's publications!
 
Best regards,

 


Louis Freedberg
Executive Director

Lillian Mongeau
Early Education Reporter


Subscribe                                                                                       February 2014 Issue 2
Teaching two plus two, the Common Core way
Common Core brings significant changes to elementary math
Juh'Ziyah Atchinson helps Aubrey Blancas, both 5, create a row of dominoes so they can practice counting during math time at Robinson Elementary in Fresno.
Credit: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource

The new Common Core State Standards, adopted in California and 44 other states, have ushered in a whole new set of academic standards for math, with significant changes in the early grades.  

 

Kindergartners will now be expected to count to 100 by the end of the year, for instance, rather than 30. But the changes go much further than just counting. Students will have to demonstrate a deeper understanding of math concepts, which means teachers will have to change how they teach those concepts too.

 

Read the full story in EdSource Today. 

Listen to EdSource report on early math on KQED
A 3rd grade student at Black Butte Elementary School in Shingletown examines her handiwork after a hands-on geometry lesson.
Credit: EdSource
Third grader Madison Lasher and her classmates at Black Butte Elementary School in Shingletown, in Shasta County, are struggling with a lesson meant to teach them about three-dimensional shapes. 
 
They're building skeleton figures of geometric shapes with brightly colored straws and bits of fuzzy pipe cleaner. Models of what they're going for dangle in the morning light that filters through a big plate glass window at the far end of the classroom. 

"I have no clue how to do this," Madison said.

Today's lesson is a new one for Madison's teacher, Mark McKinley, but he's giving it a trial run after hearing the idea at a session on how to teach Common Core math run by the Shasta County Office of Education. 

 

For the full story, listen to EdSource's story on KQED's The California Report.   

National debate on universal preschool continues...
Publicly funded preschool 'top priority' for U.S. Dept. of Ed
Libby Doggett is the Deputy Asst. Secretary for Early Learning at the U.S. Department of Education.
Credit: EdSource
Expanding publicly-funded care for children under 5 is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Education, said Libby Doggett, the deputy assistant secretary for policy and early learning.

Doggett, a Texas native, was appointed to the position in August 2013 to replace Jacqueline Jones, the first person to hold the post created by President Barack Obama in November 2011.

She sat down with EdSource at an Education Writers Association conference on early education in New Orleans. 
Value of early education questioned at House hearing
House Republicans questioned the need for new early education programs and asked if the research showing the benefits of preschool has been oversold at a Workforce and Education Committee hearing on early childhood programs.

Read the full story about the House hearing in EdSource Today.
Early childhood programs called inadequate at Senate hearing

Federal early-childhood education programs aren't reaching enough children in need of their services and must be expanded, argued U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, at a Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on early education.  

 

 Read the full story about the Senate hearing in Education Week.
Early Education News Briefs
Despite benefits of full-day preschool, most Calif. programs half-day
Lack of online child care records leave Calif. parents in dark
Preschool remains hot state policy topic
Of the 135,000 children served by California's subsidized preschool program for low-income families, 95,000 attend half-day programs. It makes more financial sense for providers to cycle two classes of kids through two separate half-day programs than offer a full-day program to half as many kids - even though research shows full-day programs have more impact. 

California doesn't make it easy for parents to find out what's going on at child care centers. The state keeps a vast archive of inspection and complaint reports against nearly 48,000 state-licensed programs. But for the most part, these records are difficult to access for busy parents of the 1.1 million children who attend these programs.

 

 

 

Read the full Center for Investigative Reporting story.
Early education -- a continuing element of President Barack Obama's education agenda -- appears to be maintaining legislative momentum at the state level this year, where lawmakers around the country will deal with healthier budgets. California, Hawaii and Idaho, among others, have recently introduced new preschool legislation.



Read the full story on Education Week.

Voices from the field
Compton school president argues for more early education 
Micah Ali is the president of the Compton Unified school board. 

Micah Ali, president of the Board of Education of the Compton Unified School District, believes that expanding preschool should be a top priority in his district. "We need universal pre-kindergarten to get kids on par with their peers, rather than have them show up for their first day of school already behind," Ali argues in an EdSource commentary.

 

He noted that "when the state asked school districts to introduce at least one transitional kindergarten class last year, Compton added the new grade to every elementary school for a total of 32 classes districtwide.... That's why I support the expansion of transitional kindergarten at the heart of the proposed Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2014 and strongly encourage Gov. Jerry Brown to fund it."

 

Read the full commentary in EdSource Today. 

Fuller: Pre-K funds should be targeted at poorest children 
Bruce Fuller 

In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Bruce Fuller, a professor of education at UC Berkeley, and co-director of Policy Analysis for California Education, attacks are what he calls are several "myths" about universal preschool.

 

"An unbounded entitlement (to preschool) would not reduce children's early gaps in learning. It could even exacerbate disparities. The issue is how, not whether, to invest more in preschool, mindfully preventing learning disparities before they emerge.

 

"But as the pre-K bandwagon gains steam, it's careering into hazardous territory.  

 

"Policymakers must take stock of evidence that has emerged over the past decade and get beyond the hyperbolic mythology stirred by well-meaning preschool advocates."

 

Read Fuller's commentary in The Washington Post. 

Sneak Peek
Each month we share a photo to give you a sneak peek into upcoming EdSource Today reports. We're not done with math yet! Next month we will explore how California teachers are changing their lessons to effectively teach Common Core math, and how they're getting supported to do that. In the photo below teacher Mark McKinley helps 3rd grade student Madison Lasher create a pentagonal prism during a hands-on geometry lesson.


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