Volume 5, Issue 2

February 1, 2006

Hot Topics

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford made no mention of expanding state-funded preschool education in his state of the state address even though a December court decision ordered the state to expand preschool programs. The governor did say he believes in early childhood education and suggested that the Legislature "use the private sector's capacity" in developing any new programs. To some, that sounds like vouchers. Whatever the architecture of the program ends up being, the Legislature has already initiated a plan for inventorying and evaluating programs currently available. The state Education Department has provided an estimated cost of $288 million in additional funds for a program that would serve the state's 31,000 4-year-olds who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. That averages out to $10,000 per child and includes family literacy, parenting and other services.
Researchers studying children who have the 5-HTT gene that correlates with shy behavior say environment has a lot to do with whether children actually turn out to be shy. University of Maryland researcher Nathan Fox led a study that tested children for the gene as toddlers and evaluated their behavior at age 7. Children with the gene who were placed in environments with lots of interaction with other kids overcame their natural propensity toward shyness. Only children with a certain form of the gene who stayed home and didn't attend day care or preschool turned out to be shy.
Children who experienced a rewarding friendship before a sibling was born are likely to have a better relationship with their new brother or sister, says University of Illinois research psychologist Laurie Kramer. She led a 13-year study following 28 pairs of siblings. Researchers assessed the quality of the firstborn's relationship with his mother during the last trimester of the mother's pregnancy as well as the quality of the child's relationship with a best friend. Although the mother-child bond was important for the future sibling relationship, the child's relationship with a best friend was a stronger predictor of future sibling harmony. The study appeared in the December Journal of Family Psychology.
For responders charged with providing displaced children with preschool services, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita showed how hard getting an accurate picture of the problem and potential responses can be. A helpful tool came by way of a new mapping capability developed by the University of Missouri and Mississippi State University called the Early Childhood Atlas. Though it wasn't completed when the disasters struck, it was sufficiently far along to provide responders with preschool-specific maps and overlays. When data such as lists of licensed centers and classroom capacities are fed into the system, it provides a geographic overview and performs spatial analyses so planners can see problems and craft responses. The system enables planners to correlate preschool data with meteorological data such as predicted wind speed as hurricanes approach to predict patterns of displacement and run response scenarios in advance of landfall. Mapping systems are gaining popularity in disaster planning circles.

New on nieer.org

This new working paper presents the findings from a randomized trial of the effects of dual language or two-way immersion and monolingual English immersion preschool programs on children's learning. Two-way and Monolingual English Immersion in Preschool Education: An Experimental Comparison is available on the NIEER web site.

Preschool Assessment: A Guide to Developing a Balanced Approach, the latest in the Preschool Policy Facts series is now available from NIEER. You can view the fact sheet on the NIEER web site. For printed copies, please contact info@nieer.org.

Calendar

February 21, 2006 - February 25, 2006
Washington, DC – This conference will provide participants with the latest policy, research and best practices from the nation’s leading experts.
February 26, 2006 - March 1, 2006
Jacksonville, FL – This annual conference features a workshop focusing on early childhood education for children with learning disabilities.
March 9, 2006 - March 10, 2006
Arnhem, the Netherlands – Attendees will learn about worldwide developments and trends in early childhood education at this conference.
March 31, 2006 - March 31, 2006
Somerset, NJ - This year's Conference on Reading and Writing presented by the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education includes many workshops geared toward the preschool educator.

Early Education News Roundup

January 30, 2006
The Boston Globe
The bill is intended to improve student performance in school and prepare students for kindergarten, supporters said.
January 29, 2006
The News Journal, Wilmington, DE
High-quality early education remains difficult to identify and difficult to afford for the middle class.
January 26, 2006
Mohave Daily News, Bullhead City, AZ
Attending quality preschool programs will allow children to hit the ground running.
January 25, 2006
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA
Sustaining quality public pre-K programs in Louisiana will take long-term, bipartisan commitment.
January 19, 2006
The Record, Bergen County, NJ
Economists and business leaders are realizing the long-term benefits, not just for the children, but also for the nation's future productivity and our ability to compete in the global market.
January 19, 2006
The Johnson County Sun, Overland Park, KS
The Kansas Department of Education's preliminary report suggests 52.6 percent of children are not ready to learn upon entering kindergarten.
January 17, 2006
The Boston Globe
The National Institute for Early Education Research concluded that Head Start does produce long-term educational benefits, but that it could do more if it were better funded and set higher standards.
January 12, 2006
The Times-News, Twin Falls, ID
A northern Idaho lawmaker is trying again this year to pass a bill that would allow the use of public money for preschool.
January 11, 2006
The New York Times
British efforts for implementing preschool programs have surpassed anything the United States has planned.
January 10, 2006
The Seattle Times
The state of Washington is leaving thousands of preschoolers behind, says the League of Education Voters Foundation.
January 10, 2006
The Casper Star-Tribune, Casper, WY
Supporters say an effort to increase the quality of child care in Wyoming would not only be good for kids, it would be good for business and would reduce crime.

Resources

While state-funded preschool programs are expanding, the quality of these programs is not increasing. This research brief from the American Education Research Association (AERA) provides policymakers with recommendations for ensuring state-funded programs are of high quality.
This new web site from McREL examines issues surrounding PreK-12 standards, answers common questions through research and case studies, and provides strategies and resources for aligning curriculum and instruction with standards.
This report from ZERO TO THREE and the National Conference of State Legislatures outlines actions state policymakers can take to support social-emotional development in young children from birth to age 5.