Volume 6, Issue 17

September 14, 2007

Hot Topics

The Brattleboro Reformer reports that Vermont has opened the first offices of Building Bright Futures, the early childhood information clearinghouse the state modeled after the system developed in North Carolina. With offices in 12 regions around the state, the agency is in the process of developing a structure that eliminates duplication of services, enables parents to navigate the early childhood system more easily and look at the needs of children in the state in a more unified way.
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine signed into law a number of measures aimed at addressing the high rate of autism in the state. Teachers will be trained to detect the disorder and physicians required to screen for it. Also include in the package are a panel to study issues like housing and job placement, funds for new research and establishment of an autism registry. According to the Centers for Disease Control, New Jersey has the highest rate of autism in the nation.
Certifying early childhood programs according to how well children who attended them perform in kindergarten has caught on in Texas and Florida. As Linda Jacobson reports in the September 12 issue of Education Week, the programs are not without their critics — among them Samuel J. Meisels at Erikson Institute who says they're based on naïve assumptions. Read the article at http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2007/09/12/03texas.h27.html?tmp=1504560859.
A new paper from Kimber Bogard, Fasaha Traylor and Ruby Takanishi at the Foundation for Child Development questions why some research shows little or no consistent relationship between teacher education and pre-K children's outcomes and points to reasons why that may be so. Among its points: It takes more to determine the impact of teacher education on children's progress than just comparing degrees with child outcomes. The paper, which also contains the authors' recommendations, is available at http://www.fcd-us.org/usr_doc/ECRQ_Teacher_Prep_&_Child_Outcomes.pdf.
Young children who watch television more than two hours a day are more likely to have attention problems as adolescents, says Erik Landhuis, a New Zealand researcher at the Dundedin School of Medicine who led a study of more than 1,000 boys and girls born in 1972 and 1973. "The two-hour point is very clear in our data and consistent with what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends," he said. Children who watch more than 3 hours a day are at even greater risk, he said.
Combining her experience as the mother of a preschooler with her skills as a journalist, Newsweek's Lorraine Ali examines the trend toward diagnosing children who behave differently as suffering from one of the increasingly complex list of developmental disorders. Ali's essay in the Sept. 17 issue of the magazine walks readers through the sometimes excruciating process parents and educators encounter while trying to figure out if there's really something wrong with some children. Read the article at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20657188/site/newsweek/.

Calendar

October 21, 2007 - October 23, 2007
Chicago, IL - The theme for this year's conference is "The Journey Continues: Giving Our Children a Chance."
October 28, 2007 - October 30, 2007
San Diego, CA - Join participants from across the country at the National Even Start Association's 13th annual conference.
November 7, 2007 - November 10, 2007
Chicago, IL - This conference provides participants with a variety of sessions focusing on practical experience and applied research.

Early Education News Roundup

September 13, 2007
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Nationally, the trend is toward states subsidizing early education to all families — regardless of economic standing — a concept called "universal pre-kindergarten." Advocates of early education say Missouri's failure to embrace universal pre-kindergarten puts the state's low-income students at a further disadvantage before they even enter kindergarten.
September 10, 2007
The Tennessean
Midstate schools are finding ways to house a mushrooming state pre-kindergarten program, even though it's not always easy. The issue of space — enough room to set up learning centers and allow as many as 20 children to play — is a significant one because it affects the quality of pre-K programs.
September 10, 2007
The Cincinnati Post
[Universal preschool is] the long-term goal of a coalition of Kentucky education and social service groups, who will attempt to advance their cause in the coming months. The short-term goal is to get more low-income kids into publicly funded programs by raising the income limit for pre-K eligibility to 200 percent of the poverty level.
September 5, 2007
The Denver Post
In just the past few months, governors and lawmakers from more than a dozen states have sealed deals to spend far more public money on childhood education.
September 4, 2007
Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, PA
The state is proposing a major change in the teacher certification system, switching from the current two-tier model – one license for kindergarten through sixth grades and another for seventh through 12th – to a three-tier model, with one certification for pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, one for fourth through eighth and one more for the rest.
August 28, 2007
New York Daily News
Despite a welcome injection of new funds into the city's prekindergarten program, providers and parents are still bumping into funding roadblocks and complicated bureaucracy with only a week before classes start. And despite efforts by Gov. Spitzer, Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council and child-care advocates, state funds are still limited to half-day programs, meaning children only get 2 1/2 hours of instruction.
August 28, 2007
St. Petersburg Times
Pati Kelly and Erin Galley, the two teachers charged with getting the roomful of 4- and 5-year-olds ready for kindergarten, left Campbell Park Elementary in St. Petersburg exhausted that late May afternoon. They wondered: Will we be able to teach these kids the letters of the alphabet, get them to keep their hands out of each other's food, and persuade them to play nice on the playground in 10 short weeks?
August 27, 2007
The Washington Post
Economists like to think about investment in terms of rate of return, and there is reason to think that the rate of return on early childhood investment could be particularly high. Like any investment in human capital, some of the return accrues directly to the individual in increased lifetime earning ability. But a substantial share of the return -- perhaps as much as three-quarters of the total -- is a broader, social benefit coming from such sources as reduced costs of remediation and other special services in primary and secondary school, as well as from the reduced incidence of the array of social problems often associated with low educational achievement.