Volume 6, Issue 20

October 29, 2007

Hot Topics

Parents of young children have more than one drug-resistant bacterium to worry about. While most of the recent press coverage has focused on the deadly strain of Staphylococcus that is immune to all known antibiotics, there is another that primarily affects children. Dr. Michael Pichichero at the University of Rochester says a strain of Streptococcus is showing up in ear infections in Rochester children and is highly resistant to all antibiotics approved for use in children. He advises doctors that if an ear infection doesn't respond after two back-to-back courses of treatments with antibiotics, they should tap the ear and send fluid samples to a center equipped to detect resistant strains of bacteria. Pichichero tapped the ears of 212 children with ear infections and found nine cases of the resistant strain. One girl suffered a hearing loss in both ears as a result of the bug.
According to The New York Times, 28,000 child care providers will join New York City's teachers' union after more than 8,000 of them voted to unionize. The United Federation of Teachers won the right to unionize the child care workers who are home-based and often poorly paid. The drive to unionize gathered steam after Governor Elliot Spitzer signed an executive order granting the home-based providers the right to unionize. They were previously prevented from unionizing because they were considered independent contractors. Since they care for children of low-income workers whose child care is subsidized, the governor considered them "quasi-employees." According to the union, it was the largest successful unionization campaign in the city since 1960. Ninety-six child care workers voted against unionizing.
Writing in Politico, Richard Whitmire, president of the Education Writers Association suggests that while the No Child Left Behind Act has not been a hot issue in the '08 presidential campaigns, preschool education is heating up as education's big election year issue. Whitmire, an editorialist at USA Today, casts the issue in terms of gender & how important pre-K will be to voting moms as opposed to voting dads and how the parties are positioned to get the pre-K vote. He advises voters to pin down candidates as to what precisely they mean by preschool education, suggesting some proposals could fall short on quality.
The way we teach science fails to recognize that "children are capable of abstract reasoning and theory building from very early ages" writes Rutgers University science education professor Richard A. Duschl in a compelling article in this month's issue of Principal, a magazine published by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Duschl, who chairs the Committee on Science Learning, K-8 at the National Research Council (NRC), wrote the article with two colleagues at NRC. They document other shortcomings in current practice, including a failure to enable children to go through "learning progressions" that function across modules, units and years of instruction. They say current methods are too disconnected and frequently separate teaching of concepts from the teaching of the processes, skills and practices common to science. Among their recommendations is a major revision of standards, curricula and assessments to reflect what we now know about children's thinking.
The October issue of Educational Leadership features a Q and A interview with Yale University professor, Head Start co-founder and NIEER Scientific Advisory Board member Edward Zigler. In it, Zigler provides his perspective on scholarship in early childhood education, Head Start's genesis and performance to date, what he thinks about the preschool for all movement and the role of public schools in children's lives.

NIEER Activities

Stephanie Curenton, assistant research professor at NIEER, has thrown her hat into the ring and is a candidate for the governing board of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Dr. Curenton studies the development of low-income and minority children within various contexts, such as parent-child interactions, early childhood education programs, and related state and federal policies. Visit the NIEER web site to read more.

Calendar

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

October 26, 2007
Charlotte Observer
This state boasts two nationally recognized programs, "Smart Start" and "More at Four," which expand access to early childhood education. But there is still much to be done to ensure that these two programs receive the funding necessary so that all eligible children in this state are able to participate in high-quality early education programs.
October 25, 2007
The Boston Globe
How do you build a better preschool? To find out, Massachusetts has given $4.6 million in grants to programs in 62 cities and towns. The early results of this funding from the Department of Early Education and Care show that preschool should meet working families' needs and advance teachers' educations.
October 23, 2007
U.Va. News
Forty-three percent of Virginia's 4-year-olds were not enrolled in preschool in 2005, according to U.Va.'s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. Children from families below the poverty level had the lowest rate of pre-school enrollment.
October 23, 2007
The Billings Gazette, Billings, MT
The children are 3 to 6 years old and are assisted in making the transition from preschool to kindergarten at Shepherd. The kindergarten teachers and students know the preschoolers because they attend class in the same building, and the preschool school kids are used to being in the classroom by the time they get to kindergarten.
October 23, 2007
New York Daily News
The State Board of Regents gave a boost to working parents Monday by urging more money for full-day prekindergarten programs. Although parents celebrated earlier this year when lawmakers okayed a statewide expansion in schooling for 4-year-olds, the money was limited to half-day programs that last 2 1/2 hours.
October 20, 2007
The Daily Press, Newport News, VA
The latest research data has proven that more than 85 percent of a child's brain network is wired in the first five years of life. Environmental and health factors, combined with early learning experiences, determine their lifelong ability to learn, to relate to others, to be productive in the workplace and to be fully engaged citizens.
October 19, 2007
The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN
A national satellite conference on pre-kindergarten Wednesday was an encouraging view of the success early childhood education efforts are enjoying around the country. Indiana earned no mention among the success stories, nor was any of its elected leaders featured as pre-K champions.
October 19, 2007
KATC3, Lafayette, LA
Louisiana's public prekindergartens have lasting results: the first children who had a full year in the program did significantly better than other third-graders on standardized tests, an expert says. "In my opinion, Louisiana has consistently implemented the highest quality pre-K in the history of the United States," Craig Ramey, a Georgetown University professor who has studied the program since it began in January 2002, told the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday.
October 19, 2007
The Record, Bergen County, NJ
New Jersey's substantial investment in early childhood education through the Abbott preschool program is producing results. The National Institute for Early Education Research recently reported that the learning gains children made in preschool continued into elementary school.
October 17, 2007
St. Charles Republican, St. Charles, IL
Mi casa es verde. Anyone needing help translating that sentence can ask the preschoolers at Chesterbrook Academy in St. Charles, 600 Courtyard Drive. The school's 110 2-year-old through kindergarten students are the first round of preschoolers learning Spanish as part of a new program rolled out by the academy this fall.
October 17, 2007
Richmond.com
Children with disabilities often fall behind academically due to a lack of sufficient special education opportunities. Richmond Public Schools has teamed up with the Faison School for Autism to create a free preschool classroom specifically designed to meet the unique needs of autistic children.

Resources

This paper from the Center for Early Literacy Learning (CELL) presents the results from a national survey of preschool special education practitioners, designed to ascertain the practitioners' confidence and competence in planning and implementing early literacy learning practices with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with disabilities or delays.
This chart from the Public Policy Forum summarizes the findings of more than 20 preschool education studies, including information on the cognitive, behavioral, social, educational, and cost-benefit outcomes from each.