Volume 7, Issue 5

March 14, 2008

Hot Topics

Children aged 2 to 5 who were subjected to an intervention at home and at child care centers in Miami changed the way they eat, say researchers at the Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami. Children in the study's intervention group received a six-month obesity prevention program composed of menu modifications and education. Water was the primary beverage for the children and fruits and vegetables were the primary snacks. Teachers learned how to incorporate lessons in the classroom about nutrition and physical activity. Monthly parent dinners and a newsletter educated parents about food labels, portion sizes and the food guide pyramid.



The percentage of normal weight children in the intervention group increased from just over 68 percent to 73 percent and the percentage at risk of overweight decreased from 16 percent to 12 percent. Chip consumption for this group decreased from daily to zero and cookie consumption decreased 50 percent. The study was conducted in ethnically diverse child care centers by Ruby Natale, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami, and colleagues. It was funded by The Children's Trust. Read the article in Medical News Today.
Paths to QUALITY, a voluntary child care rating system developed in Fort Wayne, Indiana nine years ago, is going statewide this year. The system rates licensed child care centers, licensed child care homes, and ministries registered for child care on a scale of one to four. When providers reach level four, they qualify for national accreditation. Indiana's Bureau of Child Care decided to implement the system statewide after Purdue University concluded it would substantially improve early care and education in the state. The bureau plans a media campaign to increase awareness of the program this year.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has named Paul Reville as the state's new Secretary of Education. Reville will oversee the new Executive Office of Education, a high-level position Patrick established in January to better ensure seamless delivery of preschool education through higher education. Three agencies will report to him - the Department of Early Education and Care, the Department of Education (which will be renamed the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education), and the new Department of Higher Education. Reville is president of the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy, a private group in Cambridge, Massachusetts and chairman of the State Board of Education.
Time magazine is reporting that federal authorities have conceded a connection between a girl's autistic symptoms and the vaccines she received, cautioning that the connection is complex. The panel of medical evaluators at the Department of Health and Human Services reviewing Hannah Poling's case concluded she had an underlying cellular disorder that was aggravated by the vaccines, causing brain damage with features of autism spectrum disorder. The federal vaccine court has yet to award damages, but, says Time, the case is causing a sensation in the autism advocacy community.
New Zealand's Scoop Independent News reports that the union representing thousands of public sector early childhood teachers wants the government to step in and buy up all ABC Learning Centres in the country to avoid displacing the 8,000 children attending the 116 ABC sites and to upgrade the quality of the programs. Trading in shares of the troubled Australian-owned ABC Learning Centres is suspended as the company seeks buyers.

NIEER Activities

NIEER researchers Steve Barnett, Jason Hustedt, and Debra Ackerman will be presenting at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in New York City. Dr. Hustedt will present "A National Overview of State Prekindergarten Policies: Access, Quality and Spending" on Monday, March 24 at 2:15 pm. Dr. Ackerman will present "Taking Advantage of Their Time: What Happens in Full- and Half-Day Classrooms?" on Tuesday, March 25 at 8:15 am. Dr. Barnett will be participating in an interactive symposium on "Think tanks and educational research" Thursday, March 27 at 2:15 pm.

Calendar

March 26, 2008 - March 29, 2008
Atlanta, GA – The theme of this year's conference is "Beyond Standards: Reaching Every Child's Potential."
March 30, 2008 - April 1, 2008
Louisville, KY – This conference draws together national and international participants to discuss issues of relevance to family literacy.
April 1, 2008 - April 3, 2008
St. Louis, MO – Participants at this conference will be given opportunities to network with national and international early childhood professionals while sharing insights and expertise with their peers.
April 1, 2008 - April 5, 2008
Washington, DC – This conference attracts over 600 participants from across the nation, who attend to discover the latest developments in child care resource and referral.
April 10, 2008 - April 11, 2008
San Diego, CA – This institute offers teachers a way to provide academically integrated physical education activities to preschoolers.
April 16, 2008 - April 19, 2008
New Orleans, LA – This conference will host sessions on child care best practices, aiming to improve the quality of early care and education across the country.
April 24, 2008 - April 26, 2008
Menomonie, WI – This conference gives participants a wide choice of individual sessions focusing on issues related to early education programs.
April 30, 2008 - May 2, 2008
Auckland, New Zealand – This conference will help improve the effectiveness of those who are responsible for training early childhood educators.

Early Education News Roundup

March 13, 2008
St. Cloud Times, St. Cloud, MN
A plan to create a state Office of Early Childhood Education from Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, moved forward in a Minnesota Senate committee Wednesday. The office, whose director would be appointed by the governor, would coordinate programs currently administered out of the departments of Education and Human Services, including Early Childhood and Family Education, school readiness, Head Start and child care assistance programs.
March 12, 2008
The Advocate, Stamford, CT
Preschool providers were hoping that the per-child reimbursement rate from the state would increase by $500, to $8,500. The money is crucial, they say, to maintain the quality of their programs as state requirements increase.
March 11, 2008
The Washington Post
To break the stalemate, Senate Democrats on Monday dropped their demands that Kaine's preschool initiative be expanded to include some 4-year-olds eligible for reduced-priced school lunches, as Kaine had proposed. Currently, only 4-year-olds eligible for free school lunches are eligible for pre-kindergarten services. Instead of expanding the program to a new group of 4-year-olds, House and Senate budget negotiators agreed to spend an additional $20 million over two years to bolster the existing system.
March 10, 2008
The News Journal, Wilmington, DE
Studies show that 80 percent of a child's brain development occurs in the first five years. [State Treasurer Jack] Markell's [proposed] plan includes a $12.5 million proposal that would subsidize 75 percent of an instructor's pay to help eligible early-childhood centers hire and retain well-trained educators.
March 9, 2008
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Nationwide, studies have shown that 6 to 9 percent of first- and second-graders started kindergarten about a year after they were eligible — a scenario some educators call "academic redshirting." But when to send a child to kindergarten is an issue many parents still grapple with, and researchers have yet to determine which children really benefit from redshirting, said Beth Graue, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an expert on academic redshirting.
March 9, 2008
The Virginian-Pilot
Anyone who doubts the value of early childhood education programs needs only to compare those costs with the costs of remedial education for 2,000 students. Indeed, the best argument for early childhood education is that it costs much less in the long run to get kids off to a good start than it does to fix them after they have already failed.
March 5, 2008
Anchorage Daily News
A $10 billion operating budget the state House passed Tuesday includes close to $1 million lawmakers had previously cut for Head Start and another early education program.
March 4, 2008
The Olympian, Olympia, WA
Block building provides a natural context to develop early math concepts, such as numbers, quantity, measuring, symmetry and patterns as well as comparisons such as more or less. Researchers found a significant relationship between preschool block performance and the number of math courses taken, the number of honors courses, math grades achieved and math test scores.
March 3, 2008
Cornell Chronicle
But for rural tots in low-income communities, it's a different story: Only about one-quarter (26 percent) of these children, 4-years-old and younger, can be served by state-regulated early education programs in their areas, compared with almost half (44 percent) of poor urban/suburban young children, according to three Cornell researchers. These findings highlight an important need in rural communities that is especially relevant given New York's recent efforts to increase access to early education for 4-year-olds through its pre-K program.
March 2, 2008
The Mississippi Press
The Excel by 5 program is a reminder that Mississippi is lagging in pre-kindergarten education. A pilot pre-kindergarten program is one of the legislative priorities of the Mississippi Board of Education.
March 2, 2008
The Anniston Star, Anniston, AL
Even in Alabama, where increasing funding for education frequently is smacked down by voters, few teachers, day-care operators or parents would say the program doesn't succeed in getting children ready for school. What remains to be seen is whether the Legislature will pay to expand the program to reach 21,000 4-year-olds by 2011.
March 2, 2008
Lawrence Journal-World
Advocates for early childhood education have traditionally pointed to Kansas as being among the worst states in the country for pre-elementary school funding. But in the past few years, they have seen progress.

Resources

This policy paper from the Center for Law and Social Policy highlights strategies to address working families' needs, examines the extent to which state-funded preschool education programs meet those needs, and describes models that currently do so.
This searchable database from the Administration for Children & Families includes more than 40 years of research abstracts, literature reviews, and descriptive studies relating to the federal Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
From Frank Porter Graham's National Professional Development Center on Inclusion comes this document summarizing key conclusions from the body of literature on early childhood inclusion.
This study, published in the Journal of School Psychology, explores the factors contributing to the level of involvement of Head Start parents in their children's education.