Volume 9, Issue 11

May 28, 2010

Hot Topics

The Wall Street Journal reports that researchers scanning the brains of sleeping babies say autistic children as young as 14 months of age use different brain regions than more normally developing children. In typically developing babies, both the right and left temporal areas of the brain were active but in autistic children, the left temporal area, which deals with language, was far less active. While only 43 children were in the study sample, it appears to confirm why poor language comprehension is a red flag for autism in young children.
Parents who delay children receiving a portion of the vaccines they are supposed to get out of fear that “vaccine overload” will negatively affect development are doing their kids no favors. If fact, they may be exposing them to disease, say University of Louisville School of Medicine researchers who studied data from speech, behavior and intelligence tests conducted years after children received their vaccines. Analyzing the data from more than 1,000 kids, they found there wasn’t a single variable where the kids with delayed vaccination did better than the kids who received 10 shots by the age of seven months. The authors also refuted the concept of vaccine overload. Their study is published in the May 24 online edition of the journal Pediatrics.
Researchers who studied more than 1,000 children on the basis of the settings in which they were cognitively stimulated found that kids who were consistently cognitively stimulated at home, in preschool or child care, and in the first grade classroom had higher math achievement. Kids who were consistently cognitively stimulated at home and in preschool or child care had higher reading achievement. These effects were more pronounced for low-income children.
When the Government Accountability Office (GAO) used fictitious identities and bogus documents to attempt to register over-income children at Head Start centers in six states, they found that in eight out of 13 attempts, Head Start staff fraudulently misrepresented information, including disregarding part of the families' income to register over-income children into under-income slots. It its report, the GAO concluded over-income children may be getting enrolled in Head Start while legitimate under-income children are put on waiting lists. At no point was information submitted by the GAO's fictitious parents verified, suggesting parents are able to falsify earnings statements and other documents to qualify.
At least the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is considering it. This week, University of Virginia professor Robert Pianta, a NIEER scientific advisory board member, testified that "Incorporating high-quality early childhood education into reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would produce policies that would create a new portal into the education system." He and other experts, including fellow NIEER scientific advisory board member Lawrence J. Schweinhart from the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, went before the committee to address how federal policies can foster alignment between early childhood and K-12 education. A webcast of their testimony is available here.
In its new KIDS COUNT Special Report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation calls for a renewed emphasis on reading success and spells out four steps aimed at achieving grade-level reading proficiency for all children by third grade. They include development of a coherent system of early childhood education that coordinates what happens from birth through third grade, parental supports, turning around low-performing schools, and solving the problems of chronic school absence and summer learning loss. The report provides state-level data to help parents, policymakers, educators, and concerned citizens rally around the effort.

Calendar

June 14, 2010 - June 16, 2010
Lake Geneva, WI – This conference is targeted for professionals who work with children from birth through age 5.
June 22, 2010 - June 24, 2010
Orlando, FL – This professional development event covers four approaches to better teaching and learning.
June 29, 2010 - July 1, 2010
New Brunswick, NJ – The Rutgers University Institute for Improving Student Achievement's Summer Institute 2010 will begin a series of professional development sessions based on McREL's research on the effects of leadership on student achievement.
July 11, 2010 - July 14, 2010
Columbus, OH – The conference aims to guide participants towards the development of innovative strategies integrating early learning in elementary schools.
July 11, 2010 - July 14, 2010
Riga, Latvia – This conference will discuss research, evidence-based practices, and innovations in special education and inclusive services.
July 15, 2010 - July 17, 2010
Nashville, TN – Topics addressed at this conference for family child care providers include child-based curriculum, policies, and quality improvement.
July 19, 2010 - July 21, 2010
Anaheim, CA – This year, the Department of Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will offer a separate Early Learning and Development Strand at the 2010 Reading Institute.
July 27, 2010 - July 29, 2010
Atlanta, GA – At this conference, participants will learn about the Piramide Method of Early Learning as a framework for early care and learning.
August 11, 2010 - August 13, 2010
Goteborg, Sweden – This conference will focus on children's rights and education for sustainable development in a local and global context.
August 18, 2010 - August 20, 2010
Portland, OR – This year's forum provides participants with opportunities to learn innovative approaches connecting theory to action.
September 22, 2010 - September 24, 2010
Arlington, VA – This annual event provides participants with the opportunity to discuss and influence federal education policy.

Early Education News Roundup

May 28, 2010
Erie Times-News, Erie, PA
Speakers at the region's first Economic Summit on Early Childhood Investments said that money spent on preschool education pays dividends in economic and work-force development.
May 26, 2010
The Daily Advertiser, Lafayette, LA
Data shows that students perform better in school after some early childhood education. Students are taught how to behave in school, basic skills, numbers, colors and precursors to reading during a year of pre-kindergarten.
May 26, 2010
The Birmingham News
A coalition dedicated to expanding quality pre-kindergarten education for 4-year-olds in Alabama has found voters support spending more money on the effort -- regardless of party affiliation. Jan Hume, executive director of the alliance, said the results were a surprise to pollsters -- Alabama support for pre-kindergarten education remains as strong as it was four years ago, even in the face of high unemployment and a tepid economy.
May 25, 2010
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia's voluntary pre-kindergarten program started in 1993 with 750 students and now has some 81,068 students in public schools and private day care centers in all 159 counties. Waiting lists, however, are becoming more common, especially in the metro areas.
May 23, 2010
The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, IA
Preschool spending has climbed at a time when public schools have been forced to raise property taxes, lay off teachers and combine classes to deal with their most difficult budgets in years. Universal preschool is in addition to Head Start and other government-run preschool efforts that target low-income families.
May 20, 2010
EmaxHealth
Preschool children not only suffer with depression, their symptoms are often unnoticed and thus the condition goes undiagnosed. Recent findings on preschool depression indicate that it is not a temporary condition and that early detection is important.
May 20, 2010
Babble
These days most experts agree that the developing mind can easily handle the double input. And research is beginning to show that, in addition to the linguistic benefits, learning multiple languages might provide valuable mental exercise for kids that could have positive long-term effects.
May 20, 2010
WFMY TV, Greenesboro, NC
For the second year in a row, North Carolina ranks among the nation's top two states for preschool education. The state tied Alabama for first, scoring a perfect 10. It's also the fifth time the state placed in the top 10.
May 19, 2010
Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Parents who engage their young children in conversational give-and-take help their offspring gain a significant leg up in terms of language acquisition, new Dutch research reveals. The boost to childhood language proficiency appears to be predicated on allowing children to engage in so-called "serious" conversations with their family members -- dialogues that permit them to make meaningful contributions to the subject at hand.
May 18, 2010
The Sentinel, Lewistown, PA
Return of investment of early childhood education includes school success, graduation, work force readiness and job productivity, [former president and CEO of Weis Markets Inc. Norm] Rich said. "Investing in children is investing in America," he said.
May 18, 2010
The Christian Science Monitor
A new report argues that third-grade reading proficiency heavily influences later achievement, including high school graduation. What's needed, say the report's authors and other education advocates, is more focus on children's 0-8 years, as well as a system that does a better job of integrating early-childhood education, K-12, parental support, and health and human services.
May 17, 2010
Honolulu Star-Bulletin
All over the country, the financial crisis has forced states to make cuts to close what the National Conference of State Legislatures found was an overall budget gap of $174.1 billion this fiscal year and has lawmakers looking to cut another $89 billion next year. That means slashing services to children, the one population they have long protected.
May 16, 2010
The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN
The economic tailspin forcing states to look closely at spending priorities didn't keep 29 states from increasing enrollment in their preschool programs last year. Regrettably, Indiana still languishes among the handful of backward states with no support for high-quality pre-K.
May 16, 2010
The Charleston Gazette
What West Virginia needs is greater investment in early childhood education, especially for the poorest and most disadvantaged of children. Almost one-third of West Virginia's youngest children under 5 live in poverty. If we do not address their needs, we will never achieve the prosperity we all desire.

Resources

Among the articles in this issue are the results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development that tracks children to the age of 15, finding that the positive effects from high-quality child care last into the teenage years. Another article discusses findings of a study looking at very young children's topographic representations of their own bodies, finding that children possess an explicit, if rudimentary, topographic representation of their own body's shape, structure, and size by 30 months of age.
The latest edition of this annual report from Pre-K Now finds that if all of the governors' FY 2011 budgets were to pass as proposed, total state pre-K funding would remain roughly the same as FY 2010 – about $5.3 billion. Beyond the national total lie big variations, ranging from expansion plans in Alabama to elimination of state pre-K in Arizona. Nine governors propose expanding pre-K, 10 propose flat-funding it, and 12 propose cutting funding.
This web page gathers in one place presentations made by prominent education experts who participated in U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services (HHS) recent Listening and Learning About Early Learning meetings. The presentations address four subject areas: Understanding Preschool–Grade 3 Structures, Workforce and Professional Development, Family Engagement, and Standards and Assessments.

Among the 16 presenters were Jerry Weast, superintendent of the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland; Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute in New York; Marcy Whitebook, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California, Berkeley; Eugene Garcia, vice president for education partnerships at Arizona State University (and a NIEER scientific advisory board member); Ruby Takanishi, president of the Foundation for Child Development; Deborah Leong, Metropolitan State College, Denver, Colorado (and a NIEER senior research fellow); and Linda Espinosa, associate professor, University of Missouri, Columbia (and a former NIEER co-director).