Volume 9, Issue 4

February 25, 2010

Hot Topics

This week, Grammy Award-winning artist Shakira and World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick launched a joint initiative aimed at expanding development programs for young children in Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the next two years $300 million in loans, grants and trust fund resources will be provided to design and implement early childhood development policies and expand the community of early childhood practitioners. The project will also work with the Early Childhood Development Secretariat for Latin America and the Caribbean, furthering an initiative Shakira and her ALAS Foundation had already undertaken. Fox News was among those covering the launch.
Recent findings from the Head Start Impact Study, which found that by the end of kindergarten, Head Start kids were no further ahead than kids who didn't attend Head Start, have brought calls for the program's termination. Among those calling for the program's discontinuation are Andrew J. Coulson, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom, David Muhlhausen and Dan Lips of the Heritage Foundation, and John Stossel of Fox Business News. NIEER Co-Director Steve Barnett has suggested a more measured response based on the entire research literature as well as a careful assessment of this particular study, as discussed in the Preschool Matters ... Today! blog when the study was first released and this week when he reviews Stossel's provocative show on Fox.
The rate of unemployment for women who maintain households in Pennsylvania has more than doubled between 2007 and 2009, rising from 5 percent to 11 percent, says a study from the Institute for Women's Policy Research and the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania. Food stamp enrollment has increased by 31 percent. The authors say jobs programs and poverty relief should be targeted to single mothers.
Angela Sirigu says oxytocin, the hormone that helps stimulate childbirth and breastfeeding, given early in childhood could conceivably prevent social deficits common in many people with autism. She's the lead researcher in a new study reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In a controlled clinical trial, she and colleagues had 13 young adults with autism and 13 who do not have the disorder inhale oxytocin nasally. The treatment group showed more attentiveness to visual cues when viewing human faces and were more likely to process social cues during a virtual ball-tossing game.
Delays in gross and fine motor development in a child's first year are significantly associated with delayed cognitive and behavioral development at age 5, say researchers at the University of London. The findings emerged from a study of data collected as part of the Millennium Cohort Study which gathered information from the parents of more than 18,000 babies born in the U.K. The authors say early screening followed by interventions is needed. As with all such studies, readers are cautioned that correlation need not imply causation and assessments do not always measure exactly what is on the "label."
Today, the National Council of La Raza released a white paper examining how states are meeting the needs of Latino and English Language Learner (ELL) children and families in their early childhood systems. Based on interviews with state leaders, Responding to the Needs of Young Latino Children: State Efforts to Build Comprehensive Early Learning Systems concludes that states have a long way to go to develop early learning programs that are responsive to the needs of Latino and ELL children and families.

Calendar

March 9, 2010 - March 13, 2010
Washington, DC – The theme for this year's symposium is "Making Connections: All Children, All Families, All Settings."
March 25, 2010 - March 28, 2010
Boston, MA – The theme for this year's AMS conference is "Montessori in the 21st Century."
April 8, 2010 - April 11, 2010
Houston, TX – The theme for this year's National Association of Elementary School Principals convention and expo is "Mission Possible: Enrich Your World and Beyond."
April 20, 2010 - April 23, 2010
Chicago, IL – The theme of this year's conference is "Winds of Change."
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.

Early Education News Roundup

February 23, 2010
The Times-Herald, Newnan, GA
This month the state is celebrating having provided free pre-K to one million youngsters in our state during the past 17 years. Georgia becomes the first state in the nation to serve more than one million pre-K children in a voluntary, universal, lottery-funded program.
February 19, 2010
The DeSoto Times-Tribune, Hernando, MS
Mississippi citizens receive more information about the quality of their hamburger or fried chicken joint than they do about the quality of care for their children. [That] doesn't seem right.
February 17, 2010
The Daily Republic, Mitchell, SD
The state Senate passed legislation Tuesday paving the way for pre-kindergarten programs that would serve lower-income children throughout South Dakota. The proposed law establishes a 16-member Early Learning Council appointed by the governor and sets requirements that communities must follow to be eligible to participate.
February 17, 2010
The Miami Herald
And [Gov. Charlie] Crist's education spending proposal has called for a $44.8 million increase in the program for 4-year-olds. A 2008 report by the National Institute for Early Education Research concluded that while Florida is a national leader in providing pre-kindergarten classes, the program lags in quality and spending.
February 17, 2010
Philadelphia Daily News
A new poll says that 81 percent of Pennsylvania voters support providing early-childhood education to children under age 5, and that 71 percent believe those programs should be state-funded.
February 16, 2010
Kalamazoo Gazette
Preschool serves several important roles. Although many people assume that it's about giving children a jump-start on learning the alphabet and numbers, the goal is more about exposure than actual learning. It's about putting kids in a language-rich environment. It's about getting kids to problem-solve, even if the problem is as simple as building a block tower.
February 15, 2010
Republican-American, Waterbury, CT
Stalled efforts to expand statewide access to early education may soon regain momentum, as a growing number of school districts work to cobble together local programs and the governor's Early Education Cabinet returns to action Thursday following a budget-induced hiatus.

Resources

This brief looks at six out-of-school factors common among the poor that significantly affect the health and learning opportunities of children — and can limit what schools can accomplish on their own. Also discussed is a seventh factor, extended learning opportunities such as preschool and summer school programs that have the potential to mitigate the harm caused by the first six factors.

This brief from the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children examines the policy implications of integrating the pyramid model with early childhood mental health consultation programs at the state and local level.
This issue brief from The Pew Center on the States discusses how early childhood education should be prioritized in budget decisions to help secure states' economic futures.
This policy brief from Zero to Three and the Ounce of Prevention Fund highlights four states, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma, that have supported comprehensive services for at-risk infant and toddlers within a larger birth to age 5 system and provides recommendations for other states.
The Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky estimates in this report that every $1 Kentucky invested in expanding the state's preschool education program would result in more than $5 in benefits.
This report from the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development explores what makes mental health consultation programs effective, providing research-based guidance for program design.
This study from the Education Development Center, Inc. and SRI International found that preschoolers in classrooms using a media-rich curriculum, which incorporated videos and games into instruction, increased the children's early literacy skills.