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Old 02-18-2013, 08:57 AM  
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Universal pre-K for American children: why are we not doing this?

We have extensive evidence that pre-K education programs make a huge difference in the early learning trajectories of children (David Brooks accurately cites the the Perry and Abecedarian projects as stunning successes). There's evidence that it could reduce poverty and increase the most important aspect of America: social mobility. Social mobility is why America is America -- and universal pre-K helps make that possible.

Head Start has had a difficult time showing the same kind of successes, but many states have supplemented and refined it to actually produce effective results. The Obama administration's plan is to enhance these state improvements by providing funding, and measuring their results -- in other words, it's a perfectly federalist solution. States do all the work, the federal government measures their success and buttresses their efforts financially.

The key: score some incremental improvement through state experimentation. That improvement early in life becomes a key advantage later in life.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/15/op....html?hp&_r=1&

When Families Fail
By DAVID BROOKS
Published: February 14, 2013

Today millions of American children grow up in homes where they don’t learn the skills they need to succeed in life. Their vocabularies are tiny. They can’t regulate their emotions. When they get to kindergarten they’ve never been read a book, so they don’t know the difference between the front cover and the back cover.

But, starting a few decades ago, we learned that preschool intervention programs could help. The efforts were small and expensive, but early childhood programs like the Perry and Abecedarian projects made big differences in kids’ lives. The success of these programs set off a lot of rhapsodic writing, including by me, about the importance of early childhood education. If government could step in and provide quality preschool, then we could reduce poverty and increase social mobility.

But this problem, like most social problems, is hard. The big federal early childhood program, Head Start, has been chugging along since 1965, and the outcomes are dismal. Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution summarizes the findings of the most rigorous research: “There is no measurable advantage to children in elementary school of having participated in Head Start. Further, children attending Head Start remain far behind academically once they are in elementary school. Head Start does not improve the school readiness of children from low-income families.”

Fortunately, that is not the end of the story. Over the past several years, there’s been a flurry of activity, as states and private groups put together better early childhood programs. In these programs, the teachers are better trained. There are more rigorous performance standards. The curriculum is better matched to the one the children will find when they enter kindergarten.

These state programs, in places like Oklahoma, Georgia and New Jersey, have not been studied as rigorously as Head Start. There are huge quality differences between different facilities in the same state or the same town. The best experts avoid sweeping conclusions. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that these state programs can make at least an incremental difference in preparing children for school and in getting parents to be more engaged in their kids’ education.

These programs do not perform miracles, but incremental improvements add up year by year and produce significantly better lives.

Enter President Obama. This week he announced the most ambitious early childhood education expansion in decades. Early Thursday morning, early education advocates were sending each other ecstatic e-mails. They were stunned by the scope of what Obama is proposing.

But, on this subject, it’s best to be hardheaded. So I spent Wednesday and Thursday talking with experts and administration officials, trying to be skeptical. Does the president’s plan merely expand the failing federal effort or does it focus on quality and reform? Is the president trying to organize a bloated centralized program or is he trying to be a catalyst for local experimentation?

So far the news is very good. Obama is trying to significantly increase the number of kids with access to early education. The White House will come up with a dedicated revenue stream that will fund early education projects without adding to the deficit. These federal dollars will be used to match state spending, giving states, many of whom want to move aggressively, further incentive to expand and create programs.

But Washington’s main role will be to measure outcomes, not determine the way states design their operations. Washington will insist that states establish good assessment tools. They will insist that pre-K efforts align with the K-12 system. But beyond that, states will have a lot of latitude.

Should early education centers be integrated with K-12 school buildings or not? Should the early childhood teachers be unionized or certified? Obama officials say they want to leave those sorts of questions up to state experimentation. “I’m just about building quality,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told me. The goal is to make the federal oversight as simple as possible.

That’s crucial. There’s still a lot we don’t know about how to educate children that young. The essential thing is to build systems that can measure progress, learn and adapt to local circumstances. Over time, many children will migrate from Head Start into state programs.

This is rude to say, but here’s what this is about: Millions of parents don’t have the means, the skill or, in some cases, the interest in building their children’s future. Early childhood education is about building structures so both parents and children learn practical life skills. It’s about getting kids from disorganized homes into rooms with kids from organized homes so good habits will rub off. It’s about instilling achievement values where they are absent.

President Obama has taken on a big challenge in a realistic and ambitious way. If Republicans really believe in opportunity and local control, they will get on board.
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Old 02-21-2013, 08:08 AM   #76
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http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinio...union/1934361/

Preschool debate obscures core problem: Our view
'Fragile families' harm children's development.
The Editorial Board
8:03p.m. EST February 20, 2013

In the eyes of many parents and most educators, starting a child's schooling before kindergarten is an indisputable virtue. Your kid acquires learning and social skills that give him or her an advantage.

So it's hardly surprising that President Obama used his State of the Union Address to call for extending that middle- and upper-class habit to all children, at government expense.

But before the checks go out, it would be wise to consider a broader question: Can the middle-class experience be replicated that easily? The evidence says universal preschool alone won't get the job done.

A few small, high-quality programs have shown enduring benefits for at-risk kids. But intensive study of Head Start, the nation's largest and oldest preschool program, finds that the beneficial effects, which are real, wear off by third grade.

The probable reason is not hard to deduce. Children are most likely to succeed in school when pushed by parents who provide stability, help with schooling, and instill an education and work ethic. But for decades now, the American family has been breaking down.

Two-fifths of children born in the USA are born to unmarried mothers, an eightfold increase since 1960. Many succeed thanks to the heroic efforts of strong, motivated single parents and other relatives. But research shows that children of single parents suffer disproportionately high poverty rates, impaired development and low performance in school.

Ron Haskins, an expert on children and families at the Brookings Institution, calls single parenthood a "little motor pushing up the poverty rate." In 2011, the rate for children of single mothers was more than four times greater than that for children of married couples.

Researchers at Princeton and Columbia, following 5,000 children born to married and unmarried parents, have found that the effects of single parenthood seep into every aspect of kids' lives.

A typical pattern in these "fragile families" looks like this: When a child is born, most fathers and mothers are in a committed relationship. By the time the child reaches 5, though, many fathers have disappeared. As the mothers move on to new relationships, the children face more instability, often with new siblings born to different fathers. Boys without strong male role models are more likely to turn to gangs and crime.

Single mothers read less to their children, are more likely to use harsh discipline and are less likely to maintain stable routines, such as a regular bedtime. All these behaviors are important predictors of children's health and development.

It is a tragically familiar pattern. In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then a Johnson administration official and later a U.S. senator, warned about an alarming rise — to nearly 24% — in unmarried births in the black community. His prescient warning created a furor among liberals and civil rights leaders, who accused him of blaming the victim. The rates are now 73% for blacks, 53% for Hispanics and 29% for whites.

Even today, solutions are undermined by ideological warfare. Liberals blame poverty. Conservatives blame the culture. Both are right. The problems are intertwined, and defy easy solutions. Fighting poverty, promoting marriage and stable relationships, intervening with home visits, and improving education all help, but there is no magic answer.

So, sure, explore Obama's plan to expand quality preschool, and make sure kids aren't then dumped into failing elementary schools. But don't miss the core problem. The primary engine of social advancement has always been the family, and it is breaking down.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:09 AM   #77
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North Dakota officials say early childhood programs paying off
FARGO – Alma Pruneda swears by the educational boost her 5-year-old twins, Abby and Hailey, are getting at the Head Start center in south Fargo. The Fargo woman said the pre-kindergarten program has helped her daughters learn their ABC’s, started them reading, spurred their creativity and bolstered their social skills.

By: Helmut Schmidt, INFORUM

FARGO – Alma Pruneda swears by the educational boost her 5-year-old twins, Abby and Hailey, are getting at the Head Start center in south Fargo.

The Fargo woman said the pre-kindergarten program has helped her daughters learn their ABC’s, started them reading, spurred their creativity and bolstered their social skills.

“I think there’s a lot of value in it,” Pruneda said.

“Basically, they get a good foundation and good habits,” she said. “I can’t get my kids out of here. … Even on the weekend they want to go.”

Early childhood education programs throughout North Dakota are paying similar dividends, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler says.

Baesler and other education officials offered up examples of improved learning due to pre-kindergarten programs at a news conference in Bismarck.

At Devils Lake’s Sweetwater Elementary School, in all but one instance, students from low-income families that had been in preschool outperformed their peers in reading. For one group, the gains were holding through third grade, records show.

At the Turtle Mountain Community Elementary School, Tiny Turtles Preschool students were edging their kindergarten peers in reading and math.

In another reading test, 89 percent of Tiny Turtles met their winter reading proficiency mark, with 53 percent of the non-preschool students meeting the benchmark, Baesler said.

“The first years of learning impact the success students experience later in school, and we have the North Dakota data to prove those claims,” Baesler said.

“We are taking the next step in creating our first-class education system in North Dakota with these proven academic results. Again, this isn’t about starting kids earlier, it’s about catching kids when the moment is right.”

In Fargo, going from half-day kindergarten to full-day kindergarten cut the percentage of first-graders at risk of failure from 19.8 percent to 6 percent in five years, said Sen. Nicole Poolman, R-Bismarck.

When Bismarck’s public schools offered half-day kindergarten, about 55 percent of students met their first-grade benchmarks, Poolman said. Since full-day kindergarten was implemented, that’s risen to 85 percent, she said.

“A 30 percent increase we think is very significant,” Poolman said.

Poolman is one of the sponsors of Senate Bill 2229, which seeks about $4.7 million to fund annual grants to help school districts run early childhood education programs.

The bill, like House Bill 1429, would also allow school districts to use local tax revenues to support early childhood programming.

“So far, so good, It came out of the Education Committee 6-0” for a do-pass recommendation, Poolman said. SB 2229 is now with the appropriations committee, she said.

President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address called for a nationwide push to fund pre-kindergarten classes for all families that want their children to take part.

Obama has also called for expanding the existing Head Start program, in which the government pays for public preschool for children from low-income families.

Barry Nelson, director for Head Start for Cass, Ransom, Richland and Sargent counties in North Dakota, welcomes initiatives to better fund early childhood education.

The Fargo Head Start program has 309 children ages 3 to 5 in classes, he said.

Another 56 children are in Early Head Start, for infants to age 3, Nelson said.

Nelson said the waiting list for Head Start is at least another 300 students, while another 400 children are on the Early Head Start list.

“We have far more eligible children applying for the Head Start program than we have the funding to help them,” Nelson said. “It would be wonderful to be able to meet the needs.”
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:12 AM   #78
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MARY SANCHEZ
Preschool is an investment in America
February 18
BY MARY SANCHEZ
The Kansas City Star

Compared with our counterparts in the developed world, the United States is a wealthy nation of dummies and dropouts. A few years ago, American 15-year-olds were ranked 17th in science and an unimpressive 25th in math when compared with their peers in other countries.

Does it have to be this way? Of course not. In fact, for decades, experts in early-childhood education have argued that a relatively direct way to improve school achievement is to enroll all children in preschool.


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/02/15...#storylink=cpy
http://www.kansascity.com/2013/02/15...stment-in.html
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:23 AM   #79
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If my five year old came home with a book on global warming, it would be hand-delivered (with force) back to the face of the idiot who gave him the book.
No, it wouldn't. You would do no such thing.
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:02 PM   #80
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This is a stupid argument. Statistics have shown that most that there is a connection between going to school pre-k and graduation rates as well as a negative correlation between pre-k enrollment and incarceration rates.

Point is that either way it is being paid for. Be it welfare or jail.
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:21 PM   #81
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No, it wouldn't. You would do no such thing.
If you were the teacher, I'd do it in a heartbeat followed up by an elbow smash to your nose.
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:27 PM   #82
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:38 PM   #83
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If you were the teacher, I'd do it in a heartbeat followed up by an elbow smash to your nose.
That's awesome. Then you really could be a prison bitch.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:08 PM   #84
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This is all part of a plan that it's ok for the state to handle your children and parenting is bad...only the state knows whats good for you.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:08 PM   #85
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If you were the teacher, I'd do it in a heartbeat followed up by an elbow smash to your nose.
No, you wouldn't.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:22 PM   #86
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This is all part of a plan that it's ok for the state to handle your children and parenting is bad...only the state knows whats good for you.
That is stupid. It's all part of a plan to give children a head start on life. If you can still home school your children then you can still provide pre-k homeschooling as well.
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:23 PM   #87
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This is all part of a plan that it's ok for the state to handle your children and parenting is bad...only the state knows whats good for you.
Exactly. Don't expect any admissions though. What's good according to the state has tangible results.
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:44 PM   #88
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Old 02-22-2013, 01:00 PM   #89
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That is stupid. It's all part of a plan to give children a head start on life. If you can still home school your children then you can still provide pre-k homeschooling as well.
lol whatever

it's all part of a plan to indoctrinate your kids at a very young age and get them used to the state's "system".
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Old 02-22-2013, 01:23 PM   #90
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I don't care, as long as everyone in the area where it occurs gets the same amount of money's worth. It's bullshit if people pay $100 a week because they can afford it and someone else gets it for free.

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