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POST-DISPATCH: THE FIX FOR BROKEN EDUCATION SYSTEM IS SURRENDERING YOUR CHILDREN SOONER

St. Louis and Kansas City school kids are being robbed of the opportunity to learn.

Some are being socially promoted, others, lost through the cracks.

So how does one go about fixing this?

Accept the government school system is overrun with bureaucracy, fat from union influence over the years?

Promote charter schools, where students generally perform better due to smaller class size and other benefits associated with charter schools?

Increase school choice via vouchers, allowing low income families to enroll their children in private schools?

Hardly.

To the editors of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the solution lies in simply surrendering your child to the system as early as possible:

Welcome to pre-Head Start.

Welcome to pre-Head Start.

While there may be no silver bullet, education and business leaders know one surefire strategy that would help schoolchildren in poverty-stricken neighborhoods, if only state lawmakers had the will to implement it.

That solution is free early childhood education.

Free?

Nevermind. Thats a whole other argument.

Just this month, yet another study — this one a comprehensive analysis of all the available research — was published that shows what most experts already know to be true: Quality early childhood education works.

All the available research?

Wow. Thats expansive. And, bonus for the reader, the were able to take all the research in the entire world and condense the findings into 24 pages, with four pages of end notes.

Thats impressive.

However, theres a problem.

The comprehensive analysis didnt include this:

“Institutionalized messages surrounding ECE claim that it has the potential to promote children’s life-long success, especially among low-income children. I examine the legitimacy of these claims by reviewing empirical evidence that bears on them and find that most are based on results of a small set of impressive but outdated studies. More recent literature reveals positive, short-term effects of ECE programs on children’s development that weaken over time.” – Lowenstein, Journal of Educational Policy, January 2011 – Emphasis added

Or this:

In 1996, the state began to provide preschool for four-year-olds in low-income school districts. Following the New Jersey Supreme Court decision 1998 Abbott v. Burke, the state has funded full-time, year round pre-kindergarten programs for all three- and four-year-olds in the state’s 31 lowest income school districts. The state funds other public education programs in the Abbott districts as well. Through public schools, private preschools and Head Start centers, the pre-kindergarten program served more than 40,500 children in the 2005-2006 school year.  Yet, according to researcher Lisa Snell, “more New Jersey children score below basic (which means they cannot read) on the NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] fourth-grade reading test in 2005 than in 2003 or 1992…In the case of disadvantaged students who qualify for the free lunch program, 52 percent scored below basic in 1992, 54 percent scored below basic in 2003, and 55 percent scored below basic in 2005 in fourth-grade reading.” (Lisa Snell “Preschool reality check in New Jersey,” The Record, Monday, July 30, 2007, emphasis added)

Or this:

A 2007 study funded by the NICHD tracked 1,364 children who had participated in early childhood education. Preschool participants were more likely to score higher on factors of aggression and disobedience as reported by their teachers. This finding was true even for children who attended high quality center-based care. The more time a child spent in center-based care the more likely he or she was to be described by sixth grade teachers as one who “gets in many fights,” is “disobedient at school,” and “argues a lot.”

Which is strange, considering they are all featured in the same article here.

Strange that the Post-Dispatch editors couldnt find this either.

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