November 28, 2013 at 12:05 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I think that what the forces that want to privatize [profitize] education call an achievement gap is really an opportunity gap. Education cannot be responsible for social inequity and poverty….it can be a bulwark against further erosion if we fund it correctly. Skill ownership in reading and math have increased steadily over the last 40 years… across all groups of children [check NAEP] yet the poverty schools continue to lag behind.

Ask people if they believe education needs to be reformed and they will say yes. Ask them if they are satisfied with the neighborhood school that their child attends and they will also say yes. Ask them if they would like to see the sweeping changes in their neighborhood school and they will say NO! HUH?

This is reminiscent of our healthcare debate. Ask citizens if they would like an affordable healthcare act and they will say yes….Ask them if they would like Obamacare and they will say no….HUH?

Why are there hungry Americans anywhere?


THE FIRST EIGHT YEARS giving kids a foundation for lifetime success

November 16, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Minimal supports for families. The cost
of raising a child is high for most families.
Low-income families with limited
earnings especially need the help of vital
income supports like the Earned Income
Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, housing
assistance and nutrition programs, such as
the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program
for Women, Infants, and Children
(WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food
stamps). Yet, in many states, it’s not easy
to navigate the eligibility rules and follow
the steps to obtain benefits from these
programs. Only 5 percent of low-income
working families with children receive
the full package of benefits for which they
qualify: SNAP, child care and Medicaid.17
Additionally, all expectant parents need
help to meet the myriad responsibilities
of raising a child, but low-income parents
are typically more isolated and have less
family support. Parent-training and homevisiting
programs can help fill that gap.18
For example, the Nurse-Family Partnership®
program has improved prenatal health,
increased intervals between pregnancies,
lowered levels of substance abuse and
arrests and increased school readiness in
children.19, 20 But even with new federal
investments in such programs, in 2011,
only one out of five low-income parents
was served by a home-visiting program.21

[AECF 2013]

THE FIRST EIGHT YEARS giving kids a foundation for lifetime success

November 12, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Research shows that children who enter kindergarten
with below-average language and cognitive
skills are most likely to catch up only if
they are physically healthy and have strong
social and emotional skills.7 For children
to succeed, we must first dispel the notion
that classroom learning is isolated from
other aspects of child development. Then,
we must create opportunities for children
to develop the full array of competencies
that they need to thrive.
We also must confront barriers to
successful development particular to the
17 million children under age 9 who are
considered low income.8 Research shows
that when young children live in low income
families, especially during infancy,
the results can linger well into adulthood.
For instance, children who live in persistent
poverty or in low-income families
are more likely to be poor between the
ages of 25 and 30, give birth as teens out
of wedlock, struggle to maintain stable
employment and have poor overall health.9
Unfortunately, low-income children are less
likely to have access to the very programs
most likely to help. The nation’s leading
programs to address the healthy development
of low-income children from birth
through age 5 — Early Head Start and
Head Start — serve only a fraction
of eligible children and families. And in
2011, 63 percent of low-income 3- and
4-year-olds were not enrolled in a preschool
program, compared with 45 percent
of their more affluent counterparts.10
Similarly, among 2- through 8-year-olds
identified as having developmental issues,
low-income children were more than twice
as likely as their higher-income peers never
to receive services.

[AECF 2012]

THE FIRST EIGHT YEARS giving kids a foundation for lifetime success

November 12, 2013 at 12:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Parents are both the most important
adults in a young child’s life and the biggest
contributors to their future success.
But some parents find it difficult to provide
adequate care because of the stresses
of poverty and other barriers. This policy
report makes the case for an integrated
and comprehensive system of services
that meets the needs of all children from
birth through age 8, as well as their
families. To be effective, this early childhood
system should embrace a variety
of evidence-based programs with proven
records of supporting families and helping
young children succeed.
One or two programs working in
isolation from each other, no matter
how well-intentioned, will not provide
most children with the assistance they
need to meet all of the milestones of
child development. However, ample
evidence suggests that by integrating
proven programs and services, outcomes
improve dramatically.
Beyond our shared moral duty to
protect children, there are pragmatic
reasons for implementing an integrated
early childhood system that sets all young
children on a path toward successful
adulthood. Today, employers are struggling
to find enough skilled workers. In
the next decade, the demand for workers
with a post-secondary credential or
degree is expected to outpace the supply
significantly.6 Furthermore, as the elderly
population grows, the country faces the
prospect of relying on a smaller workforce
to pay for public-sector programs. A productive
workforce is critical to generating
the resources to support a growing population
of retirees and the future success
of our economy. High-quality early care
and education play an important role in
preparing children for success and lead to
higher levels of educational attainment,
career advancement and earnings. Our
children are undeniably a key resource in

[AECF 2012]

November 9, 2013 Oklahoma! Where the Kids Learn Early By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

November 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

TULSA, Okla. — LIBERALS don’t expect Oklahoma to serve as a model of social policy. But, astonishingly, we can see in this reddest of red states a terrific example of what the United States can achieve in early education.
Every 4-year-old in Oklahoma gets free access to a year of high-quality prekindergarten. Even younger children from disadvantaged homes often get access to full-day, year-round nursery school, and some families get home visits to coach parents on reading and talking more to their children.
The aim is to break the cycle of poverty, which is about so much more than a lack of money. Take two girls, ages 3 and 4, I met here in one Tulsa school. Their great-grandmother had her first child at 13. The grandmother had her first at 15. The mom had her first by 13, born with drugs in his system, and she now has four children by three fathers.
But these two girls, thriving in a preschool, may break that cycle. Their stepgreat-grandmother, Patricia Ann Gaines, is raising them and getting coaching from the school on how to read to them frequently, and she is determined to see them reach the middle class.
“I want them to go to college, be trouble-free, have no problem with incarceration,” she said.
Research suggests that high-poverty parents, some of them stressed-out kids themselves, don’t always “attach” to their children or read or speak to them frequently. One well-known study found that a child of professionals hears 30 million more words by the age of 4 than a child on welfare.
So the idea is that even the poorest child in Oklahoma should have access to the kind of nurturing that is routine in middle-class homes. That way, impoverished children don’t begin elementary school far behind the starting line — and then give up.
President Obama called in his State of the Union address this year for a nationwide early education program like this, for mountains of research suggests that early childhood initiatives are the best way to chip away at inequality and reduce the toll of crime, drugs and educational failure. Repeated studies suggest that these programs pay for themselves: build preschools now, or prisons later.
Because Obama proposed this initiative, Republicans in Washington are leery. They don’t want some fuzzy new social program, nor are they inclined to build a legacy for Obama. Yet national polling suggests that a majority of Republicans favor early-education initiatives, so I’d suggest that Obama call for nationwide adoption of “The Oklahoma Project” and that Republicans seize ownership of this issue as well.
It’s promising that here in Oklahoma, early education isn’t seen as a Republican or Democratic initiative. It is simply considered an experiment that works. After all, why should we squander human capacity and perpetuate social problems as happens when we don’t reach these kids in time?
“This isn’t a liberal issue,” said Skip Steele, a Republican who is a Tulsa City Council member and strong supporter of early education. “This is investing in our kids, in our future. It’s a no-brainer.”
Teachers, administrators and outside evaluators agree that students who go through the preschool program end up about half a year ahead of where they would be otherwise.
“We’ve seen a huge change in terms of not only academically the preparation they have walking into kindergarten, but also socially,” said Kirt Hartzler, the superintendent of Union Public Schools in Tulsa. “It’s a huge jump-start for kids.”
Oklahoma began a pilot prekindergarten program in 1980, and, in 1998, it passed a law providing for free access to prekindergarten for all 4-year-olds. Families don’t have to send their children, but three-quarters of them attend.
In addition, Oklahoma provides more limited support for needy children 3 and under. Oklahoma has more preschools known as Educare schools, which focus on poor children beginning in their first year, than any other state.
Oklahoma also supports home visits so that social workers can coach stressed-out single moms (or occasionally dads) on the importance of reading to children and chatting with them constantly. The social workers also drop off books; otherwise, there may not be a single children’s book in the house.
The Oklahoma initiative is partly a reflection of the influence of George B. Kaiser, a Tulsa billionaire who searched for charitable causes with the same rigor as if he were looking at financial investments. He decided on early education as having the highest return, partly because neuroscience shows the impact of early interventions on the developing brain and partly because careful studies have documented enormous gains from early education.
So Kaiser began investing in early interventions in Oklahoma and advocating for them, and, because of his prominence and business credentials, people listened to the evidence he cited. He also argues, as a moral issue, that all children should gain fairer access to the starting line.
“Maybe the reason that rich, smart parents had rich, smart children wasn’t genetics,” Kaiser told me, “but that those rich, smart parents also held their kids, read to them, spent a lot of time with them.”
I tagged along as a social worker from Educare visited Whitney Pingleton, 27, a single mom raising three small children. They read to the youngest and talked about how to integrate literacy into daily life. When you see a stop sign, the social worker suggested, point to the letters, sound them out and show how they spell “stop.”
Some of the most careful analysis of the Oklahoma results comes from a team at Georgetown University led by William T. Gormley Jr. and published in peer-reviewed journals. The researchers find sharp gains in prereading, prewriting and prearithmetic skills, as well as improvements in social skills. Some experts think that gains in the ability to self-regulate and work with others are even more important than the educational gains — and certainly make for less disruptive classes. Gormley estimates that the benefits of Oklahoma’s program will outweigh the costs by at least a ratio of 3 to 1.
So how about it, America?
Can we embrace “The Oklahoma Project” — not because it’s liberal or conservative, but because it’s what is best for our kids and our country?

THE FIRST EIGHT YEARS giving kids a foundation for lifetime success

November 10, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Transitioning effectively into elementary
school depends largely on a child’s
development across critical areas of wellbeing.
Yet, a new analysis shows that by
age 8, most children in the United States
are not on track in cognitive knowledge
and skills, and many lag in the areas of
social and emotional growth, physical
well-being and engagement in school (see
Figure 1).5 According to this analysis, just
19 percent of 8-year-olds in families with
incomes below 200 percent of the poverty
level and 50 percent of those in families
with incomes above that level have age appropriate
cognitive skills. The picture is
particularly troubling for children of color:
Only 14 percent of black and 19 percent
of Hispanic children have age-appropriate
cognitive skills. Hispanic children lag
behind white children in school engagement
and physical health, while black
children trail all racial and ethnic groups
on most measures.

[AECF 2012 Part 4]

THE FIRST EIGHT YEARS giving kids a foundation for lifetime success [Part 3]

November 9, 2013 at 11:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Investing in the first eight years is
critical for children to succeed, both in
school and in life. As documented in the
Foundation’s 2010 report, Early Warning:
Why Reading by the End of Third Grade
Matters, children who are not proficient in
reading by the end of third grade are likely
to feel alienated from school, and the consequences
stretch well into adulthood.3 In
contrast, children who read proficiently by
the end of third grade are far more likely
to graduate from high school and have
successful careers. However, 68 percent of
U.S. fourth graders and 82 percent of lowincome
fourth graders do not meet that
standard, according to national reading
assessment data, a problem that the Campaign
for Grade-Level Reading is working
to address.4 The challenges are greater for
children of color, those with disabilities
and dual-language learners. For black,
Hispanic and American Indian children,
more than 80 percent in each of these
groups are not proficient readers. Furthermore,
close to 90 percent of low-income children of color do not achieve this standard
for reading, and nearly as many do
not perform proficiently in math.

[AECF 2013]

THE FIRST EIGHT YEARS giving kids a foundation for lifetime success [Part 2]

November 9, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As Nobel
Prize-winning economist James Heckman
points out, the longer society waits to
intervene in children’s lives, the more costly
and difficult it becomes to make up for
early setbacks — both for the struggling
child and for the nation as a whole.2
Investing in the first eight years is
critical for children to succeed, both in
school and in life. As documented in the
Foundation’s 2010 report, Early Warning:
Why Reading by the End of Third Grade
Matters, children who are not proficient in
reading by the end of third grade are likely
to feel alienated from school, and the consequences
stretch well into adulthood.3
[AECF 2012]

THE FIRST EIGHT YEARS giving kids a foundation for lifetime success

November 9, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From the moment they are born, young
children are ready to learn. Behind a toddler’s
soft features and halting first steps,
an unseen, but extremely high-stakes,
activity is taking place — the building of
a brain. What happens to children during
those critical first years will determine
whether their maturing brain has a sturdy
foundation or a fragile one. Fortunately,
children who do not receive the stimulation
and care they need for healthy growth
and development can catch up if they
receive appropriate interventions.
Yet, as a nation, we do not invest
enough in our children’s early years. In
fact, federal spending on children is lowest
when they are young, even though most
brain development occurs during this
period. Worse, since 2010, federal spending
on children has declined and is projected
to continue to decline as a percentage of
GDP over the next decade to its lowest
point since the Great Depression.1
Research shows that every dollar
invested in high-quality early childhood
education produces a 7 to 10 percent
annual return on investment. [AECF 2012REPORT]

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