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News & Politics News & Politics

Why President Obama is Awesome

Posted by on Mar. 23, 2013 at 4:15 AM
  • 55 Replies
5 moms liked this

in my opinion...

He listens to, understand and then acts upon the scientific evidence; and when that's unpopular, he's prepared to lead.

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(source)

Americans argue about the need for early schooling

“WHAT part of the book is this?” asks the teacher, pointing to the binding. Twenty children of three and four answer: “The spine!” The instructor then asks, “Where is your spine?” and all the little pupils point to the right place. They arrived at eight this morning at Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, and were given breakfast. Later they will have lunch and take a nap. Although there is plenty of time to play, they spend much of their day learning letters, numbers, vocabulary and even manners. Marilyn Joseph, who heads the early-learning programme, says they want to make poor children as ready for school as those from better-off families.

The first year of school in America, known as kindergarten, usually begins between the ages of five and six. Among rich countries such a late start is something of an anomaly. Barack Obama believes it is an economic and social problem; his education secretary goes as far as to say that it is “morally indefensible”. This statement has some support, as it is clear from research into vocabulary that youngsters from poor families enter kindergarten well behind their peers—a disadvantage that usually lasts a lifetime. Children from households on welfare knew 525 words by the age of three, while the offspring of professionals had mastered 1,116.

Pre-school (nursery, in British parlance) can help close this gap. So in Mr Obama’s state-of-the-union message last month he called for a partnership between the federal government and the states to expand it to every American child. It later transpired that “every” meant those who come from families with incomes of up to 200% above the poverty line—equivalent to an income of $47,000 for a family of four.

Some critics say that sending children to school at the age of four does not work. The evidence suggests otherwise. For example, on March 20th new results were announced from a study of nine-to-11-year-olds in New Jersey. This report found that disadvantaged children who had attended pre-school had better literacy, language, maths and science skills. And two years of pre-kindergarten were better than one.

Some studies also track the effects of early learning over lifetimes, such as its effect on crime rates and other factors that may eventually burden society. Critics have latched onto a government scheme called Head Start, created in 1965, which provides poor households with a range of services including school-based early education. The quality of Head Start’s school provision is highly variable, a factor that is rarely taken into account.

The sniping focuses on a study that found the educational gains from Head Start had petered out by third grade. Opponents say this proves that pre-school is a failure. In fact, it demonstrates what everyone has known for a long time: that Head Start is failing to deliver the level of cognitive improvement that children in better pre-schools achieve. The problems stem from its absence of oversight. Some providers have had decades of funding, though they have not had to produce any evidence that they were teaching well. This is changing. Mr Obama’s administration has so far required 254 of 1,600 grant recipients to reapply for their money. The results have not yet been announced.

Unfortunately, the entire pre-kindergarten industry is fragmented, with few standards and little oversight. Many of its teachers are unaccredited. According to Mr Obama, less than 30% of four-year-olds are in good programmes. Nevertheless, some states (see map) and school districts need no convincing of its benefits, and pre-schooling has grown in the past decade. More than 28% of four-year-olds, about 1.1m children, are in state-funded public pre-kindergarten. (Adding in other programmes, including Head Start, brings public enrolment to 42%.) Cuts, though, are looming, thanks to the sequester.

The president has been short on specifics. He has not explained how his plan will be financed. Some speculate that funds will be taken from Head Start. Sceptics contend that new money will be needed, and this will be difficult to get past tight-fisted Republicans. This is why many in Washington and in education think the idea will not get far.

While some argue over finances, and others over efficacy, the real issue is whether the country can realistically roll out, on a large scale, the kind of excellent learning that would feed minds and help the economy grow. On America’s route to becoming the wealthiest nation on Earth, it has notched up any number of impressive achievements. Landing on the Moon is easy. Teaching millions of four-year-olds, and doing it well, is much harder.

by on Mar. 23, 2013 at 4:15 AM
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Clairwil
by Platinum Member on Mar. 23, 2013 at 4:22 AM

there is striking evidence that extending pre-school access to the poorest and most vulnerable children can boost their education and livelihood opportunities later in life. 

we look at some of that evidence.

The more time children spend in pre-school, the better their performance in primary school. Recent evidence based on the 2009 PISA survey shows that in 58 of 65 countries, 15-year-old students who had attended at least a year of pre-primary school outperformed students who had not, even after accounting for socio-economic background.

Detailed evidence based on long-term studies from high income countries shows that pre-school contributes to school readiness and later academic achievement through the development of non-cognitive skills, such as attention, effort, initiative and behaviour, as well as cognitive skills in reading and mathematics. There is now a growing body of evaluations from developing countries highlighting the benefits of pre-schooling.

The benefits of pre-school for non-cognitive skills are demonstrated by a study in Argentina. As well as having higher test scores, third graders who had one year of public pre-primary school in an urban area showed improved attention, effort, class participation and discipline. In rural Gansu, Shaanxi and Henan, China, 4- and 5-year-olds who had attended pre-primary education scored 20% higher on a school readiness scale than those who had not.

Studies from many countries, including Chile, India and Madagascar, show the contribution of pre-school to overall cognitive abilities. In Chile, children entering primary school who had enrolled in public pre-schools or child care centres had higher cognitive skill scores. In rural Maharashtra, India, a project that improved the pre-school component of the Integrated Child Development Services had significant positive effects on the developmental and cognitive outcomes of 4- to 6-year-olds. In Madagascar, primary school children who had attended pre-school showed a 2.7 month benefit in terms of cognitive development and a 1.6 month benefit in terms of language and motor skills.

The effects can be particularly beneficial in addressing disadvantage. In a study in Argentina, the effect of having attended pre-school on third grade test scores was twice as large for students from poor backgrounds than for students from non-poor backgrounds.

Other research has demonstrated the benefits of pre-school in terms of developing specific cognitive skills. Fourth grade primary school children in Brazil who had attended day care and/or kindergarten scored higher in mathematics. In rural Bangladesh, an aid-funded project run by local NGOs set up 1,800 pre-schools, provided them with better materials and improved the quality of teaching. Participating children performed better in speaking, reading, writing and mathematics by the second grade of primary school than those who did not attend pre-school. In rural Guizhou, China, first-grade children who had attended kindergarten had literacy and mathematics scores significantly better than other children’s.

Attending pre-school also tends to increase the number of years of education that children eventually attain. In Uruguay, 15-year-olds who had attended a public or private pre-school accumulated 0.8 years more education, were 27% more likely to still be in school and were less likely to repeat a grade than siblings who had not attended. In Mozambique, attending pre-school increased the probability of enrolling in primary school by 24%.

Pre-school attendance can also lead to higher earnings and employment outcomes in adulthood. The Early Enrichment Project in Turkey in the 1980s – which included a pre-schooling intervention – targeted children of low income migrant families whose mothers had little education. Two decades later, participants were found to have better educational attainment and occupational status than those who had not participated (Kagitcibasi et al., 2009).

(source)

Carpy
by Platinum Member on Mar. 23, 2013 at 6:34 AM
11 moms liked this

You can have him if you want him.

rocketracer
by Gold Member on Mar. 23, 2013 at 11:08 AM
3 moms liked this

Yeah, just take kids at birth, put them in an gov't institution, only feed them what gov't wants to feed the and teach them what the gov't wants to teach them.  Oh yeah, make vouchers illegal.

JakeandEmmasMom
by Gold Member on Mar. 23, 2013 at 11:21 AM
2 moms liked this

 I'm a fan of early childhood education, even if it means the government paying for it.  IMO, it is a good investment.  The fact is, not every parent has the time or education themselves to effectively prepare their children for kindergarten.  There should be something available to those families so that their children enter kindergarten prepared.

There was recently a study conducted in my state that demonstrated that nearly a third of our children are not prepared for kindergarten when they enter.  Here is an article that discusses it.

If kids start out behind, it only makes sense that they are likely to stay behind throughout their school career.

rocketracer
by Gold Member on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:15 PM
4 moms liked this


Yeah, maybe he can teach their kids his mis-interpretations of The Constitution and/or his ideas about redistribution.

Quoting Carpy:

You can have him if you want him.



grandmab125
by Platinum Member on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:46 PM
3 moms liked this

 Apparently, you missed the many discussions on CM on our abominable early childhood tax payer funded early childhood ed program, Head Start.  Our HHS (the dept under which HS resides) very own study released in December, showed that by the end of third grade, any advantaged a kid in HS might have had entering Kindergarten, had disappeared by the end of third grade.

JakeandEmmasMom
by Gold Member on Mar. 23, 2013 at 12:54 PM
1 mom liked this

 

Quoting grandmab125:

 Apparently, you missed the many discussions on CM on our abominable early childhood tax payer funded early childhood ed program, Head Start.  Our HHS (the dept under which HS resides) very own study released in December, showed that by the end of third grade, any advantaged a kid in HS might have had entering Kindergarten, had disappeared by the end of third grade.

 That was discussed in the OP.  Did you read that part?

IMO, the issue needs further study.  I'm not willing to scrap the concept of universal early childhood education because of this one study.  It's too important and there are too many variables affecting that study.

cammibear
by Bronze Member on Mar. 23, 2013 at 1:02 PM
8 moms liked this
I started teaching my children the day they were born. If you spend any time with your kids, they will learn. Our problem is not lack of education, it's lack of parental responsibility. Until that issue is dealt with, no amount of government education is going to help those who are underprivileged in our country. Government education does not equal moral, responsible citizenship. In fact, quite the opposite if that's all you are getting.
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Clairwil
by Platinum Member on Mar. 23, 2013 at 1:08 PM
3 moms liked this
Quoting cammibear:

Our problem is not lack of education, it's lack of parental responsibility.

Given that you can't fix the lack of parental responsibility over night, though; that means there IS a secondary problem, which is how best to use the education system to compensate for the lack of parental responsibility in the mean time.


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