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Wed Nov 21, 2012, 05:39 PM

Elaine Weiss: Education Begins Before School

Most debates about educational reform have not embraced the most fundamental question: When does education begin? It certainly begins before school. In fact, babies are born learning. Over 85 percent of their brain weight will be formed by age five. Yet we spend 90 percent of our education dollars on children over age five. Furthermore, we know that early childhood is foundational to later success in school and beyond. There are countless studies showing that children who start behind, stay behind.

As stated by Federal Reserve Chair, Ben Bernanke, "Although education and the acquisition of skills is a lifelong process, starting early in life is crucial. Neuroscientists observe that... the child is more likely to succeed in school and to contribute to society as an adult."


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Reply Elaine Weiss: Education Begins Before School (Original post)
YoungDemCA Nov 2012 OP
Jackpine Radical Nov 2012 #1
FarCenter Nov 2012 #2
Jackpine Radical Nov 2012 #6
FarCenter Nov 2012 #7
Jackpine Radical Nov 2012 #9
mia Nov 2012 #3
FarCenter Nov 2012 #4
mia Nov 2012 #5
Jackpine Radical Nov 2012 #10
Igel Nov 2012 #8
Jackpine Radical Nov 2012 #11

Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 05:46 PM

1. Jesus H. Christ, we knew this 50 years ago.

Are we gonna finally do something to implement our knowledge of child development?

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 05:48 PM

2. Since half of all mothers are below average, what are you going to do?

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #2)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 06:26 PM

6. Well, as a matter of fact, I have an answer to that.

From Wikipedia, the Milwaukee Project.

I was in grad school art Madison at the time & knew a number of people involved with this project.From what they were saying, the project was real, as were the results. However, when the project came to an end, so did the interventions necessary to maintain the gains, with the result that the kids eventually sank back into the environmental morass from which they had come. Rick Heber was an asshole. Incidentally, after his fall from grace he ended up dying in a plane crash on Mount Kilimajaro iirc. A strange irony, if ya ask me.

The Milwaukee Project was a program begun in the 1960s designed to improve the IQs and scholastic achievement of children at risk and to study the effects of intellectual stimulation on children from deprived environments.

Rick Heber of the University of Wisconsin–Madison examined the statistics of districts in the city of Milwaukee. His attention was drawn towards one district, where the residents had the lowest median income and lowest level of education in the city. The unemployment rate was also very high. Although this district contained only 3% of the city’s population, 33% of all children who had been labeled "mentally retarded" lived there.

Heber selected 40 newborns from this district. All had a mother with an IQ lower than 80. In many cases the father was absent. The newborns were randomly assigned to an experimental and a control group. Mothers of children in the experimental group received education, vocational rehabilitation, and training in homemaking and child care. The children were brought to infant stimulation centers, where they received a high quality educational program designed to develop language and cognitive skills. They also received three balanced meals a day. They stayed there five days a week, seven hours a day. When the children were six the program ended. The children then attended local schools. Both the experimental group and the control group were tested an equal number of times throughout the project.

According to Heber and colleagues, by age six all of the children from the experimental group had higher IQs than all of the children from the control group. Mean IQ was 120 in the experimental group and 87 in the control group. After the children left the program their IQs started declining. By the time both groups were ten years old the IQs of the children of the experimental group had decreased to 105. Mean IQ in the control group was 85.
At age 14, the children in the experimental group had a mean IQ ten points above that of the control group, but the scholastic achievement scores of the experimental group were not better than those of the control group. Both groups performed in school as would be expected from children with a mean IQ of 80. For this reason, Arthur Jensen has suggested that the Milwaukee Project did not produce permanent intelligence gains, but that the IQ gains it showed were due to an indirect form of "teaching to the test".

The Milwaukee Project's claimed success was celebrated in the popular media and by famous psychologists. However, later in the project Rick Heber, the principal investigator, was discharged from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and convicted and imprisoned for large-scale abuse of federal funding for private gain. Two of Heber's colleagues in the project were also convicted for similar abuses. The project's results were not published in any refereed scientific journals, and Heber did not respond to requests from colleagues for raw data and technical details of the study. Consequently, even the existence of the project as described by Heber has been called into question. Nevertheless, many college textbooks in psychology and education have uncritically reported the project's results.

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Response to Jackpine Radical (Reply #6)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 06:38 PM

7. Although their IQs went up, their social and emotional development probably didn't change much

Which would explain why their ultimate academic performance didn't differ from the control group.

Compulsory day care in a really intensive day care program could help some, but probably not a lot and it would be very expensive at $10 K to $15 K / kid per year.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #7)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 07:11 PM

9. A lot of the program had to do with teaching the mothers

(themselves low IQ) rudimentary parenting skills.

The consequences of chaotic, dysfunctional environments are devastating on infants & pre-schoolers. You can see it on MRI's of various brain areas such as the amygdala. Expensive or not, that's where the interventions need to happen.

$15 k per kid per year? Maybe. Prion costs about $25k/yr in WI, & active street criminals cost society about $100k per year on average by conservative estimate.

So, where ya wanna put your money?

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 06:00 PM

3. Great idea: "schools partner with the community to address non-school factors"

...The Early Years Institute is developing a suburban model of school readiness where the schools partner with the community to address non-school factors affecting school readiness from the time they are born. We use as our measure of accountability a tool called the Early Development Instrument (EDI) which was developed in Canada where it is now mandated nationwide. EYI enabled Westbury to be one of 14 sites in the country to test out this new assessment tool for UCLA and United Way Worldwide. Kindergarten teachers complete the EDI for each child, which covers all aspects of school readiness: health, social and emotional development, cognition and literacy, approaches to learning, and communications and general knowledge. The uniqueness of the EDI is that the data are reported back by neighborhood, rather than by child or classroom. This enables us to target, with laser-like precision, which vulnerabilities are occurring in what part of town. More importantly, it galvanizes the residents of that neighborhood to take action and help address the needs.

Educational reform must embrace the notion that when children come to school prepared, everyone in the classroom benefits and that ultimately leads to a higher quality of life for all of us. And when our children have high quality early education, research shows they have higher reading and math scores, better school attendance rates, and higher graduation rates. If we think of school readiness starting at birth, then educational reform must incorporate early childhood and it must be open to the contributions of organizations outside the school.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #4)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 06:21 PM

5. The section on social and emotional development is especially relevant.

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 06:53 PM

8. Yup.

And whenever you do anything for the disadvantaged the advantaged (or the "not disadvantaged") want it, too. Makes it expensive.

There are also hucksters, with things like "phonemic awareness" and other non-scientific, uncontrolled-for drivel. But it makes a few administrators and university faculty feel good, so the bullying of teachers and spending of untold millions of dollars is worth it.

Then you have the fade-out of the effect of early intervention by the middle-school years.

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Response to Igel (Reply #8)

Wed Nov 21, 2012, 07:14 PM

11. I just had a great idea for a book title:

"It takes a village."

Whaddya think? Catchy?

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