As If We Didn't Already Know

If you've been reading TFT for a while you know I blame poverty for most of our ills in education. Now a study has been published that nobody will read or reference saying exactly that!

From Early Ed Watch:
Why such significant differences? The researchers lay out several potential reasons: The effects of poverty on brain development are linked to cognitive ability in later years. Poverty can affect a family by elevating the stress parents feel and causing an increased likelihood of harsh parenting practices. These practices have the greatest impact during the early childhood years when the mother-child relationship serves as the foundation for a child's ability to regulate his emotions. That regulation, in turn, has an effect on children's achievement, behavior, and health. With little money to spare beyond day-to-day living expenses, parents can’t afford to financially support emergent literacy with books, educational toys and activities. These experiences in the early years are the basis of prior knowledge necessary for later school success.

Poverty can even touch children in the womb, with pregnant mothers' low incomes leading them to purchase less nutritious food , which leads to babies born at lower birth weights. That same lack of nutrition can lead to unhealthy weight gain as children grow. The pattern of low birth weight followed by rapid weight gain can lead to insulin resistance, the primary characteristic of diabetes, according to researchers into childhood links to adult disease.

The study provides some of the strongest evidence yet of the link between early childhood poverty and long-term adult outcomes. A proactive birth to five public policy, targeting the well being of our youngest citizens, would go a long way toward better outcomes for all of society.


Learning First Alliance Says No To ESEA

From Public School Insights:
Yesterday, the Learning First Alliance, which sponsors this site, released the following statement on competitive grant programs:
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has been a critical instrument in the federal government’s efforts to promote equity in education. The Learning First Alliance (LFA) believes equity must remain a non-negotiable goal of ESEA reauthorization. We applaud the Obama Administration’s proposal to increase federal resources for public schools in 2011. But we urge Congress to avoid provisions that could undermine, rather than support, equity.

For this reason, ESEA should not divert substantial federal resources into competitive grant programs. This strategy threatens to penalize low-income children in school districts that lack the capacity to prepare effective grant proposals. It risks deepening the disparities between rich and poor districts, effectively denying resources to the students who need them most.
Those who propose the competitive grants have good intentions, but too much focus on such grants might make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Small, rural districts can't generally afford grant writers. Foundations might be able to help in some cases, but they might also put themselves in the awkward position of essentially choosing the winners and losers.

We must be very careful never to visit the sins (or disadvantages) of the fathers upon the children. That's a very real danger if we tip the balance too far in favor of competitive grants. When the adults don't win grants, it's the children who lose out.

Michelle Rhee Gets Saved

From Mike Klonsky:
Rhee's strategy had been nothing less than shattering D.C.'s teachers union and overriding the teachers collective bargaining agreement with the district. Broom in hand, she promised her patrons at Broad and Gates, that she would close schools, turn them over to private management companies and the Archdiocese, and sweep away teacher tenure and fire teachers in mass....
The contract, if and when it is ratified by the rank-and-file, is a life raft, thrown by Weingarten, that Rhee (and Dunn) hope can keep her, Parker, and Fenty afloat, at least until after the elections....


Wednesday Bonus Cartoon Fun II: I'm Gay Edition

About That 72-Virgin Gang Bang

Heaven is constantly shifting shape because it is a history of subconscious human longings. Show me your heaven, and I'll show you what's lacking in your life. The desert-dwellers who wrote the Bible and the Quran lived in thirst--so their heavens were forever running with rivers and fountains and springs. African-American slaves believed they were headed for a heaven where "the first would be last, and the last would be first"--so they would be the free men dominating white slaves. Today's Islamist suicide-bombers live in a society starved of sex, so their heaven is a 72-virgin gang-bang.
h/t Sully

Stop School Budget Cuts

Wednesday Bonus Cartoon Fun: God Not Happy Edition

Wednesday Cartoon Fun: Coal Edition


Dan Willingham On The NAEP

I think too much pedagogy is based on belief with no facts. Reading scores get cruddy due to this, as Dan Willingham points out:
The belief that kids will be better readers if we simply get them to read more is rooted in the belief that reading comprehension is a transferable skill that, once mastered, applies to any text. That’s true of decoding, but not of comprehension.

What’s needed is a substantial knowledge base. Knowledge of the content they are likely to encounter when reading the sorts of materials we expect them to read confidently: newspapers, magazines, and serious books.

That knowledge should be accumulated beginning in Pre-K, with read-alouds, activities, field trips, and the like. It should continue throughout their education.

Until we start paying more attention to content, expect flat reading scores.

Monday Cartoon Fun: Toles In Color! Edition

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