Friday, June 6, 2008

Connecting the Tots… Obama’s Education Plan

There is no denying the fact that the earlier children are exposed to a high quality, organized learning environment, the more successful they will be in school and in life.

The classic Head Start, founded in 1965, and more recently, the Early Head Start (for infants and toddlers) programs have made positive impacts on the academic and social development of children and their families. The overall goal of these programs is to develop school-readiness for the children of low-income families. Even though there are uneven results because children score higher on academic measures early, but later, especially for minority children, the scores drop to the levels of those children who never attended pre-school programs. However, there are collateral benefits like greater earning power, more stable marriages, reduced dependence on welfare, less time on average in the penal system and lower rates of drug use for those who attended early childhood preschool programs.

Despite under-financing, mixed reviews and what some may characterize as “soft-statistics,” the programs have staved off “bang-for-the-buck” critics and continue to service under-privileged children. That’s because most everyone sees the benefits: White children have a 22 percent higher high school graduation rate; African-American youth have a 12 percent less chance of being charged with a crime and being arrested. (The increase in academic achievement for African-American youth, however, is not statistically significant after the third or fourth grade.)(See Ludwig and Phillips, 2007)

Even the “bang-for-the-buckers” know that studies show that Head Start has a 7 to 1 benefit-cost ratio. That means that for every dollar spent for pre-school programs you get a benefit equal to at least 7 dollars. (Just consider what it costs to incarcerate our youth.)Those same studies show that there is a direct relationship with increased funding to an increase in school attainment and a likelihood of attending some college.

So maybe, Obama has it right! He is making early childhood education the keystone of his education program and proposes spending $10 billion a year on his “Zero to Five” pre-school proposal. That kind of an investment could even provide a higher benefit-cost ratio.

2 comments:

phyllis c. murray said...

The Crisis in Education Continues: How will it end?

By Phyllis C. Murray

"There is no denying the fact that the earlier children are exposed to a high quality, organized learning environment, the more successful they will be in school and in life."Connecting the Tots...Obama's Education Plan By Bill Stamatis

“Almost half the nation’s school districts have significantly decreased the daily class time spent on subjects like science, art and history as a result of the federal No Child Left Behind law’s focus on annual tests in reading and math, according to a new report released yesterday. From: Focus on 2 R’s Cuts Time for the Rest, Report Says -New York Times July 2007

There is a crisis in education. This state of crisis in the schools is not new. The minority populations have felt this for a very long time. In 1972 I began to chronicle the events in the school as parent involvement began to become an issue. And now in retrospect, I can see that the idea of public education as big business and its failure to produce a marketable product is not new; nor is the inability of our students to pick up the ladder of social and economic mobility which rests horizontally at the base of all walls that surround the inner-city.

In 1964 Martin Luther King warned us about partially educating youth in the following statement: “huge masses are left handicapped in the shadows of ignorance and submerged in second class status.”

But the crisis continued in 2006.
“We are told of one stunning educational success after another with ever more children passing the standardized tests. But in reality, the city’s public school students, particularly those students of color in inner city neighborhoods, are receiving a less than quality education.” EDUCATION PLANNING COUNCIL OF HARLEM/NY July 2006

“The system still fails to educate its African American and Latino students to the degree that they are ill-equipped to compete, academically and intellectually, with children of other racial and ethnic groups, attending schools in other neighborhoods. Our children are graduating at too low a percentage, we can also say poorly prepared for the challenges of higher education and fulfilling, lucrative new millennium careers.”EDUCATION PLANNING COUNCIL OF HARLEM/NY July 2006

These statements are not new. Our youth are in crisis. And the educational system is in crisis. This means that we need to look for ways to end the cycle of failure which is systemic throughout the impoverished inner city communities. Everyone should be involved in the process of ameliorating this situation. If not, that is the problem.

Since one size does not fit all, we should certainly try to look at exemplary programs for our schools which will work. Of course there are success stories whenever these programs work and enable students to reach their academic potential. Nevertheless, we are constantly assessing the progress of students and tailoring instruction to meet their needs. The hours spent by effective teachers are incalculable. But at least as educators we try because we are dealing with human lives.We try because the alternative of not trying is too costly as prisons await those children who have failed to become productive citizens. We try because the school to prison pipeline is a reality for far too many of our students as police in our schools takeover the role once reserved for teachers and administrators.

Educators in NYC public schools, know that smaller class size is a priority; adequate resources are a priority; staff development is a priority; and parent participation is a necessity. We know that we need highly qualified teachers, paraprofessionals, social workers, guidance counselors, psychologists,mentors, administrators, and union leaders. Surely, the schools that have the aforementioned cadre of professionals are fortunate.

However, it is unfortunate that NYC has left parents and teachers out of the decision making process for too long. However, because of the UFT political action, parents and teachers have ever stopped advocating for children in City Hall, in Albany and in Washington, DC. Therefore, I applaud any positive effort that is being made on behalf of children in NYC. Certainly, we have a long way to go. But we must pull out all stops to make this broken and pauperized system work.

The NYC Public School System was once a viable force for its earliest immigrants, like Henry Kissinger, who attended George Washington High School at night and worked in a shaving-brush factory during the day. Today, the NYC Public Schools must work for all of its students, again. Arthur Eisenberg is right: “The state must seek to break the cycle of discrimination and disadvantage”. Certainly, the future of America,as a strong nation, depends on it.

vishnuprasath said...

Education is a must for everyone, only then a person will communicate and face problems easily in all aspects. Plenty of jobs openings are there but it is meant only for the right candidate, its the right time to develop new skills to become one of the right person what the company/organization expects.