Archives for May 2013

Poverty as a Childhood Disease

Dr. Perry Klass in the NY Times Health and Science Section:

…Dr. Benard P. Dreyer, professor of pediatrics at New York University and a past president of the Academic Pediatric Association, called on pediatricians to take on poverty as a serious underlying threat to children’s health. He was prompted, he told me later, by the widening disparities between rich and poor, and the gathering weight of evidence about the importance of early childhood, and the ways that deprivation and stress in the early years of life can reduce the chances of educational and life success.

“After the first three, four, five years of life, if you have neglected that child’s brain development, you can’t go back,” he said. In the middle of the 20th century, our society made a decision to take care of the elderly, once the poorest demographic group in the United States. Now, with Medicare and Social Security, only 9 percent of older people live in poverty. Children are now our poorest group, with almost 25 percent of children under 5 living below the federal poverty level.

Early Childhood Education is the Best Return on Investment

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) in The Hill:

We know that learning starts at birth, and the preparation for learning starts before birth. Eighty percent of a child’s brain develops between birth and the age of 3, with much of the child’s intellect, personality and skills developed before he or she begins kindergarten. A solid initial investment in young children will save us billions in future spending on remedial education, criminal justice, health and welfare programs.

Harkin is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.

Dayna Straehley writes in The Press Enterprise:

A comprehensive approach to skills is needed because fragmented approaches don’t work [Heckman] said.
And national policy debates have ignored what he said are two essential ideas:

1. Parents matter a lot, not only in supporting their kids in school but also getting them ready for school, and

2. Success in life depends on a lot more than your scores on standardized tests.

Those soft skills – like character, self-control, perseverance, being able to plan tasks and set goals, and getting along with others – that lead to success should begin well before kindergarten.

Want numbers?

The rate of return on investment in early childhood education is 7 percent to 10 percent per annum, not counting improved health, which is another benefit that Heckman said he hopes to quantify in the next six months.

It’s Always Best to Start at the Beginning

Our own Tony Accetta and Jodie Deshmukh in the Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle:

President Obama’s recent State of the Union address focused the nation on the urgent need to develop solutions that address the growing achievement gap. While “pre-school for all,” the most-talked about solution, may very well be an important step in leveling the playing field for low-income students, most experts agree that we can and should begin even earlier — at birth. Research on the brain has proven that most of the brain’s development takes place during the first three years of life, when vital neural connections are made in response to a child’s environment. Infants less than 30 days old have been shown to be making rational judgments and exercising discretion in their preferences. The notion that a baby is just a baby is a disservice to the baby and is a waste of important and valuable time.

Fortunately for Coloradans, a program exists that focuses solely on the early years: Bright Beginnings.

Also mentioned is the 17th Annual Brad & Erna Butler Memorial Golf Tournament public fundraiser on Monday, June 03, 2013.