Thursday, August 19th, 2010
New York Times op-ed
In today’s New York Times, an op-ed I wrote about the debate over funding for President Obama’s Promise Neighborhoods initiative:
So, at this moment of uncertainty and experimentation, should the federal government wait, as critics of Promise Neighborhoods suggest, until ironclad evidence for one big solution exists?
Or should it create a competitive research-and-development marketplace to make bets on innovations, the way the government did during the space race and in the early days of the Internet, and allow the most successful strategies to rise to the top?
2 comments on “New York Times op-ed”
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Most of the success of the KIPP schools is due to their extended time and extended school year. The recent Time magazine article about Summer Vacation asserts that this time away from school accounts for about 70 percent of the achievement gap. Chapter 9 in Malocolm Gladwell’s Outliers analyzes the success of the KIPP schools and determined that the extended time is the key. The goal should not be to have more KIPP schools, but rather to fund public schools that implement these reforms.
As a reasearcher in the area of early childhood intellectual development, it seems important to comment on the “overall” impact of Head Start in the 8/20 Op-Ed.
When first grade students who make gains in Head Start do not
continue to gain, the issue suggests that removing stimulation–going
from Head Start to an ordinary and often less stimulative environment– may be the issue. We know today that IQ is unstable. The brain requires appropriate
stimulation to build neural networks for literacy and numeracy. The Head Start environment and other early interventions do that, but once removed from that learning situation, the brain is stymied. Low SES children, the research indicates, may not get this stimulation at home. The brain tries to build the right structures, but it may not be able to make up for what is missing.
Here’s a thought experiment we will never do: Let’s take a middle class child, raise it in a low SES environment, watch it gain IQ in Head Start, and watch his/her IQ fall off (what critics call “fadeout”) post Head Start in a less stimulative setting. Any guess about the outcome?
It is time to bring the science of what is known to the policy. Young children require continuing stimulation to be able to use educational experiences. This is what KIPP and the Harlem Children’s Zone do. It works.
Guest Lecturer, Neuroscience and Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education