105 Peavey Rd, Ste 116
Chaska, MN 646-0646
October 20, 2003
House K-12 Education Finance Committee
April 14, 2003
Karen R. Effrem, MD
Maple River Education Coalition PAC
"In the long run, cognitive and socioemotional test scores of former Head Start students do not remain superior to those of disadvantaged children who did not attend Head Start." -Ruth McKey et al., "The Impact of Head Start on Children, Families, and Communities," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS 85-31193, June 1985, Executive Summary, p. 1.
"Once the children enter school there is little difference between the scores of Head Start and control children. . . . Findings for the individual cognitive measures--intelligence, readiness and achievement--reflect the same trends as the global measure. . . . By the end of the second year there are no educationally meaningful differences on any of the measures." -Ibid, pp. 1-24
"The body of research on current Head Start is insufficient to draw conclusions about the impact of the national program." -"Head Start," GAO review of over 600 citations, manuscripts, and studies, 1997
This is not the first time universal preschool education has been proposed. . . . Then, as now, the arguments in favor of preschool education were that it would reduce school failure, lower dropout rates, increase test scores, and produce a generation of more competent high school graduates. . . . Preschool education will achieve none of these results... We simply cannot inoculate children in one year against the ravages of a life of depravation." -Edward Ziglar, co-founder of Head Start and director of the Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University, Formal Schooling for Four-Year-Olds? No" in Early Schooling: the National Debate, ed. Sharon L. Kagan and Edward F. Zigler (New Haven, Conn.:Yale University Press, 1987)
"No large-scale studies have examined the effects of Minnesota's Head Start program on its participants." - Joel Alter, Judy Randall, and Leah Goldstein, The Early Childhood Programs, Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor, report 01-01, January 12, 2001
"Fade out" is important to any discussion of universal preschool because it means that early intervention may be virtually irrelevant to how a child turns out in adolescence or early adulthood." - Darcy Olson, entitlements policy analyst for the Cato Institute, UNIVERSAL PRESCHOOL IS NO GOLDEN TICKET: Why Government Should Not Enter the Preschool Business, 2/9/99,
PERRY PRESCHOOL PROJECT
[The Perry sample] was not only nonrepresentative of children in general; there is some doubt that it was representative of even the bulk of economically disadvantaged children. . . . The Perry Project poses a number of methodological difficulties. . . . Children had to have a parent at home during the day, resulting in a significant difference between control and intervention groups on the variable of maternal employment . . .[and] assignment to experimental and control groups was not wholly random. -Ziglar, pp.30-31 as quoted in Olson, p. 13
"First, in more than 40 years, no other program or study has produced results as dramatic as those found for Perry. (Ron Haskins, ‘Beyond Metaphor: The Efficacy of Early Childhood Education,’ American Psychologist 44, no 2
[February 1989: 279). That suggests that there may have been unique conditions at the Perry Preschool that simply cannot be duplicated...Second, benefits were obtained only for severely disadvantaged children at risk of "retarded intellectual functioning"; it is simply inappropriate to generalize the effects of Perry to all children...Third, Perry children may have outperformed children in the control group, but they still fared poorly compared with mainstream children. For example, nearly one-third of participating children dropped out of high school, nearly one-third of the children were arrested, and three of five participating children received welfare assistance as adults.67 That has led many researchers to be more level-headed about the likely effects of early intervention: ‘Policymakers should not assume that the widespread enrollment of low-income children and families in early childhood programs will enable children living in poverty to perform later in school and life at the levels reached by more advantaged [mainstream] children.’ (Deanna S. Gomby et al., "Long-Term Outcomes of Early Childhood Programs: Analysis and Recommendations," in The Future of Children 5, no. 3 (Winter 1995): 14.)... Finally, Perry differed significantly from regular preschool programs or what we could expect to see in universal preschool programs. According to Zigler, ‘It is very unlikely that a preschool program mounted in the typical public school will be of the quality represented by the Perry Preschool Project.’" -Olson, pp. 13-14
The Abecedarian Project has received a fair share of criticism, most notably from Herman H. Spitz, former director of the Research Department at the E. R. Johnstone Training and Research Center in Bordentown, New Jersey.
Spitz was concerned that the project personnel presented certain results in ways that bias the findings in favor of Abecedarian. For example, by combining the IQ findings of the four cohorts studied, the researchers concluded that the intervention raised IQ. However, they neglected to report that scores improved only for two of the four groups. In fact, for the third and fourth cohorts, the experimental group actually lost 3.68 IQ points more than did the control group, providing no support for the efficacy of the intervention. (Spitz, "Does the Carolina Abecedarian Early Intervention Project Prevent Sociocultural Mental Retardation? pp. 228-29). -Olson pp. 15-16
"For these children, a 4.6-point improvement was approximately a 5 percent increase in measured intelligence, an increase hardly noticeable in the classroom or on the job." -John Bruer, president, James S. McDonnell Neurosciences Institute, The Myth of the First Three Years, The Free Press, New York, 1999, p. 165
"On the other hand, in their statistical analyses [of Abecedarian], Ramey and Campbell also found that the mother’s IQ was a more powerful factor in explaining a child’s performance than was participation in the program." -Bruer, p. 166
"In the Abecedarian Project, children in the preschool program had IQs 4 to 5 points higher than the children in the control group at ages 12 to 15. Nonetheless, the early enrichment did not result in these children reaching IQ levels comparable to middle-class children in the community, nor did they reach the national average IQ of 100." -Bruer, p. 171
"To summarize, then, no empirical evidence supports the claims that universal preschool will reduce the number of children who will perform poorly in school, become teenage parents, commit criminal acts, or depend on welfare. Although some projects have had meaningful short-term effects on disadvantaged children's cognitive ability, grade retention, and special education placement, those benefits are short-lived. At the same time, most interventions have concentrated on disadvantaged children, so there is no evidence for universal replicability. In fact, a large body of evidence shows that preschool can have a negative impact on middle-income children." - Olson, p.17
Anti-bias Curriculum> - Tools for Empowering Young Children (Derman-Sparkes, NAEYC, Washington, D.C., 1989)
"Kay sets up...a 'witch-healer' table, where the children can make their own potions." (p. 9)
"And if the hypothetical Indians who participated in that hypothetical feast thought all was well and were thankful in the expectation of a peaceful future, they were sadly mistaken." (pp. 87-88)
Definition of "Homophobia: A fear and hatred of gay men and lesbians backed up by institutional policies and power that discriminate against them." (p. 3)
"...the purpose of these activities is to enable preschoolers to develop a clear, healthy sex identity through understanding that their being a girl or boy depends on their anatomy, not on what they like to do." (p. 53)
"Make copies of an outline of a body as drawn by a preschooler, and in small groups, ask children to fill in all the body parts, and to show if the person is a girl or boy." (p. 53)
Activism with Young Children:
"Young children have an impressive capacity for learning how to be activists if adults provide activities that are relevant and developmentally appropriate." (;. 77)
"Instead of one superhuman figure (usually a white male) righting wrongs all by himself, activism activities teach that real people, adults and children, make life better by working together." (p. 79)
That chapter on activism inspired an entire book called That's not Fair! - A Teacher's Guide to Activism with Young Children, which is also distributed by NAEYC. (Pelo and Davidson, Redleaf Press, St. Paul, MN, 2000)
One part of the curriculum describes a teacher reading books to the children in order to "bring up big issues, issues that provoke debate, discussion, and often, activism project."
Another part of the book describes what happens when a teacher is out on a walk with the children and sees the Blue Angels preparing for an air show. She tells the children that they are bombing planes and then has them return to school and write their feelings regarding what they saw. Here is a sample of what they wrote (p. 106):
"For the most part, brain research does not offer clear evidence about the right time to begin programmatic interventions in young children’s lives or the types of care and instruction that should be provided." - Joel Alter, Judy Randall, and Leah Goldstein, The Early Childhood Programs, Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor, report 01-01, January 12, 2001, p. 72
"...it may be useful to question the simplistic view that the brain becomes unbendable and increasingly difficult to modify after the first few years. Although clearly much of brain development occurs late in gestation through the first few years of postnatal life, the brain is far from set in its trajectory, even at the end of adolescence." -C.A. Nelson and F.E. Bloom, "Child Development and Neuroscience," Child Development 68 (5):983, 1997 as quoted in John Bruer, The Myth of the First Three Years, The Free Press division of Simon and Schuster, New York, 1999, p. 23
"But there is already plenty of evidence that the biggest obstacle to learning is the belief that one cannot learn. By encouraging parents and teachers to accept this self-fulfilling prophecy, your story with its imagery of windows of opportunity slamming shut, may well do more to stunt children's futures than any deficiencies in their early upbringing. So far as we know, it is never too late for a child to get on the path to learning." - Dr. Seymour Pappert, Lego Professor of Learning Research at MIT, and Dr. Daniel Dennett, Director of the Tufts University Center for Cognitive Studies (Newsweek, 3/11/96, p.15)
"Assertions that the die has been cast by the time the child enters school are not supported by neuroscience evidence and can create unwarranted pessimism about the potential efficacy of interventions that are initiated after the preschool years." - Jack Schonkoff and Deborah Phillips, ed., From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development, National Academy Press, 2000, p. 216
"There is quite a mystique in our culture about the importance of early intervention, [yet] there is no evidence [for it] whatever." - Sandra Scarr, "Developmental Theories for the 1990s: Development and Individual Differences," Child Development 63, no. 1 (February 1992): 1516.
"What neuroscientists know about synaptogenesis does not support a claim that zero to three is a critical period for humans. ... Finally, there is no evidence, or even the suggestion, that specific kinds of learning experiences or early childhood environments influence the rate, duration, or outcome of synaptogenesis and synaptic pruning." - John Bruer, "Education and the Brain: A Bridge too Far," Education Researcher, November, 1997
"Evaluations of the School Readiness Program have not provided definitive evidence of its effects. The department has sometimes declared that School Readiness has a positive impact without acknowledging other possible explanations for the results of its evaluations." - Joel Alter, Judy Randall, and Leah Goldstein, The Early Childhood Programs, Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor, report 01-01, January 12, 2001
It's also in the early years when American students are most competitive internationally. Consider France, England, Denmark, Spain and Belgium where more than 90 percent of 4-year-olds attend public preschools. International tests show that by age 9, when the benefits of preschool should be most apparent, American children outscore nearly all of their universally preschooled peers on tests of reading, math, and science." -National Center of Education Statistics, "Elementary and Secondary Education: An International Perspective," Department of Education, March, 2000, pp. 50-56 as quoted by Olsen, Cato Institute, in Human Events, 9/1/2000
"In other words, preschool conferred no apparent gains on participating children. Reports also show that GKAP scores are essentially the same as they were before the adoption of universal preschool. Georgia State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko expressed the state’s disappointment, saying, ‘The only message you can get from it is that our kindergarten non-ready rate is the same, regardless of what we do.'" - James Salzer, "School Readiness the Same for Tots; Results Unchanged Despite Pre-K," The Florida Times-Union, November 1, 1999.
EFFECTS OF CHILD CARE/PRESCHOOL ON CHILDREN:
"Children who experience long hours of child care over the first four years of life are more at risk for showing behavior problems, particularly aggression. Not only were these children more likely to engage in assertive, defiant, and even disobedient activities, but they were also more likely to bully, fight with, or act mean to other children." - The NICHD Early Child Care Research Network as quoted on the Society for Research on Child Development website at http://www.srcd.org/pp1.html*******
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