Monday, January 5, 2015

Education is complicated...

Free Pre-K doesn't make it less so...

Obviously, the immediate benefits of intensive support are clear.  But this story does not discuss (likely because there really isn't so much available to "do" about it) the lack of subsequent family or institutional support down the years.   An early foundation is critical, but on-going support of the work to build on that foundation is also required.  

This is why the whole "get them reading by 3rd grade or they'll have trouble forever" discussion tends to miss the point.  The answer isn't to give them all kinds of extra support to read by 3rd grade (then withdraw that extra support, thinking that everything is now fine).  It's not that children's brains couldn't learn after 3rd grade, but that the engagement, support, involvement by adults in learning activities outside of school (reading, talking, singing, asking, wondering, solving, etc....) that was missing before third grade will likley still be missing after third grade.  And institutional school--perhaps even with the extra support programs--just isn't enough to make up all the deficits. 

In other words, a student's inability to read by 3rd grade might (likely) be an indication of a deeper systemic problem in that student's academic environment.  Extra support to get to reading is treating a symptom rather than the root issue.  On-going treatment of symptoms isn't really a long-term strategy.

The problem is that learning is a complicated and variable, and programmatic responses tend to focus on the effects of the program, measured more in the short-term than long.

1 comment:

jeffey60 said...

That's the problem with institutions, epecially government institutions. Programs and how individuals are counted is the most important attribute. The article mentioned that the program would be difficult to cut, because parents like the idea of another option for child care. Basically, schools have become child care centers accross the country. In this case expensive child care centers.