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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

nature vs nurture

From "In Gaps at School, Weighing Family Life" by Michael Winerip, New York Times, December 9, 2007.

The E.T.S. researchers took four variables that are beyond the control of schools: The percentage of children living with one parent; the percentage of eighth graders absent from school at least three times a month; the percentage of children 5 or younger whose parents read to them daily, and the percentage of eighth graders who watch five or more hours of TV a day. Using just those four variables, the researchers were able to predict each state’s results on the federal eighth-grade reading test with impressive accuracy.

“Together, these four factors account for about two-thirds of the large differences among states,” the report said. In other words, the states that had the lowest test scores tended to be those that had the highest percentages of children from single-parent families, eighth graders watching lots of TV and eighth graders absent a lot, and the lowest percentages of young children being read to regularly, regardless of what was going on in their schools.

Which gets to the heart of the report: by the time these children start school at age 5, they are far behind, and tend to stay behind all through high school. There is no evidence that the gap is being closed.

This article speaks volumes and provides great fodder for legislators to consider especially as they review NCLB. schools cant solve the problem, that is what this article about the research from ETS says. we have to get to the children before they are 5. that will require the government to create and to establish programs in communities to assist all the people. the report shows it isnt about nature, it is about nurture. education in this country has been a bigoted enterprise. communities with the money have segregated themselves from those without the money and we know the results. we have always known the results. now ETS is speaking the truth that too many were afraid to admit or address. it is about money, pure and simple. those with money and financial resources succeed in school or have a better chance. the report states that those who are behind by 5 will always be behind. why? for the reasons stated in the report. so the government needs to step in with lots and lots of money to assist.

i know, throwing lots of money at the problem of education will draw ire from many, especially from those who spend lots of money on their own children and private school. in order for us to solve the problem we need to replicate what the monied people do. i found a website that addresses this idea of hurling money and it is intelligent.

we in the schools are doing everything we can do. we have school before school, after school, during the summer, and even during recess. we know this doesnt work and yet we are told to do it. ETS has just told us all.

why are some schools successful? well, they have children who were read to them. they come from affluent enough homes that allow for some activities beyond the television for entertainment. most of the parents themselves are college educated which gives them the ability to help their young children. they have the money for proper nutrition and a healthy environment. these schools are successful because they get the children at 5 already 5. the other schools do not get complete 5 year olds.

i think it is time we face reality and do the right thing for all of our children, not just the privileged classes. this requires that the government direct money that goes in the wrong areas like fighting wars to educating our children so they will know how to negotiate, know what diplomacy is, and know how to ask questions so they can solve problems for the betterment of humankind.

we know it is not about nature when it comes to education; it is about nurture. so lets nurture our children america.

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