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NH Sheriff: Early childhood education can curb crime and help communities prosper

In an opinion piece in the Concord Monitor, Merrimack County Sheriff Scott Hilliard advocates for early childhood education, citing evidence that early support ultimately helps curb teen pregnancy, crime, and even drug use–a growing problem in the Granite State: (more…)

Talk to your child and good things happen – Concord Monitor editorial

There are many important initiatives in New Hampshire to support early childhood development but, so far, with no substantial support from the State.  There are several modest bills pending in the Legislature that serve to put the discussion on the plate.  Today’s lead editorial in the Concord Monitor contributes to the discussion by featuring the innovative Providence Talks program: (more…)

Guest post by Michelle Levell, School Choice New Hampshire, opposing Mandatory Universal Preschool

I had an exchange yesterday with THE REAL TEAPARTY(tm) initiated by this tweet:

You can see the rest here.  

I asked THE REAL TEAPARTY to make their case against preK in a form I could post.  Here it is.  I have asked early childhood advocates if they want to respond.  I’ll post what I get.

It turns out the whoever tweeted permission to post this didn’t have the right, or didn’t mean it, or something.  And Michelle Levell wants me to link to it rather than publish it.  Here’s the link: School Choice New Hampshire

Nicholas Kristof says important things about American education that we should listen to in New Hampshire

Even as the number of children in New Hampshire is shrinking, the number of poor children is increasing.  It isn’t up to schools alone to respond, but our schools do play an important role – first by trying to reach every child that comes in the door.

But that has to be a shared goal that the whole community and state buys into.  Kristof’s writes in the Times the Americans used to buy in but don’t seem to anymore.   (more…)

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has decided nothing about the voucher tax credit program. Why not use that money for a real public purpose?

Here’s my opinion piece on the voucher program as it has appeared in the Concord Monitor, the Portsmouth Herald, the Union Leader and (upcoming) the New Hampshire Business Review.

Before the misunderstanding spreads too far, it is important to point out what the recent New Hampshire Supreme Court decision actually said about the constitutionality of the voucher tax credit law:

Nothing.   (more…)

Project to Improve Poor Children’s Intellect Led to Better Health, Data Show –

The cognitive benefits of investments in early childhood development are well known.  Now it’s clear that there are big health benefits as well….something the New Hampshire Legislature should consider…. (more…)

Big changes for Mississippi kindergarten students: the new Common Core standards seem to be working – Hechinger Report

Maybe Mississippi is a good test of whether the new Common Core standards are “developmentally appropriate” for students from kindergarten through the second grade.  Mississippi’s standards and education have been weak and the new standards represent significantly higher expectations for both teachers and students.

They are two years down the road implementing the Common Core in grades K-2 and the balanced and reliable Hechinger Report just ran a story by Jackie Mader on how it’s going.  Here’s an excerpt (highlights added): (more…)

Are the Common Core math standards “developmentally appropriate” for Kindergarteners? It depends, as always, on who’s teaching.

Opponents say that the Common Core standards, especially the math standards, are not developmentally appropriate for Kindergarteners.

But many New Hampshire Kindergarten and early grade teachers are using the math standards successfully.  When I ask, they say that Kindergarteners can definitely achieve the goals set out in the standards, under the right conditions.  One condition is that the child is prepared – meaning that she’s attended high quality pre-K or her parents have provided a rich environment full of words and numbers.

The second requirement is that she must have access to full day kindergarten.  We know that frequently is not the case, particularly for low income students.  But it appears that, at least partly, it’s about preparation, not something inherent in a five year-old’s stage of development.  So a state’s early childhood development policies are the issue, not really the Common Core or any other standard.

“But,” many say, “5 year olds need to play and discover together.  They need social and emotional development, not academic instruction.”  This is not really a Common Core issue either.  It is a long-running debate that predates the Common Core and will probably go on for a long time.  Some schools, including many Montessori and Waldorf schools, are better at combining play and learning than others.  And some teachers are.  So there’s real pedagogy involved.  But it doesn’t appear to be an issue of what a 5 year-old is developmentally prepared to do.


“Who Says Math Has to Be Boring?” – a very interesting NYT editorial

There’s an unusual editorial in today’s New York Times.  It’s all about how to interest more kids in math.  It’s long and detailed, with numerous recommendations on which the editorial board asks for feedback.  And the paper has put in place an elaborate feedback mechanism with which to categorized respondents and their answers.  They are obviously trying to generate a real discussion and, based on the comments so far, it seems to be working: the initial comments are constructive, not polluted with the usual internet sarcasm and snark.

So give it a try.  Here, to whet your appetite, are a couple of the recommendations:

A More Flexible Curriculum


The Common Core math standards now being adopted by most states are an important effort to raise learning standards, particularly in primary and middle school, when many students begin to fall behind. They encourage the use of technology and applied thinking, moving students away from rote memorization. At the high school level, they would introduce all students to useful concepts like real-world modeling. But the standards also assume that all high school students should pursue a high-level math track, studying quadratic equations, transformational geometry and logarithms. The standards need more flexibility to ensure that they do not stand in the way of nontraditional but effective ways to learn, including career-oriented study.


N.H. Works On $37.5m Early Childhood Grant; Hopes to Improve Child Care Quality | NHPR

This is an important story from NHPR about potential support for early childhood development in New Hampshire.  It’s about a grant application the State is making to the federal government, but more than that, it’s about the challenge of providing high quality early childhood education.

It’s time to have a public conversation about state support for early childhood development in New Hampshire.  This piece is a good start.  Here’s the first couple of paragraphs, but you should definitely read the whole thing:

New Hampshire officials are working on an application for a federal Race to the Top Grant for Early Childhood Education. If the state is selected in this round, it could receive up to $37.5 million dollars to support initiatives to improve childcare and preschool programs all over the state. While there is growing interest in pre-k issues the challenges standing in the way of better or more affordable childcare are daunting.