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Some thoughts on the Common Core from Kentucky teachers

The Common Core standards are successful in classrooms all over the country, not just here in New Hampshire.  Here a Louisville Courier-Journal reporter conveys telling quotes from Kentucky teachers. (more…)

The importance of home visits in early childhood development, in today’s NYTimes

Kids who start behind in school tend to stay behind – and drop out.  Here’s an easy way to see it in NAEP Reading test.  Half as many lower income kids in New Hampshire are proficient at reading in the 4th grade.  By the 12th grade, The Gap is the same.

The Gap - Reading

Nicholas Kristoff writes today – Profiting From a Child’s Illiteracy – NYTimes.com – about the complexities of fighting poverty in the United States.  To tell the story, he goes to Jackson, Ky, in Central Appalachia, where my wife Mil and I spent a dozen years doing economic development and anti-poverty work.

Kristoff draws a painfully familiar and accurate picture of the challenges of fighting poverty, but also describes the painstaking early childhood development work that is so effective at closing The Gap:

Save the Children trains community members to make home visits to at-risk moms like Ms. Hurley, and help nurture the skills they need in the world’s toughest job: parenting. These visits begin in pregnancy and continue until the child is 3 years old.

I followed Courtney Trent, 22, one of these early childhood coordinators, as she visited a series of houses. She encourages the mothers (and the fathers, if they’re around) to read to the children, tell stories, talk to them, hug them. If the parents can’t read, then Ms. Trent encourages them to flip the pages on picture books and talk about what they see.

Ms. Trent brings a few books on each visit, and takes back the ones she had left the previous time. Many of the homes she visits don’t own a single children’s book.

She sat on the floor in Ms. Hurley’s living room, pulled a book out of her bag, and encouraged her to read to her 20-month-old son, Landon. Ms. Hurley said that she was never read to as a child, but she was determined to change the pattern.

(more…)