The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Letters to the Editor

February 11, 2014

Learning key before age 3

Learning key before age 3

Editor:

Insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” A 2013 George Will column reported studies by the Cato Institute showing that economic success of children mirrors the success of parents. This means that today’s poverty babies will be tomorrow’s poverty parents.

Forget what you have heard on TV. Poverty has, in fact, been a perpetual 13.8 percent (plus/minus 1.2 percent) of Americans since 1970, including a predictable 15 percent in 2012. And, income level definition for poverty has not changed since 1959 except for cost of living.

Head Start has failed, but if you cling to pre-school as an answer, consider the 1960’s Perry Pre-school Project where 4- and 5-year-old poverty kids were specially taught by certified teachers. When Perry students reached age 27, only 65 percent had completed high school and 57 percent of Perry females had born children out of wedlock. At age 40, 28 percent had served time in jail, 32 percent of those for violent crimes, and 59 percent had received welfare: not what we need.

The real problem is that, by age 3, poverty babies hear half as many spoken words as average. One has to assume this makes the brain less susceptible to later learning; and lack of learning equals poverty.

Yet, nearly every school official, politician and political candidate continues to talk about priority in education, poverty centers, Common Core, teacher efficiency and pre-school without considering, even mentioning, learning before age 3. Unlike Will Rogers, they don’t even know what they read in the newspapers.

Ron Gore

Covington Ind.

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