Early Development Research Flawed

Posted on February 09, 2003 | Type: In the News | Author: Ross Groen
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Normally a balanced arbiter of news, the Tribune unfortunately has a blind spot for early education research, as seen most recently in Cece Todd's story "GOP plan eliminates funding for early childhood programs," (Jan. 29) and the editorial "Business sense: Expanding access to preschool would be good for Arizona's future" (Jan. 19).

Todd writes, "Research shows children's earliest years determine whether they will succeed in school and life." According to "Growing Arizona," a key report feeding the Tribune's pro-state daycare agenda, "90 percent of a child's brain development occurs between birth and age three." Such research would seem to argue for putting certified teachers in hospital delivery rooms.

Fortunately, children are wired for lifelong learning, and the "all or nothing" notion is based on bad science. According to Dr. John T. Bruer, education expert and author of "The Myth of the First Three Years, Parents have been sold a bill of goods (about early childhood brain development) that is highly destructive because it overemphasizes infant and toddler nurturing to the detriment of long-term parental and educational responsibilities."

Moreover, the Tribune's reporting ignores empirical research showing that more than 9 out of 10 children enter kindergarten in great shape. U.S. Department of Education statistics show that 94 percent of kindergartners can recognize shapes and numbers and 92 percent arrive eager to learn.

Proponents of taxpayer-subsidized day care like to frame this issue as an either/or situation. Either you support taxpayer funding, or you are against children. That is preposterous: We are all for the well-being of children. But state-funded programs are neither necessary, nor sufficient, to achieve that end.

--Ross Groen, Education Policy Researcher, Goldwater Institute, Phoenix

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