Mar 5, 2018
ELW

The National Pulse: Progressives Renew Push for Nanny State Programs — Despite Poor Results

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Home Visiting to the Rescue?

Because the mountain of evidence continues to show that preschool is not particularly effective, progressives in both parties are pushing home visiting programs to replace them. The author of a recent piece at the Fordham Institute blog used the cloying and inaccurate “parable” of rescuers (the education reformers) using home visiting to pluck vulnerable children whose family poverty had caused them to be thrown into a river of neurodevelopmental delay, word gaps, achievement gaps, and other horrors that can only be fixed by sending bureaucrats into the home to tell their benighted parents how to raise them.

Here are several reasons why this analogy and analysis are incorrect:

  • Experts in neuropsychology and neurodevelopment admit that there is no 0-3 or 0-5 critical period beyond which it is too late to help vulnerable children. Here is an inconvenient truth from a report considered foundational to the pro-preschool and pro-home visiting camp, especially the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, called “Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development”:

    Available evidence indicates that such critical periods are more exceptional than typical in human development. Assertions that the die has been cast by the time the child enters school are not supported by neuroscience evidence and can create unwarranted pessimism about the potential efficacy of interventions that are initiated after the preschool years.

  • As shown by the Tennessee study, The Atlantic article, and other research, a focus on kindergarten readiness in preschool is not only not helpful, but also actually harmful to longer-term academic achievement. The Atlantic article mentions Finland’s approach of not starting formal reading instruction until age 7 and instead focusing on making sure that “children have heard and listened … They have spoken and been spoken to, people have discussed [things] with them … They have asked questions and received answers.” The American system, focused on pushing academics in kindergarten and preschool due to Common Core, is skewed and harmful — as admitted by hundreds of early childhood experts.
  • Home visiting programs in general are not effective, and this is especially true of the Parent-Child Home Program mentioned in the “parable” article. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has shown in repeated reviews that this program is not helpful in improving child development or school readiness — even if improving school readiness were a good thing to do — and that the program as of 2017 does not even meet HHS criteria as a program rigorous enough to review.
  • Home visiting programs do not deal with the root cause of the problem they are trying to solve: single parent families. Poverty is merely a proxy measure for the enormous and tragic consequences of this government-created crisis. Sending bureaucrats into the home will never solve all of the horrific consequences of growing up without two parents replete in the social service literature.

Read the full article HERE.

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