At the beginning of Chapter 6 the book talks about the first 36 months in a child's life and how important it is. I've had older teachers tell me that a good kindergarten teacher can tell you how successful a child will be w/a very high accuracy rate. (No scientific data to back it up though!) However, we've all had (or have) kids in school and we are not the least bit shocked when we see their name in the police blotter. Or when they graduate at the top of their high school or college class.
The book speaks of a "groundswell" among politicians and policy makers for universal prekindergarten as a means to boost chances of children who would otherwise be unprepared for school. It mentions three areas to target: the creating an intellectual capacity, cultivating a strong positive self-esteem, and stimulating intellectual curiosity. When 98% of our educational dollars are spent after the all-important early years when basic intellectual capacities have been determined, it seems we could allocate at least some funds to this segment of our population. In the long run I think it would benefit us as teachers because if students do well early in school, they are more likely to do well when they get to us.
We have always had "Head Start" and similar programs, but maybe we need to direct even more dollars at this "problem." As more and more parents go to work earlier and earlier in their child's developmental years and therefore have less and less to do w/their kids, how can we not afford this? To me it is just another unfortunate step away from the family as the core of our society, but we need to address this issue. As I'm sure all of you will agree, I see more and more students less prepared to succeed in my classroom. Whatever we can do to stem this pattern would be money well-spent in my opinion!