An Easier Way to Enroll in School Lunches

The Atlantic – Tajha Chappellet-Lanier

“The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has announced a new pilot program for the upcoming school year that hopes to give more children access to the National School Lunch Program. Under the program, states will use Medicaid data to find qualifying students and directly enroll them for both free and reduced-price meal programs. Under the current system, parents have to go through a cumbersome application process to access the programs, and the paperwork diminishes accessibility. “Many children who are eligible for free and reduced-lunch meals aren’t enrolled in the program—this is going to help ensure that they receive the benefits, too,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told The Washington Post.”(more)

Teaching Parenting Skills At Doctor Visits Helps Children’s Behavior

NPR – Vanessa Rancaño

“As researchers have come to understand how poverty and its stresses influence children’s brain development, they’ve begun untangling how that can lead to increased behavior problems and learning difficulties for disadvantaged kids. Rather than trying to treat those problems, NYU child development specialists Adriana Weisleder and Alan Mendelsohn want to head them off. They say they’ve found a way: Working with low-income parents when they bring babies and young children to the pediatrician. They’ve been able to reduce key obstacles to learning like hyperactivity and difficulty paying attention, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Pediatrics…The results show that a relatively cheap form of intervention works…By using pediatric checkups as a way to engage parents, the researchers say they could reach every child without burdening parents with additional transportation or logistical demands.”(more)

Poverty cannot explain America’s mediocre test scores

Thomas B. Fordham Institute – Michael J. Petrilli & Brandon Wright

“At a time when the national conversation is focused on lagging upward mobility and yawning income inequality, it is no surprise that many educators point to poverty as the explanation for American students’ mediocre test scores compared to their peers in other countries. If teachers in struggling U.S. schools taught in Finland, says Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg, they would flourish—in part because of “support from homes unchallenged by poverty.”…It’s an important question. If critics of education reform are correct that our schools are doing as well as can be expected given the economic challenges that their students face, they could also be right in saying that school reform is beside the point, misguided, or even doing more harm than good. So what does the evidence show?”(more)

America’s Mediocre Test Scores

Education Next – Michael J. Petrilli and Brandon L. Wright

“At a time when the national conversation is focused on lagging upward mobility, it is no surprise that many educators point to poverty as the explanation for mediocre test scores among U.S. students compared to those of students in other countries. If American teachers in struggling U.S. schools taught in Finland, says Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg, they would flourish, in part, because of “support from homes unchallenged by poverty.” Michael Rebell and Jessica Wolff at Columbia University’s Teachers College argue that middling test scores reflect a “poverty crisis” in the United States, not an “education crisis.” Adding union muscle to the argument, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten calls poverty “the elephant in the room” that accounts for poor student performance.”(more)

Teachers wanted: Passion a must, patience required, pay negligible

The Hechinger Report – Lillian Mongeau

“By 9 a.m. on August 19, the first day of work for teachers in Oakland, California, Kilian Betlach had already been busy for hours. Betlach, the principal of a small middle school called Elmhurst Community Prep in a neighborhood residents refer to as Deep East Oakland, had just finished a meeting about an upgrade to his school’s athletic fields. There were only three prep days before the school’s 374 students would arrive and there was still too much to do. But Betlach felt his team — 18 teachers, two administrators and a dozen support staff — was up to the challenge. Teachers had come in that morning carrying posters, dry erase markers and cans of Coke to stock their classrooms. They’d come in hoping that this year they’d master work-life balance, this year their students would feel success, this year their classes would have a lasting impact. And they came in worrying, too. They worried about broken projectors, about the apparent gas leak in the sixth-grade wing, about not getting their first paycheck until the end of September and about the things that had happened to their students over the summer that they didn’t yet know about. In Deep East Oakland, summers can be dangerous.”(more)

Why Boosting Poor Children’s Vocabulary Is Important for Public Health

The Atlantic – Emily DeRuy

“Re­search sug­gests that poor chil­dren hear about 600 words per hour, while af­flu­ent chil­dren hear 2,000. By age 4, a poor child has a listen­ing vocab­u­lary of about 3,000 words, while a wealth­i­er child wields a 20,000-word listen­ing vocab­u­lary. So it’s no sur­prise that poor chil­dren tend to enter kinder­garten already be­hind their wealth­i­er peers. But it’s not just the poverty that holds them back—it’s the lack of words. In fact, the single-best pre­dict­or of a child’s aca­dem­ic suc­cess is not par­ent­al edu­ca­tion or so­cioeco­nom­ic status, but rather the qual­ity and quantity of the words that a baby hears dur­ing his or her first three years. Those early years are crit­ic­al. By age three, 85 per­cent of neur­al con­nec­tions are formed, mean­ing it’s dif­fi­cult for a child who has heard few words to catch up to his peers once he enters the school sys­tem.”(more)