Early intervention programs such as 4-year-old kindergarten can be life-altering, but they have to [be] done properly. Done properly means providing actual teachers who put together smart lesson plans to stimulate the growing brain, rather than simply providing glorified baby sitters whose main job is to provide a place to keep the kids for several hours a day.
And while poverty alone is a strong predictor of poor school results, living and going to school surrounded by lots of other poor children — in what are called concentrations of poverty — is a separate risk factor above and beyond that.
We should applaud the recognition of these lessons, along with the nuance and the important and unqualified confronting of the double and even triple weight of poverty on children’s lives and learning.
But the third lesson not noted here is that 4K or any in-school program alone will remain insufficient without broader social reform that addresses directly childhood and family poverty—health care, food security, work security, living wages.
The incessant refusal to couple social and educational reform—as well as the bankrupt rhetoric of posing poverty as only an excuse—will always insure that even the best education reform efforts will appear ineffective, inadequate.
Teaching, learning, and the lives of children are all very complex; our efforts at reform must be equally complex and wide-reaching.