Nina Alvarez’s Fields of Promise follows Mireya and her family from California, to Oregon. While her Mexican immigrant parents pick berries, Mireya attends bilingual preschool at Migrant Head Start.
Black preschoolers are far more likely to be suspended, according to federal data, mirroring the harsher discipline they’re likely to experience in K-12 schools.
A new Yale study concluded that white and black preschool teachers expect trouble from black boys, reports Melinda D. Anderson in The Atlantic. However, white teachers tended to go easy on black children, while black teachers were tougher on black students.
Asked to observe video clips of children to spot “challenging behaviors,” teachers more closely observed black boys, an eye-tracking system found.
Then teachers read bout behaviors such as “difficulties napping and following instructions to blurting out answers and taunting other children,” writes Anderson.
Each vignette contained a pre-selected, stereotypical black or white boy or girl name: DeShawn, Jake, Latoya, and Emily. The participants were then asked to rate the severity of the behavioral challenges—the only difference in each vignette was the perceived race and sex of the child—and the likelihood that they would recommend suspension or expulsion.
White teachers appeared to have lower expectations of black children, finding them as a group more prone to misbehavior, “so a vignette about a black child with challenging behaviors [was] not appraised as … unusual, severe, or out of the ordinary.”
Conversely, black teachers seemed to hold black preschoolers to a higher behavioral standard; pay notably more attention to the behaviors of black boys; and recommend harsher, more exclusionary discipline.
Black parents believe they need to be tough to prepare their children for “a harsh world,” says researcher Walter Gilliam, a Yale professor. “It seems possible that the black preschool teachers may be operating under similar beliefs … that black children require harsh assessment and discipline.”
Tracking black boys more doesn’t prove “implicit bias,” argues Kay Hymowitz of City Journal. Nobody says teachers have “implicit bias” against boys, even though they track them much more than girls, she adds.
BTW, I first heard “implicit bias” from Hillary Clinton in the first debate. Since then, I’ve heard it multiple times a day. I miss plain old “bias.”
The kindergarten readiness gap seems to be narrowing, according to new research. Children starting kindergarten are better prepared than in the past — and students from low-income families and Hispanics are catching up, reports Ed Week‘s Inside School Research.
Poor students kept their gains at least through 4th grade, according to reading and math results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, but the gaps did not continue to close after children entered school, (researcher Sean) Reardon noted.
Lower-income, less-educated parents are doing more to prepare their children for school, researchers concluded.
“Parents are more likely to report reading to their kids, playing with their kids, taking them on outings to the library or the zoo,” said Daphna Bassok, a University of Virginia education professor.
Head Start has long-term benefits , according to an analysis by Brookings’ Hamilton Project.
Head Start participants are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, and receive a post-secondary degree or certification, the study found.
As adults, they’re more likely to use “positive parenting” practices with their children.
Especially for black children, “Head Start also causes social, emotional, and behavioral development in participants that are evident in adulthood measures of self-control, self-esteem and positive parenting.”
Head Start participants were compared with siblings who attended other preschool programs or none at all.
The analysis suggests that the alternative to Head Start is a very bad preschool, writes Kevin Drum in Mother Jones. “Those green bars . . . show Head Start having a bigger effect compared to other preschools than it does compared to no preschool at all. That can only happen if the other preschools were collectively worse than doing nothing.”
Of course, “doing nothing” means spending time with Mom or Grandma. It’s not surprising that low-income mothers often have to settle for low-quality preschools.
“Children who attended Head Start had higher test scores on state math tests” in eighth grade, says Deborah Phillips, a Georgetown psychology professor. “They were less likely to be retained and less likely to display chronic absenteeism.”
Latino students, including those from Spanish-speaking homes, showed gains. However, black boys did not benefit and there were no gains in reading.
Boston’s preschool success is “percolating up” to higher grades, writes Lillian Mongeau.
KinderPrep, a summer program in Santa Monica, primarily enrolls kids headed for private school.
Nearly all kids in this demographic have attended one or two years of preschool. But director Elizabeth Fraley insists they need to prepare for today’s academic kindergartens, where there will be “no play.”
In addition to the group session, some of the children “had been signed up for separate one-on-one sessions that cost $120 to $200 an hour,” reports Kohli.
“At snack time, the children could partake in organic fruit, gummies and aloe water provided by the program, though many brought their own food because of dietary restrictions,” writes Kohli. “Fraley said she’s seen paté.”
Kindergarten isn’t just the new first grade, according to promoters of school “readiness.” It seems to be the new college — only with less play.
In my view, some parents are suckers. They read a carefully chosen book every night, feed the kids organic kale, quinoa and edamame salads and pay for the best preschool. Then they think little Aidan needs a kinder boot camp — and perhaps a $200-an-hour tutorial — so he can be the best, darn line walker and month identifier in kindergarten.
My younger (step)granddaughter will start kindergarten in a few weeks. She has a sophisticated vocabulary, a flair for math — and a lot to learn about self-control. She has time.
Kinders also are supposed to start the year being able to “cut with scissors correctly” and follow two- to three-step instructions.
My father almost flunked kindergarten because he couldn’t cut with scissors. He didn’t have the coordination for it, even by the end of kindergarten. However, he could read, so they passed him along. My brothers had similar coordination issues that made art projects an ordeal.
I learned to read in kindergarten — my sister, who was in first grade taught me — but it was easier back in the 1950s . We only had 26 letters.
In 1998, before No Child Left Behind put the focus on achievement gaps, 31 percent of kindergarten teachers expected their students to learn to read that year. By 2010, 80 percent believed kindergarteners should be learning to read.
Seventy-three percent of kindergarteners took a standardized test in 2010. That’s more than first graders took in 1998. Kindergarten teachers weren’t asked about testing. writes NPR’s Anya Kamenetz.
Fewer teachers offer music and art every day and there were “notable drops in teachers saying they covered science topics like dinosaurs and outer space, which kids this age find really engaging,” says Daphna Bassok, the study’s lead author.
There were large, double-digit decreases in the percentages of teachers who said their classrooms had areas for dress-up, a water or sand table, an art area or a science/nature area. And teachers who offered at least an hour a day of student-driven activities dropped from 54 to 40 percent. At the same time, whole-class, teacher-led instruction rose along with the use of textbooks and worksheets.
However, children are more likely to have recess and just as likely to have a P.E. class.
With the sharp rise in preschool enrollment, teachers may expect more from students, writes Kamenetz. That leads to a sort of academic arms race: 1 in 5 kindergarteners is already six years old as more parents may wait a year to enroll a child who’s not ready for reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic and testing.
Preschoolers were shown a split screen that flashed blue dots on one side and yellow dots on the other. They were asked to identify the side with more dots.
. . . kids who participated in the dots activity performed better in a follow-up test of more discrete math skills assessed with questions like: ”Count backward starting from 10.” Or ”Joey has 1 block and gets 2 more; how many does he have altogether?”
Researchers also assessed the children’s ability to say which of two numbers is bigger and to read and write numerals.
“Among the children who practiced with the dots, those who practiced with easier dot problems first and then progressed to harder ones did even better than kids who did the problems in a random order,” writes Lilian Mongeau in Education Week.