Posts Tagged ‘media’

If you’re like us and you’re a huge David Blatt fan* (and who isn’t?), you can catch him on the Studio Tulsa replay tonight at 7:30pm on Tulsa’s NPR affiliate, KWGS 89.5.  David will be talking up OK Policy Institute and what Oklahoma can expect to get from the stimulus package. So if you’re sitting in your rocker tonight at 7:30 and just can’t find anything on the radio, tune in! (They should have the show archived on their website in the next day or two.)

P.S.: By the way, alerting us to this appearance would have been a great use for OPI’s new twitter.

P.P.S.: Did you know that David Blatt is not only a pretty great policy analyst, but he also coaches the Russian national basketball team, too?

*Consider this post Blatt bait.


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I started to write a piece decrying the latest op-ed explaining why early education spending is misguided and wasteful. On Sunday, two researchers at the conservative American Enterprise Institute wrote an op-ed in the New York Times opposing the expansion of Head Start funding in the House-passed version of the stimulus bill.

But are they really slamming early education?

The authors’ (Douglas Besharov and Douglas Call) main contention is this:

Head Start and similar prekindergarten programs could truly help disadvantaged children, but many studies have shown that Head Start, as it is now managed, is failing them.

Sara Mead pushes back in the excellent Early Ed Watch blog, stating, “Head Start isn’t really as ineffective as [they] claim.” She’s right, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement of the program. But Besharov and Call are also right: programs like Head Start “could truly help disadvantaged children.” They should get some credit for making this argument rather than the more polemical arguments advanced by other pre-K critics: they are acknowledging that early childhood education does, in fact, offer the promise of increased achievement for at-risk children. (more…)

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So reports the Gray Lady:

After years of what they call backhanded treatment by the Bush administration, whose focus has been on the testing of older children, many advocates are atremble with anticipation over Mr. Obama’s espousal of early childhood education.

Actually the article turns out to be a pretty nice summation of the case for high quality early childhood education, after getting through the early silliness of words like “atremble.”

The article covers a lot of ground, from summarizing the research (“each dollar devoted to the nurturing of young children can eliminate the need for far greater government spending on remedial education, teenage pregnancy and prisons”), the current fragmentation of the pre-K system (“California has 22 different funding streams for child care and preschool, and that mirrors the crazy labyrinth of funding sources coming out of Washington”), the diminishing of conservative opposition, the history of universal pre-K (beginning with Georgia, followed shortly by Oklahoma), Obama’s connections to early education (his confidante Valerie Jarrett’s mother leads early childhood programs for Chicago Public Schools under its superintendant, the Education Secretary-designate Arne Duncan), and even anecdotes from an Educare center in Chicago. Reporter Sam Dillon even finds time for a mention of George Kaiser as one among three major philanthropic supporters (the others mentioned are Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s children).

Update: See also Ryan Avent, EarlyEdWatch

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Site of a former Albertson's grocery in North Tulsa, from Google Maps.The Tulsa World has an article up about recent moves by the Tulsa Development Authority to entice a new investor into replacing the grocery store formerly operated by Albertson’s, at Pine and N Peoria. This is great news, since there are no other full-size grocery stores on the north side of town – a huge nutrition barrier. The authority had required another parcel of the land to be developed by November 2009, but that requirement has been pushed back five years. Commonsensical enough, no? If you can’t keep a grocery store open in the location, it doesn’t make much sense to require a grocery store + more new development (though new development is needed).

For some reason I decided to risk my hopefulness for the area to be deflated by the inane commenters of TulsaWorld.com. What a mistake… (more…)

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Politics and Poverty Webcast

Guest Lecturer: E. J. Dionne, Washington Post columnist



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Noon ET/ 11:00 a.m. CT/ 10:00 a.m. MT/9:00 a.m. PT

Duration: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Sign up for the live audio webcast at

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People a lot smarter than me have done a good job responding to the now infamous Wall Street Journal op-ed that made a mockery of years of early childhood research. I’ve often wondered while reading the letters to the editor of many a newspaper why there is such a contrast in tone and substance between critics and advocates on any given issue:

From Sarah Urahn (Pew) and Libby Doggett’s (Pre-K Now) response in the Journal:

A summary of 123 preschool studies spanning 40 years, forthcoming in Teachers College Record, finds significant and long-lasting effects; the more rigorous the study, the larger the impacts. Few other educational reform measures have been scrutinized more intensively.

And from the opposing side:

The left has long held to the notion that parents are bad for kids. The left consistently chips away at parental authority and control — that is the ideology behind its opposition to vouchers; it’s not just about jobs.



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In case you were wondering whether the editorial and news divisions really are separate at a newspaper, the Wall Street Journal gave us a case study over the last week by running two pieces – one opinion, one news – about early childhood education. Chronologically:

Opinion: “Protect our Kids from Preschool” by Shikha Dalmia and Lisa Snell, August 22, 2008.

The authors ask: “But is strapping a backpack on all 4-year-olds and sending them to preschool good for them?” Their answer: “Not according to available evidence.”

Preschool activists at the Pew Charitable Trust and Pre-K Now — two major organizations pushing universal preschool — refuse to take this evidence seriously. The private preschool market, they insist, is just glorified day care. Not so with quality, government-funded preschools with credentialed teachers and standardized curriculum. But the results from Oklahoma and Georgia — both of which implemented universal preschool a decade or more ago — paint an equally dismal picture.

A 2006 analysis by Education Week found that Oklahoma and Georgia were among the 10 states that had made the least progress on NAEP. Oklahoma, in fact, lost ground after it embraced universal preschool: In 1992 its fourth and eighth graders tested one point above the national average in math. Now they are several points below. Ditto for reading. Georgia’s universal preschool program has made virtually no difference to its fourth-grade reading scores. And a study of Tennessee’s preschool program released just this week by the nonpartisan Strategic Research Group found no statistical difference in the performance of preschool versus nonpreschool kids on any subject after the first grade. (Emphasis mine)

Hm. That’s funny, I seem to recall reading in Science about Bill Gormley’s study (oh, and talking with him)  and learning that “children who participated in a state-funded preschool program in Tulsa, Okla., saw gains of nine months in prereading skills, seven months in prewriting skills and five months in premath skills, relative to their peers” (emphasis mine).


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