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April 18, 2009


More on the impact of poverty on the developing brain:

Poor Children's Brain Activity Resembles That of Stroke Victims, EEG Shows

One of the strengths of the above study (accepted for publication in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience) is that the children studied had "no neural damage, no prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, no neurological damage," Kishiyama said. "Yet, the prefrontal cortex is not functioning as efficiently as it should be. This difference may manifest itself in problem solving and school performance."

Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success

The majority of Oregon public school districts are not in need of reform. Those districts and their management, budgeting and staffing practices should serve as examples for Oregon's poor performing and districts that inequitably allocate human and financial resources in their buildings.

Poverty, brain and other studies have shown for years that there is a need for investments of government resources so that all public K-12 students can be close to equal at the starting line. Bell Curve studies have proven that it is impossible for all public K-12 students to be close to equal at the finish line.

True reform will require a lot more than current or former classroom teachers, many of whom who have been protective toward the status quo in districts most in need of reform while their lobbyists have used political clout to maximize K-12 funding at the expense of preschool programs that would reduce the number of poor childrem arriving at kindergarten ill-prepared to function in a disciplined learning environment.

Thanks Tauna. You are one of the building educators who should be leading school reform efforts. Well, you are, actually, and for that I thank you again.

Unfortunately, I see in today's news that Obama plans to link teachers to the test performance of students in order to figure out who are the good ones and the bad ones. Not a promising sign.

And Howard, you're wrong about teachers. As long as teachers are on the defensive, they'll react reflexively to protect what meager resource scraps they're allotted. But once empowered by enlightened administrators and given a place at the decision making table, wonderful things can happen. I speak from experience as a classroom teacher who was fortunate enough to work with a series of enlightened principals and district level staff.

All schools need reform in the way they structure learning. What works for middle class schools will also work for poor schools. And teachers are the key players.

Lincoln, er, Obama, does not believe in the excesses of "no child". He's not stupid, and only idiots believe in test-based education.

Having worked as a "psychometrist", I learned very long ago that tests of "intelligence" as well as of educational performance are bogus, serving to maintain a class-based system rather than to meaningfully measure anything of value.

Only a moment's reflection should convince the doubters that poverty is the primary difference between, e.g., racial groups, on most tests of educational performance. It's not rocket science.

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