In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 21, 2013/ 11 Adar 5773

Obama and early childhood education: a rhetorical leap of faith

By Glenn Kessler

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | “In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children — like Georgia or Oklahoma — studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own.”

— President Obama, State of the Union address, Feb. 12, 2013

 “In states like Georgia that have made it a priority to educate our youngest children, states like Oklahoma, students don’t just show up in kindergarten and first grade more prepared to learn, they're also more likely to grow up reading and doing math at grade level, graduating from high school, holding a job, even forming more stable families.”

— President Obama, remarks on early childhood education, Decatur, Ga., Feb. 14. 2013

There’s a subtle difference in these two statements: the reference to “studies” is missing from the president’s speech in Georgia. In other words, the second statement is more of an opinion, rather than a stated fact.

 Coincidentally or not, the president’s rhetoric was tweaked after The Fact Checker asked the White House for documentation on those studies — in particular, an explanation of what research showed that the children in states receiving preschool education were more likely to hold a job or form stable families.

Let’s look at what’s going on here.


The Facts

President Obama on Thursday unveiled a proposal to greatly expand pre-K and other early childhood education programs. As a White House statement put it, Obama believes that “high-quality early education provides the foundation for all children’s success in school and helps to reduce achievement gaps.”

We take no position on whether that is correct; there is significant debate about the long-term effectiveness of pre-K programs, though the issue is notoriously difficult to study. (Early advances, for instance, could be undermined by poor elementary school teaching.) Each side can point to studies that make its case.

 The most famous studies involve the Perry Preschool Project, in Ypsilanti, Mich., and the Carolina Abecedarian Project, in Chapel Hill, N.C. Low-income African American children were randomly selected for high-quality preschool programs, and then their school performance, jobs and other life events were tracked over the years.

The initial expenditure was high — $90,000, in today’s dollars, in the case of Abecedarian (Table 2.1) — but studies indicated that the investment paid off over time: The children who received intervention earned more money and committed fewer crimes than those who did not receive preschool education.  

These studies carry weight because they were started decades ago — in the 1960s and 1970s, respectively — and the outcomes have been carefully tracked. But they were also relatively small programs, with only about 100 children participating in each. Another program, known as the Chicago Child-Parent Centers, has plotted the lives of some 1,500 students, with similar results, but it did not involve random selection.  

The big question is whether these results would carry over into larger, less costly state-run programs. The federal government already offers Head Start for low-income children — at a cost of about $8 billion a year — and the results have been mixed.

 “There were initial positive impacts from having access to Head Start, but by the end of 3rd grade there were very few impacts found for either cohort in any of the four domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices,” concluded a report released by the Obama administration last year that tracked children in Head Start over time. “The few impacts that were found did not show a clear pattern of favorable or unfavorable impacts for children.” 

 Let’s look again at Obama’s State of the Union statement: “In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children — like Georgia or Oklahoma — studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own.”

 The Georgia program, for instance, began in 1996, and the Oklahoma program in 1998, meaning the oldest participants are now only 20. So how does the president know such state programs mean these children will be able to hold a job or have stable marriages?

He doesn’t. The White House could provide no studies backing up his claim, so we can only assume he is jumping to the conclusion that the results in Perry and Abecedarian would be easily replicated.

 But that may be a risky assumption. 

“Generalizations to state pre-K programs from research findings on Perry and Abecedarian are prodigious leaps of faith,” wrote Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, last month. “Perry and Abecedarian were multi-year intensive interventions whereas state pre-K programs are overwhelmingly one-year programs for four-year-olds.” He also noted that today’s students face different the circumstances than those of 30 to 40 years ago.  

The Oklahoma program has been carefully studied by Georgetown University’s Center for Research on Children in the United States (CROCUS). William T. Gormley, co-director of CROCUS, agreed that the president’s statement went too far:

 “If I had been crafting this sentence, I would have worded it differently. Our Oklahoma research to date shows some persistence of cognitive gains through at least 3rd grade. This is cause for celebration.  Extrapolations that link the Oklahoma data set (kindergarten test scores) to other data sets (adult earnings as a function of kindergarten test scores in other sites) also suggest that long-term economic gains are highly likely. This is encouraging, but not definitive.
  “Other reputable studies — of the Perry Preschool Project and the Chicago Parent Centers, for example — have documented precisely the kinds of positive long-term changes that President Obama referred to in his State of the Union message.
  “That said, the premise of your question is correct:  we do not yet know for sure whether the phenomenal short-term gains from a high-quality preschool program that we have documented in Tulsa will translate into equally phenomenal long-term gains.”

Bentley D. Ponder, director of research and evaluation at the Georgia pre-K program, agreed that the president could not be citing a study that involved the Georgia program.

“The study we just completed on Georgia’s Pre-K Program looked at children during their pre-K year and found that they made gains in all domains of learning — language and literacy, math, general knowledge and social skills,” said Ellen S. Peisner-Feinberg, senior scientist at the FPG Child Development Institute. “Further, we found that children who were Spanish-speaking dual language learners made gains in both English and Spanish, even though the primary language of instruction was English.”

“President Obama cited an array of long-term effects and a 7 to 1 return on investment that can only be attributed to the high-quality preschool program studied by the HighScope Perry Preschool Study, and I wish he had been explicit about that,” said Larry Schweinhart, president of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation, who has conducted research on the Perry Preschool Project since 1975. He noted that the president did not explicitly say the studies were in Georgia or Oklahoma, “although I agree that that is a reasonable inference.”

The Pinocchio Test

In the State of the Union, the president went too far by rhetorically linking the long-term results of a handful of unrelated programs to state pre-K programs that he wants to tout. There is evidence of near-term gains from such state programs, but not yet the long-term impact claimed by the president.

The president’s phrasing in Georgia was better, as his statement then was in the realm of opinion, not facts attributed to “studies.” But the State of the Union was the marquee speech, heard by millions of Americans. That’s when his phrasing should have been the most accurate.


Two Pinocchios



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An award-winning journalism career spanning nearly three decades, Glenn Kessler has covered foreign policy, economic policy, the White House, Congress, politics, airline safety and Wall Street. He was The Washington Post's chief State Department reporter for nine years, traveling around the world with three different Secretaries of State. Before that, he covered tax and budget policy for The Washington Post and also served as the newspaper's national business editor. Kessler has long specialized in digging beyond the conventional wisdom, such as when he earned a "laurel" from the Columbia Journalism Review


02/14/13: Fact checking the 2013 State of the Union speech

10/23/11: Fact Checking the Final Debate

07/10/11: Obama's misleading tweet on Romney's taxes

02/21/11: The claim that 98 percent of Catholic women use contraception: a media foul

12/29/11: Ron Paul and Ronald Reagan (Fact Checker biography)

12/08/11: Romney versus Gingrich: a Super PAC's over-the-top ad

12/08/11: Obama's Kansas speech: some suspect facts

11/18/11: The Obama campaign's spin on the Romney tax plan

09/27/11: Obama' strained symbolism at an Ohio River bridge

08/25/11: Obama's claim that GOP is holding up trade deals

08/11/11: Obama's claim that the debt problem can ‘go away’

06/22/11: AARP's misleading ad about balancing the budget

05/24/11: A rare Geppetto for Paul Ryan's assertion on Obama's hidden top marginal tax rate

05/16/11:Obama administration boasting about border security

05/11/11: Kathleen Sebelius's outrageous claim that cancer patients would 'die sooner' under the GOP Medicare plan

05/09/11: A gusher of oil rhetoric

05/04/11: The Obama administration's odd claims on export growth

04/28/11: How effective are sanctions in ‘changing behavior’?

04/14/11: ‘Biggest cuts in U.S. history’? Well, no.

04/08/11: Nancy Pelosi's absurd math on senior citizens losing their meals

04/06/11: Hillary Clinton's uncredible statement on Syria

03/25/11: Libya, Obama and the tragedy in Darfur

03/22/11: Gifts of bogus statistics for the health-care law's birthday

03/21/11: Mitch McConnell's not-so-happy birthday greetings for the health care law

03/10/11: A job-loss statistic produced out of thin air

03/10/17: A budget analogy that earns a Geppetto checkmark

03/10/11: Four pinocchios for the American public on the budget

03/09/11: Obama and the White House's ‘halfway’ fixation with the budget

03/08/11: Foreign policy braggadocio on Libya and AIDS

03/07/11: Democrats keep misleading on claimed budget ‘cuts’

03/01/11: Mike Huckabee is on to something here, but jumped the gun

02/25/11: Harry Reid's illusory $41 billion in budget cuts

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