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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 Dec. 9, 2013/ 6 Teves, 5774

Mozart for babies all over again?

By A. Barton Hinkle




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Two decades ago, psychologist Frances Rauscher conducted an experiment in which she asked 36 college students to listen to different kinds of music before visualizing how a folded-up piece of paper would look when cut and then unfolded.

The results seemed to suggest Mozart might improve spatial reasoning. Nothing earth-shattering there — yet this one small study inspired a nationwide craze. Through something like a national version of the children's game of telephone, countless Americans glommed on to the idea that playing Mozart to a child in the womb would boost his or her IQ.

A new industry was born. What Amazon now calls the "baby brain-booster category" of consumer products soon grew crowded. Inevitably, politicians jumped on the bandwagon. Georgia Gov. Zell Miller directed that classical music recordings be sent home with new mothers. Florida mandated that state day care centers play symphonies.

Just one small problem: None of that had any scientific basis. True, babies can recognize music they hear in the womb for several weeks following birth. But this does not boost a child's IQ. Six years ago, Scientific American reported that a German review by "a cross-disciplinary team of musically inclined scientists declared the (Mozart effect) phenomenon nonexistent." Even Rauscher, author of the original study, called the idea that playing music to a fetus will make it smarter "really a myth."

Study after study has reached the same conclusion. Yet companies still pitch the idea of piping tunes into the womb, and parents still lap it up.

Something similar may be going on now — with pre-kindergarten.

Back in February, President Obama proposed "working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime."

The claim was bunk. But the president's proposal enjoys growing support.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine recently penned an op/ed supporting the Start Strong for America's Children Act — a "10-year federal-state partnership to expand and improve early childhood education." Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe favors expanding pre-K, too. The support crosses red-team/blue-team lines: The Virginia Chamber of Commerce would like the state to "improve access to high-quality early childhood education," and it was a Republican governor, George Allen, who launched the Virginia Preschool Initiative.

In his op/ed column, Kaine repeated the standard arguments: "Pre-K is good for the economy"; "early learning programs make it more likely that children will do well in elementary school"; and so on. It would be nice if we had an experiment somewhere to test the validity of those claims.



We do. It's called Head Start. The United States has spent more than $160 billion on that early education program for at-risk children. The results are amazing — as in amazingly poor.

In 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services reported on a congressionally mandated study of approximately 5,000 3- and 4-year-olds who were randomly assigned to either a control group or a group that had access to a Head Start program. It found that "at the end of kindergarten and first grade the Head Start children and the control group children were at the same level on many of the measures studied."

Last year, HHS issued the results of another randomized study. It, too, found that Head Start produced "little evidence of systematic differences" in children's elementary school experiences through third grade.

It's pretty damning when the federal government itself concludes that a federal program doesn't work. But if you're still not convinced, consider a recent piece by Grover Whitehurst of the liberal Brookings Institution. Whitehurst is a development psychologist who spent his career "designing and evaluating pr

ograms intended to enhance the cognitive development of young children." The rhetoric supporting the Start Strong legislation, Whitehurst writes, is "entirely predictable and thoroughly misleading. If you're an advocate of strengthening early childhood programs, as I am, you also need to pay careful attention to the evidence — all of it." And the evidence, he says, "raises doubts on Obama's preschool for all."

Just as the baby-Mozart crowd extrapolated wildly from one small and unrelated study, Whitehurst says supporters of universal pre-K "highlight positive long-term outcomes of two boutique programs from 40-50 years ago that served a couple of hundred children" — the Perry and Abecedarian pre-school projects. Those projects focused intensely on underprivileged children: Perry's two-year intervention spent $19,000 per student.

Meanwhile, boosters ignore evidence that pre-K isn't all it's cracked up to be. That evidence, Whitehurst notes, includes "a newly released study of Tennessee's Voluntary Pre-K Program (TN-VPK). TN-VPK is a full day pre-K program for four-year-olds from low-income families."

The study found that "seven of the outcomes are negative. In other words, the group that experienced the Tennessee Voluntary State Pre-K Program performed somewhat less well on cognitive tasks at the end of first grade than the control group."

"I see these finding as devastating for advocates of the expansion of state pre-K programs," Whitehurst concludes. "I wish this weren't so, but facts are stubborn things."

Granted, other studies suggest early childhood programs can help prepare children for kindergarten.

One study of the Abbot pre-school initiative in New Jersey also showed modest results into fifth grade. But the claim being advanced by Obama, Kaine and others is far more sweeping: that pre-K's benefits last long into the future — so long, in fact, that they raise graduation rates, decrease teenage pregnancy and reduce crime.

It's possible. It's also possible that piping Mozart into the womb makes your baby smarter. But shouldn't government policy — and taxpayer funding — rest on a firmer foundation than that?

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

A. Barton Hinkle is Deputy Editor of the Editorial Pages at Richmond Times-Dispatch Comment by clicking here.


Previously:




11/25/13: Food police are gluttons for punishment --- of others
11/12/13: Cheer up --- things are getting better
10/29/13: Cure for ignorant voters --- really small governments
10/24/13: If they can't cut the small stuff...
10/22/13: Political speech --- dumb as a ham sandwich
10/15/13: Why College Costs Will Soon Plunge
09/19/13: Progressives Reap What They Sow
09/13/13: You are being watched
09/10/13: Sorry, your business isn't desirable enough
09/05/13: The least bad option: Kill Assad
08/27/13: GOPers wrong ones to take on ObamaCare
08/08/13: Gas prices: What can the president do?
08/02/13: Chris Christie pulls a Dowd
07/29/13: Should Click and Clack wind up in the clink?
07/08/13: Commit any felonies lately?
06/18/13: Citizens and the State: the problem is bigger than you think
06/06/13: Political derangement threatens basic rights
05/30/13: Should we fear ex-Marine --- or those who detained him?
05/23/13: Professor of Constitution goes to war against it
05/23/13: REVEALED: IRS letter to tea party groups
05/15/13: Today on NPR: The smothering tax burden
04/30/13: What does Boston say about diversity?
04/25/13: For some libs, 'courage' = agreeing with them
04/18/13: Utterly outraged by their president's callous betrayal
04/11/13: Cognitive dissonance on guns
04/04/13: Do unto others, but not unto us, say the media
04/01/13: Observations from the auto shop holding pen
03/14/13: The nation-building follies
03/12/13: Will the right come around on pot?
03/07/13: Another U.S. dupe falls for a dictator
02/28/13: How dare you say that here!
02/26/13: Eating Frito-Lay chips at gunpoint
02/20/13: Death Star petitions are just what we need
02/13/13: ObamaCare proves law correct --- deep down you knew it would
01/29/13: It's Time to Get Judgy About Incompetency
01/23/13: Look who's mocking fascist fear-mongering now
01/16/13: Only in Washington could you get away with referring to spending and tax increases as spending 'cuts'
01/09/13: Obama begins his second term, Bush's fourth
01/07/13: Who's Attacking the Constitution Now?
01/03/13: Why, historically, January is the perfect time to debate the filibuster
12/26/12: When libs devalue diversity
12/20/12: Mark Your Calendars
12/13/12: Gun control, ad infinitum
12/11/12: Fracking can help fix the CO2 problem
12/06/12: Let's open the door to lots more immigration
12/04/12: Who's watching the kids? Just about everyone
11/29/12: The Real Middle-Class Champion was Mocked and Opposed
11/26/12: It's time to cut a deal on the budget
11/20/12: The case for a carbon tax
11/15/12: Cue the hysterics. Reports of Democracy's Death Greatly Exaggerated
11/07/12: The $4,000 Trash Can: We need regulation, but not this much
10/23/12: The Ballad of Islamist Rage Boy
10/17/12: Undermining the values that enable people in poverty to escape it? Sadly, yes
10/11/12: How Much Is This Tax Cut Gonna Cost Me, Doc?
10/04/12: Warrantless spying skyrockets under Obama
08/20/12: The wrong side absolutely must not win
08/14/12: America was not built on dirt alone
08/02/12: Libs Discover Their Inner Cheney
07/30/12: Feds want to help you --- whether you want help or not
07/23/12: Barack Obama, Storyteller-in-Chief
07/23/12: Nation's worst outsourcer? You
07/19/12: Listen up, America: You need to knuckle under
07/12/12: Obama, Romney: As Different as Two Peas in a Pod
07/05/12: Are teenagers big children --- or little adults?
06/25/12: Minorities treated as mere numbers
06/21/12: Memo to the the Little Guy: Seemingly innocuous activity could bring the federal hammer down out of a clear blue sky
06/19/12: We mustn't let America be buffaloed
05/31/12: Drop and Give Uncle Sam 20
05/15/12: The feds would like to know if you enjoyed that video
05/03/12: Obama inspires: 'America --- Still Not as Bad Off as Venezuela!'
04/26/12: It's everyone's favorite time of year again
03/29/12: GOP disillusionment is a good thing
03/27/12: Just what America needs: more red tape
03/20/12: Nation wondering: what happening to language?
02/21/12: Culture warriors resort to propaganda
02/15/12: Step away from that cookie and grab some air
02/08/12: Lessons in heresy
02/01/12: Do We Really Need Pickle-Flavored Potato Chips?
01/11/12: Shut up, they explained
12/30/11: A Modest Proposal: Let's Ban All Sports!
12/26/11: A Christmas letter from the Obamas
02/24/11: Will the next Watson need us?
12/24/10: Here Are Some Good Gifts for People You Hate
06/15/10: The Presinator
05/26/10: More than equal
04/08/10: Angry Right Takes a Page From Angry Left but guess who is ‘ugly’?
02/16/10: Either Obama owes George W. Bush an apology, or he owes the rest of us a very good explanation for his about-face on wiretapping
02/03/10: Talkin' to us 'tards
01/27/10: I never thought I'd see the day when progressives would howl in ragebecause the Supreme Court said government should not ban books
01/07/10: Gun-Control Advocates Play Fast and Loose
12/31/09: Nearly everything progressives say about neoconservative interventionism abroad applies to their own preferred policies at home





© 2011, A. Barton Hinkle

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