Community-Based Ed Reform starts before birth…


Please see Saturday, January 7th’s NY Times piece by Nicholas Kristof on the importance of education, particularly early education.   (


He’s saying what we’re saying…  K-12 Education is extremely
important.  However, maybe even the more important (and more cost
effective) influence in someone’s life and in fighting the negative
behaviors associated with poverty is in the early years… even before
This is what we believe.  Great teachers are critical!  But even
great teaching may not be enough.  To have real and lasting impact, we
must couple great and clustered teachers within specific
and defined geographic neighborhoods and surround the students within these neighborhoods with other key resources that
can work together to transform an entire community. 


We believe one of
the most important resources is the early childhood piece.  We will work
to have this piece in all four of our partner neighborhoods.  As of today, the Binghampton Development Corporation (BDC) has 40 pregnant or new mothers enrolled in their Parents As Teachers education program.  Census data tells
us that approximately 100 children are born each year in Binghampton. We’re making great (yet early) progress in preparing mothers to be the most effective first teacher their child will ever have.


We are using education to fight poverty, not simply the education
achievement gap.  If we can help kill the dysfunction of poverty the achievement gap
will be much easier to close.


A few lines from the article:
This new research addresses an uncomfortable truth: Poverty is difficult
to overcome partly because of self-destructive behaviors. Children from
poor homes often shine, but others may skip school, abuse narcotics,
break the law, and have trouble settling down in a marriage and a job.
Then their children may replicate this pattern.
Liberals sometimes ignore these self-destructive pathologies.
Conservatives sometimes rely on them to blame poverty on the poor.
The research suggests that the roots of impairment and underachievement
are biologically embedded, but preventable. “This is the biology of
social class disparities,” Dr. Shonkoff said. “Early experiences are
literally built into our bodies.”
The implication is that the most cost-effective window to bring about
change isn’t high school or even kindergarten — although much greater
efforts are needed in schools as well — but in the early years of life,
or even before birth.


So, imagine if we can partner to tackle the early years AND elementary school AND high school all within the same neighborhood serving the same children. 


Trust me, we’re working on all three.