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Norman,

Very interesting point of view! I wonder, though, whether both sides of this
debate (whether or not one learns more effectively at one age than another) are
diverting attention from what is probably the real issue: whether or not one
learns effectively when one lives in an environment that doesn't value
education.

The issue with Head Start & programs like it is not just whether or not
individuals who go through it are able to achieve better, but also the slowly
accruing bankroll of a good faith effort by our society to value the education
of groups outside the margins of high-rent neighborhoods with good schools.
Slowly. These programs aren't designed to change society overnight.

Adults who go for adult literacy courses are, by definition, motivated to learn
to read. Children under 3 who get preschool are not necessarily motivated. I
would be curious whether the works cited in your post controlled for economic
background or educational level of the parents, two variables that have, I
believe, been shown elsewhere to have a far greater correlation with a
student's later success than just about anything else.

Either way, I'd want a little more information before I decided to scrap a
program that, though it's budget sounds big, is the budgetary equivalent to 3
1/2 B2 bombers. Let's talk about bombers vs. books, not books vs. books.

(Instead of speaking in billions, I prefer to speak in the unit of B2's: an
ironically apt name for a war machine that costs roughly 2Billion, and a unit
that is useful for pointing out national budgetary discrepancies and
priorities.)

Steve Runge
St. Lawrence U.
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