Head Start children, when they became parents, were also more likely...to say they read aloud to their own children and taught them the alphabet, or had in the previous week praised them and spent time with them doing the child’s favorite activities. That’s a very different set of outcomes than measuring kindergarten readiness or third-grade skills. But results like that reveal more about the potential of investments in young children to later break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

There is a deep irony here. Parents and policy makers care about teaching because they recognize that learning is increasingly important in an information age. But the new information economy, as opposed to the older industrial one, demands more innovation and less imitation, more creativity and less conformity. In fact, children’s naturally evolved learning techniques are better suited to that sort of challenge than the teaching methods of the past two centuries.

If a hypothetical classroom of 30 children were based on current demographics in the United States, this is how the students in that classroom would live: Seven would live in poverty, 11 would be non-white, six wouldn’t speak English as a first language, six wouldn’t be reared by their biological parents, one would be homeless, and six would be victims of abuse.

The push for universal pre-K in Tennessee was dealt a blow by the Peabody study ... Those who got the extra year did enter kindergarten more prepared. But by first grade, there was no difference. At the end of first grade, co-investigator Dale Farran says the pre-K students were measurably less excited about school ... By third grade, the pre-K students were being outperformed by those who got the later start ... the state spent $86 million this year on pre-K.

...increased support for early childhood education that advocates are calling “historic.”...bill makes permanent a grant program for early education and has a number of new provisions ....For the first time since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ... was implemented in 1965, the bill recognizes that early childhood education is important in federal and state efforts to close achievement gaps between low-income students and their peers, said Erin Gabel,...

in many districts teachers at schools with high proportions of black and Latino students were paid less than counterparts at schools with lower minority populations. Blacks, who compose 16% of the total school population, represent 27% of students referred to law enforcement and 31% of students subjected to a school-related arrest, according to the report. Pacific Islander, Native American and Native Alaskan children were also two times as likely as their white peers to be held back.

The recent recession worsened conditions for many children, but minorities were hard hit and are having more difficulty recovering. The Pew Charitable Trusts found that, from 1999 to 2009, 23 percent of black families and 27 percent of Hispanic families experienced long-term unemployment, compared with 11 percent of white families. Pew Research Center, a subsidiary, found that the median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households.

Indeed, deprivation or neglect can cause more harm to a young child’s development than overt physical abuse, including subsequent cognitive delays, impairments in executive functioning, and disruptions of the body’s stress response.

The effects of both of these activities were, however, less substantial than the positive effect observed for the more informal activity of frequently talking to the infant while doing other things; and this was observed for both communication and problem-solving.

Researchers found that 26 states said they didn’t think they would be able to sustain the program’s extended learning time reforms after their federal grants expired, because they were too expensive. Just 10 said they thought they could keep it going.