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Years of Promise: A Comprehensive Learning Strategy for America's Children.

This report underlines our collective responsibility toward children from communities that have historically not provided good education. It emphasizes that children and families are not the problem, and cites many examples of children who succeed once programs are designed to meet their needs.

Instead of issuing blame and continuing past practices, the report states that schools need to set standards and meet them. The Task Force presents an ambitious agenda. Children should get the high quality preschools they need. Families should have more say in their children's education. Child care centers and school buildings should be better utilized. Money should be found. Health and safety standards should be raised. Expectations should be high and they should be met. Children who "fall behind" should be coached back up. All American children should become proficient in two languages. Teachers should have ongoing effective training. Ineffective programs should be closed, and resources redirected. Career ladders should be built. After-school programs should be well-staffed, with well-paid workers who pay attention to each child's school needs as part of a comprehensive strategy to enhance learning.

Reporting that "more than 50% and as many at 80%" of early care and education programs "fail to meet standards of quality," the Task Force suggests that this lack of quality can compromise children's long-term development. "Any rational approach to educational improvement would include extension of quality preschools to all families who need them," it states.

Unfortunately, this report is marred by its devotion to results, its scope is short-term, and its tenets are worrisome to those of us focused upon learning-to-learn. Not all results are equal. This reviewer believes that results should be measured in ways that are sensitive to differences and that accurately reflect what children know and can do; and take into account contextual factors, such as the kinds of family settings children live in and the kinds of services they receive.

Although it gives lovely examples of best practice, ultimately, the report offers no road maps for getting from here to there.

Reviewed by Sydney Gurewitz Clemens, consultant and author of Pay Attention to the Children, San Francisco, CA
COPYRIGHT 1997 Association for Childhood Education International
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Clemens, Sydney Gurewitz
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1997
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