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Former Top U.S. Education Department Official’s New Book Examines ‘Changing the Odds for Children at Risk: Seven Essential Principles of Educational Programs that Break the Cycle of Poverty’

December 3, 2008

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In her new book, “Changing
the Odds for Children at Risk,” Dr. Susan Neuman, professor at the University
of Michigan
School of Education writes, “We need to recast our priorities, to
fund programs that have solid evidence of results-programs that stake their
reputation on their abilities to exponentially improve the performance of
at-risk children.”

Neuman brings a unique perspective to this effort as her life’s work has
taken her from the front of the classroom as an elementary school teacher to
the halls of power in the White House and on Capitol Hill. She served as
Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education in the Bush
Administration from 2002-2004 and is regarded as one of the key implementers
of No Child Left Behind. During her tenure she established the Reading First
program (funded at $6 billion) and the Early Reading First program ($75
million
).

“Changing the Odds for Children at Risk,” published by Praeger and
available online and in bookstores, takes the reader along as Neuman goes into
the field to investigate educational programs up-close and develops what she
calls her “Seven Essential Principles of Educational Programs that Break the
Cycle of Poverty.”

Susan Neuman offers a compelling, first-hand look at what works in
education today in ‘Changing the Odds for Children at Risk,’” says Former
North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt, chair, Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership
and Policy. “She has taken the best of what she has learned from her research
and public service and combined it with the realities of what actually happens
in thousands of schools every day in America. We would be wise to learn from
her efforts and apply the seven principles she advocates in her book as we try
to fix our schools.”

    1. Actively target the neediest children.
    2. Begin early in children's lives.
    3. Emphasize coordinated services, particularly for children whose
        families present multiple risks.
    4. Focus on boosting academic achievement through compensatory high-
        quality instruction.
    5. Deliver instruction by trained professionals, not by aides or
        volunteers.
    6. Acknowledge that intensity matters, defending against any dilution of
        program quality as a waste of public resources.
    7. Always hold themselves accountable for results and for children's
        achievement.

“This is an immensely readable book that argues that the achievement gap
can be narrowed by various government programs that serve disadvantaged
families. In a warm and personally caring way, she relates what she considers
to be the successes of various government programs, including early childhood
education, nurse home visitor, and after-school services,” says Douglas
Besharov
, director, American Enterprise Institute’s Social and Individual
Responsibility Project.

Neuman’s book is all the more pressing given taxpayers spend more than
$400 billion dollars a year on education, yet the high school dropout rate is
still 30% or higher in some cities. She believes the rhetoric of leaving no
child behind has trumped reality.

Neuman’s book includes examinations of:

Philadelphia’s Books Aloud initiative that encourages reading by
focusing on child care providers. Program data show that it results in
preschoolers receiving statistically significant gains in receptive language,
phonological awareness and other measures.

California’s and Texas’ After-School Enrichment Program that provides
in-depth training to its program directors who lead activities.

Charlotte, N.C.’s Bright Beginnings early education program that has
graduates who score at or above average in reading skills both at the end of
kindergarten and first grade.

— Early Head Start Programs nationwide that have helped to improve scores
on standardized tests of infant and toddler development, and led to better
developmental functioning, greater parent involvement and lower levels of
family conflict and stress.

Neuman’s writing takes the lessons she has witnessed and infuses them with
her research and knowledge to create a persuasive set of principles that
policy-makers, political leaders, educators, parents and all taxpayers and
citizens can learn from and apply.

Neuman writes that, “In light of this extraordinary convergence of
increased awareness of the problem, knowledge of what works and renewed
commitment toward educating every child in America, the bleak cycle of poverty
and disadvantage that has until now appeared so intractable can be broken
forever.”

SOURCE Dr. Susan Neuman


Source: newswire



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