By Doug Ford
Last week I reviewed some important points made by Peter D. Salins in his book “The Smart Society: Strengthening America’s Greatest Resource, its People.” He identified the “Megagap,” between the performance levels of the mainstream of American students and the “disadvantaged American youngsters of all ethnic groups” as the biggest problem in American education
Salins argued that we have followed strategies for closing the Megagap that didn’t work for more than six decades. He pointed out that our inadequate graduation levels from high school and college are a direct result of lack of effort to enable disadvantaged students to overcome their cultural literacy deficit before they start first grade and in the early years of elementary school.
Then he shows several examples of what has been demonstrated to work: well-designed and supported preschool programs. “Although a growing volume of empirically solid research confirms the cultural deficit hypothesis, this finding has been largely ignored or rejected by the American educational establishment.”… “This has led to a nationwide profusion of ineffective or inefficient preschools, undermining the rationale and broad-based public support for significantly expanding the preschool enterprise.”