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Spring 2004
The Education Imperative
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8 Mile
Starting Out on the Right Path
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No Child Left Behind
Diversity, Economics and Education
Globalization’s Missing Middle
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Spring 2004
Starting Out on the Right Path
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THE GOOD NEWS IS that there is a range of early interventions that can significantly alter and improve developmental outcomes, especially in cases where children are at risk. These interventions range from intensive home visiting and center-based programs for children who are most at-risk to programs like Reach Out and Read, where pediatricians coach parents on how to share a book with their children in order to stimulate language and literacy in all children.

As a result of this converging basic, clinical and interventional research, there is a flurry of activity at many levels of government throughout the United States, and in many other countries as well, to put these findings into practice. Several local, state and national initiatives are underway, focusing public attention on what is at stake and what can be done to optimize the development of young children. New spending efforts have also emerged, centered on augmenting and enhancing early-childhood services and programs and building more comprehensive early-childhood systems.

For example, in 1998, California passed Proposition 10, which placed a 50-cent tax on cigarettes and has raised more than $600 million in new funds dedicated to improving the health, development and school readiness of young children. Proposition 10 also created 58 county-based First 5 commissions, as well as a state First 5 commission that is leveraging its resources along with existing county, state and federal programs to improve the availability, quality and content of health and developmental services. An additional focus of the commissions has been to provide children with high-quality child-care and early-education experiences.

As part of this First 5 effort, many counties in California are also launching universal health-insurance programs, as well as other innovative initiatives. In Los Angeles, for example, there is an ambitious program to provide universal preschool education. At the state level, the California Master Plan for Education has also been revised with an important focus, for the first time, on children 0-to-5. Karen Hill-Scott M.A. '72, Ed.D. '74, an adjunct professor in the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research, has been a leader in the universal-access-to-preschool effort as chair of the state's School Readiness Maser Plan and chief architect of the Los Angeles universal preschool-system plan.

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