Award Winning Documentary Highlights Issues of Race, Class & Opportunity

PBS will premiere American Promise, winner of the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festivalon Monday, Feburary 3rd.  Check your local listings for times.

From the Sundance Institute:

American Promise is an epic and groundbreaking documentary charged with the hope that every child can reach his or her full potential and contribute to a better future for our country. It calls into question commonly held assumptions about educational access and what factors really influence academic performance. Filmmakers Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson deliver a rare, intimate, and emotional portrait of black middle-class family life, humanizing the unique journey of African-American boys as they face the real-life hurdles society poses for young men of color, inside and outside the classroom.


Bipartisan Bill Increases Early Childhood Spending

On Friday, January 17th, President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion bipartisan spending bill that contains a $1.5 million post-sequestration increase to early childhood programs.

Early Childhood Highlights


CDF’s The State of America’s Children 2014 Report Published

Children’s Defense Fund published a new report, The State of Americas Children 2014, which provides a comprehensive analysis of national and state data on population, poverty, family structure, family income, health, nutrition, early childhood development, education, child welfare, juvenile justice, and gun violence.

The report suggests that the number of homeless children enrolled in public schools in the state of Minnesota increased by 97% between the 2006 and 2012.

The study also shows that students who live in poverty fare far worse in the public school system than those from higher income families.

Approximately 75% of lower income fourth and eighth grade Minnesota public school students performed below their grade level in math and reading in 2013; less than 50% of higher income students performed below their grade level in math & reading during the same time period.


Focused Intervention For Struggling Minneapolis Schools

The Minneapolis School District will implement a short term intervention to improve student performance at thirteen elementary and middle schools:

Andersen, Anthony, Anwatin, Bancroft, Bryn Mawr, Folwell, Jefferson, Nellie Stone Johnson, Pillsbury, Sanford, Seward, Sullivan and Whittier.

The intervention will include customized core instruction and Saturday school based on student needs.




2014 Children & Youth Issues Briefing Event Highlights

The 2014 Children & Youth Issues Briefing brought together a variety of non-profit organizations to discuss the most important issues facing Minnesota’s youth.  Event objectives were to:

  1. Highlight Minnesota’s innovative efforts to address key challenges and close the opportunity gap
  2. Discuss issues affecting children and youth looking ahead to the 2014 legislative session
  3. Hear from Minnesota youth about their experience and perspective about the opportunity gap
Learn more about the event through under the Resource section (bottom, right-hand side of page).

Language Gap Starts As Early As 18 Months

New research from Stanford University found that by the age of eighteen months, children from low-income families heard approximately 30 million fewer words then children from affluent families.

Anne Fernald, associate professor of psychology at Stanford, conducted research to determine how quickly and accurately young children identified objects based on simple verbal cues.

“By 2 years of age, these disparities are equivalent to a six-month gap between infants from rich and poor families in both language processing skills and vocabulary knowledge,” Fernald said. “What we’re seeing here is the beginning of a developmental cascade, a growing disparity between kids that has enormous implications for their later educational success and career opportunities.”

Despite the findings, Fernald does point to a silver lining in her research:

“The good news is that regardless of economic circumstances, parents who use more and richer language with their infants can help their child to learn more quickly.”