Changing the Odds for Children at Risk: Seven Essential Principles of Educational Programs that Break the Cycle of Poverty

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Schools, today, are in the midst of the most major, costly educational reform movement in their history as they grapple with the federal mandates to leave no children behind, says author Susan B. Neuman, former Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education under President George W. Bush. Although some efforts for investing resources will be substantially more productive than others, there is little evidence that, despite many heroic attempts to beat the odds, any of these efforts will close more than a fraction of the differences in achievement for poor minority children and their middleclass peers.

As Neuman explains in this insightful, revealing book, schools will fail, not due to the soft bigotry of low expectations, but because there are multitudes of children growing up in circumstances that make them highly vulnerable. Children who come to school from dramatically unequal circumstances leave school with similarly unequal skills and abilities.

In these pages, however, Neuman shows how the odds can be changed, how we can break the cycle of poverty and disadvantage for children at risk After laying the critical groundwork for the need for change—excessive waste with little effect—this book provides a vivid portrait of changing the odds for high-poverty children. Describing how previous reforms have missed the mark, it offers a framework based on seven essential principles for implementing more effective programs and policies.

Building on successes while being fiscally responsible is a message that has been shown to have wide bipartisan appeal, embraced by both liberals and conservatives. Following Neuman's essential principles, chapters describe programs for changing the odds for children, when the cognitive gaps are beginning to form, in these earliest years of their lives. In a highly readable style, Neuman highlights programs that are making a difference in children's lives across the country, weaving together narratives that tell a compelling story of hope and promise for our most disadvantaged children.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Extremely well written, this book belongs in libraries supporting educators, parents, researchers, and policy-makers." - Library Journal

"Neumann writes a practical book of solutions, as offered through her "seven essentials" for changing the odds for at-risk kids and their families. These aren't theories. These are principles of educational programs that are proving themselves to work in several different places around the country. … Her ideas are the type of educational stimulus plan needed to save the futures of millions of young Americans who otherwise may perish." - MultiCultural Review

"Every educator--experienced, as well as novice--will rejoice at the thought that things can improve, and moreover, are improving in the education of every child, regardless of material goods or social standing. Neuman presents a blueprint for every child in America." - Catholic Library World

"Neuman refers to her audience as 'policy makers, practitioners, parents, and community leaders' who could help disadvantaged children (p. 70). However, readers interested in principles based on empirical studies and calls for action from those qualified to perform educational and performance-based testing, longitudinal studies, program assessment, individual testing, correlation studies, and research design assessment would also find this book useful. . . . Neuman successfully achieves what seems to be the book's purpose, to convince readers that there is enough funding already in place to help children at risk, that programs exist that can help at-risk children, and that programs that cannot bring forth fruits of success should be jettisoned." - PsycCRITIQUES

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313362224
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/30/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

SUSAN B. NEUMAN is former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, and now a Professor of Educational Studies, specializing in early literacy development, at the University of Michigan. In her role as Assistant Secretary, she established the Reading First program, the Early Reading First program, and was responsible for all activities in Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Act. She has directed the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA). She is also a 2008 Leader for the American Library Association National Information Campaign on School Readiness. Neuman has authored more than 100 articles, and authored or edited 11 books, including Educating the Other America and Multimedia and Literacy Development.

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Table of Contents


Ch 1: The Critical Early Years for Changing the Odds

Ch 2: Changing the Odds by Funding What Works

Ch 3: The Seven Essentials for Changing the Odds

Ch 4: Changing the Odds by Helping to Strengthen Families

Ch 5: Changing the Odds through Quality Early Care and Education

Ch 6: Changing the Odds through Community-Based Programs

Ch 7: Changing the Odds through After-School Programs

Ch 8: The Public Will: What it Will Take to Change the Odds

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