If better-fed students are less drowsy and cranky to the point that they get into fewer disciplinary scrapes, what must that imply for their time in class? If they are better behaved, are they more interested? On task? Involved? Imagine the improvement when this effort is replicated statewide.
Yes, kids' needs really are this basic. Healthy food in their bellies. Every day.
Now, consider another story from last week. Researchers in England have measured a difference in cognitive development among 7-year-olds whose families are persistently poor, compared to kids of less poor families.
The researchers followed 19,000 children, collected their family income details and tested their cognitive development at ages 3, 5 and 7.
By age 7, chronically poor children lagged behind other kids in skills such as memory, problem solving and decision making, reports Prevention Action, a journal about improving child health and development. Poverty is especially influential during the preschool years, the journal reported. Those early impairments last long after children start school, even after family income rises.
"The evidence suggests that persistent poverty tends to diminish parental investment in activities like bedtime stories, early learning support and encouragement for creative activities at home," the journal reported.
This isn't the first documentation that children from impoverished, struggling families don't thrive in school as well as other kids. It's only the latest, but it's important.
West Virginia has a lot of persistently poor children, and plenty of parents who work hard trying to provide for them. Helping families to overcome poverty's long-lasting effects should be the top priority in any discussion of "education reform."Miller, the Gazette's editorial page editor, can be reached at d...@wvgazette.com.