Category Archives: Media watch

What advice would you give?

Everyone seems to have advice for the president-elect; Parents as Teachers National Center is no exception (see previous posts here).


But Maffitt McDonald, a freshman at McCluer High School in St. Louis, had some especially perceptive insight recently. He was one of the finalists in an essay contest for high school students sponsored by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Lindenwood University. Students were asked to write about what they would change if they were president, and while most suggested the economy, health care reform, energy consumption, Maffitt wrote a particularly articulate argument to focus the nation’s efforts on education above all else.


“If the public is uneducated, they make bad decisions which will have a large impact on the economic status of America,” he writes. He offers the president-elect a three-point plan: implement a huge media campaign; require high school diplomas for employment; and offer parenting classes to teach children how to be good parents.


Listen to all the finalists read their essays (Maffitt’s essay begins about a minute into the video), then let us know what you think the new president should do first.


Look who’s in your corner!

They say every successful initiative has a champion. In Bowling Green, Kentucky, kids have a champion in Nancy Booth. Her Parents as Teachers program has received $26,000 in grants recently, and much of the credit surely goes to Nancy.

In 2006 her program’s major funding source changed its primary focus and pulled the funding from her Parents as Teachers program. Nancy refused to accept that as the end and began writing grants and request letters, ultimately resulting in the $26,000 influx which turned the program around.

As she herself points out, it costs only $1,500 to provide Parents as Teachers services to a family for a year. Her program is serving just 13 families (with others on a waiting list), and will now be able to add more families, including some whose children have special needs.

Times are tough; we all know that. So kudos to the Bowling Green Junior Women’s Club, Sam’s Club, People’s Cash Advance, Community Collaboration for Children, Build-a-Bear Bear Workshop Hugs Foundation, Lil’ Angels Attic, American Legion, WNKY-TV, Houchens IGA, WHAS-TV Crusade for Children, Kentucky Colonels, Disciples Response Fund and Kappa Delta Sorority Shenanigans for stepping up to the plate.

Pssst: there are 3,000 other Parents as Teachers programs around the country that could also use your help!

Go vote now; it will make you feel big and strong.

By Jane Callahan

As I’ve watched the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates over the past month—and especially the post-game analysis afterward—I have tried to tune into different TV stations.  Last night I watched the debate on CNN that included a real time graphing of the reactions of Ohio undecided voters.  This reminded me of those long ago talent or beauty contests where the host would put his hand over the  contestants’ heads and the audience would applaud for the one they liked the best.  Granted, this graphing is much more sophisticated but it is essentially the same idea.

The candidates got especially high marks during the discussion of education!  Senator Obama specifically raised up early childhood education as a core component of his overall education plan.  And Senator McCain discussed his interest in looking more closely at Head Start with the goal of improving services.  Senator Obabma also talked about the importance of adequate government funding for education programs – including those serving children with special needs.  It was very affirming to hear the candidates discuss these education-related issues during their last debate.

For me, the debate’s frosting on the cake was Bob Schieffer’s closing comment: “Go vote now… it will make you feel big and strong.” 

What’s Parents as Teachers and how do I get it?

Fox2 anchor Margie Ellisor knows the benefits of having a Parents as Teachers parent educator. She participates in Rockwood School District’s Parents as Teachers program where her parent educator, Amy, guides, models and coaches Margie and her husband as they parent their three kids.

When I talked to Margie recently, she was surprised that so many young parents still don’t know about this free program. So we arranged for her to talk to Donna Hunt O’Brien, an early childhood specialist here, to explain why even news anchors like Margie can benefit from Parents as Teachers. Watch the segment and see for yourself.

As for signing up, call your local school district in Missouri. (For St. Louis Public Schools, the largest school district in the area, call 314-771-4626.) Outside Missouri call 1-866-PAT4YOU (1-866-728-4968) and we’ll hook you up locally!

Up in arms or down in the dumps over universal pre-K?

I guess it was no surprise that columns in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times came out on opposite sides of the universal pre-K debate last week.


On one hand (that of WSJ columnists Shikha Dalmia and Lisa Snell), universal preschool is not all it’s cracked up to be and certainly doesn’t offer a serious return on investment, they claim. As for economic gains, they cite only Nobel laureate James Heckman‘s calculation of 16-cents on the dollar, which is a far cry from those of the Economic Policy Institute ($3 in benefits for every dollar in investment) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (8-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio).


On the other hand (that of Winnie Hu in the NYT), if it’s well-funded funded universal pre-K can work. Steven Barnett of Rutgers University says it improves children’s cognitive abilities and promotes social and emotional development, all of which ultimately lead to higher test scores and graduation rates. It’s a future every state longs for but few, including New York, are fully committed to.


What do you say? Is pre-K the new kindergarten, something every child should have access to? Where should the funding come from?