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Preserving the Public in Public Schools

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by Shawn Healy, Resident Scholar, Civics Program "…We educate children for a number of reasons, but ultimately to preserve our democratic republic."
Preserving the Public in Public SchoolsBut not everyone believes that. For some, preserving prosperity is the current rage, with schools placing an increased emphasis on reading and math, skills deemed essential by the business community. Lost in the process is the commitment to developing good citizens, the foundation for a strong democracy.In their recently published book, Preserving the Public in Public Schools, Phil Boyle and Del Burns argue that public schools in the United States have served as the perennial battleground for the nation’s competing ideals of a good society.The authors believe that the debate surrounding the purpose of public education consistently focuses on the issues of liberty, community, equality and prosperity. They contend:Liberty manifests itself best in the current debate over school choice—neighb…

Home Visiting Helps Combat Effects of Toxic Stress in Young Children

Guest blog by Diana Rauner, President, Ounce of Prevention Fund & Gaylord Gieseke, Vice President, Voices for Illinois Children The number of children at risk for the short and long-term effects of toxic childhood stress is growing dramatically. This was the dismal news highlighted in a policy statement released last month by the American Academy of Pediatrics and in a recent op-ed from New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Both cite new research that demonstrates that the cumulative effects of growing up in environments replete with violence, parental depression, chaos and other uncertainties can literally alter the healthy, normal development of a young child’s brain. These stressors can impede a child’s capacity to “power down” from the fight or flight reflex, which reduces his ability to manage his temper and emotions or show empathy to others. It can also lead to later drug and alcohol use, obesity, heart disease and even early death.But it doesn’t have to be that way. V…