John on March 25, 2007 at 9:36 pm
The NY Times reports on the largest ever study of the effects of day care on children:
A much-anticipated report from the largest and longest-running study of American child care has found that keeping a preschooler in a day care center for a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class â€” and that the effect persisted through the sixth grade.
The research, being reported today as part of the federally financed Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, tracked more than 1,300 children in various arrangements, including staying home with a parent; being cared for by a nanny or a relative; or attending a large day care center. Once the subjects reached school, the study used teacher ratings of each child to assess behaviors like interrupting class, teasing and bullying.
The findings are certain to feed a long-running debate over day care, experts say.
“I have accused the study authors of doing everything they could to make this negative finding go away, but they couldn’t do it,” said Sharon Landesman Ramey, director of the Georgetown University Center on Health and Education. “They knew this would be disturbing news for parents, but at some point, if that’s what you’re finding, then you have to report it.”
The debate reached a high pitch in the late 1980s, during the so-called day care wars, when social scientists questioned whether it was better for mothers to work or stay home. Day care workers and their clients, mostly working parents, argued that it was the quality of the care that mattered, not the setting. But the new report affirms similar results from several smaller studies in the past decade suggesting that setting does matter.
“This study makes it clear that it is not just quality that matters,” said Jay Belsky, one of the study’s principal authors…
The $200 million study is already under attack, not least by the Associated Press. The NY Times headlined their story “Poor Behavior Is Linked to Time in Day Care.” The Telegraph headline is even stronger “How nurseries still breed agression.” The AP headline? “Study Ties Child Care, Behavior Patterns.”
Worse than the headline is the AP story itself. This has to be the single worst case of burying the lede I’ve ever witnessed:
Children who got quality child care before entering kindergarten had better vocabulary scores in the fifth grade than did youngsters who received lower quality care.
Also, the more time that children spent in child care, the more likely their sixth grade teachers were to report problem behavior.
Is that not laughable? Better vocabulary scores! (Oh, and also…um, by the way…there are behavioral problems associated with day care). The AP is simply shameless.