tv Robert Crosnoe The Starting Line CSPAN April 25, 2021 2:01pm-2:50pm EDT
defining identities. i am the creator and host a podcast about belonging, about the life in legacy, how she is a vessel for understanding the issues of race and class and american latino identity in the u.s. thank you so much it has been so fun to be with you all. and i'm going to cherish this conversation. i hope people found informative and i hope to see you again. : : :
and i am thrilled to be talking with rob, professor of the university of texas liberal arts and centennial professor of sociology, he's a sociologist, psychologist, conducts research on child and adolescent development with focus on educational inequity. we are super excited to talk about his book, the starting
line today. this is his eighth book and rob, would you like to say a few words about yourself? >> yeah, i will just add so that. i would start off in events like this and i grew up in texas, i'm a native texan and i was educated in texas public schools and not just the suburban variety either. when i came back here 20 years to start my career studying child development and educational inequality, i was really invested in the idea that texas might be a special place and in the broad topic. i wanted to say something else that what i read in this book and what i'm going to talk about today or what we are going to talk about today is very young children going to school. i don't know if anybody has been in a preschool setting recently
but it is controlled chaos and it's hard to describe that. it takes a writer much more narrowly skilled than i am. when you're in a preschool classroom. as you know, and there's something about it that works and you feel it too. get bogged down in specifics and things like that, i force myself to remember the magical mayhem and what it feels like and what it sounds like and what it looks like and that's what keeps me going. >> yeah, i would agree with that. that's a wonderful term. i do want to mention to the audience right before we get into our conversation that if you are inspired to purchase rob's book, again, or any other books that you have in mind, we want to encourage you to contact
the nowhere book shop, independent book shop in town and they have taken a hitburg the pandemic and please keep in mind as you think about the books you're interested in purchasing. so rob, here we go. i have -- i want to start, i have notes that we talked about previously by asking you to tell us what this book is about. >> first, is that early childhood education is now broadly recognized as being an effective tool for helping children from historical disadvantaged groups succeed in k through 12 system and reducing
inequalities and learning outcomes in the system. second, the growing latinx population is considered historically to be disadvantaged group with their own obstacles and challenges in the k through 12 system for many reasons including intersection, higher than average rates of poverty and language barriers that are more likely to exist in the population. and then, third, that the public prek program in texas has done a fairly significant job of expanding access to early childhood education to large numbers of young children from growing in latinx families and expanded the access, we have to ask, what is it doing for us? really the driving questions are if we are -- if public prek is
serving, how is it serving them and how can we use the lessons in texas to help figure out what to do in the rest of the country. if you answer those questions, my team and i -- 59 elementary school, 59 classrooms and 9 elementary with public prek programs in large urban district called south western, southwest isd. i should point out that it did not refer to southwest isd in in san antonio and don't get that impression and we used protocols that are used in preschools but we spent a lot of time talking to teachers and parents and what we found falls into four basic categories. the first one is about how
classrooms activities are aligned or not within a class grade. the second is about how we can or cannot, how we have trouble building a community partnership. the third is about how social and emotional support can facilitate academic and cognitive development and the fourth is about how instruction for language can incorporate or crowd out other stimulating activities and -- and what we learned is really a story about advancement and setbacks, like successes and barriers and i truly believe in the mixture we can figure out a blueprint for moving forward here but also elsewhere. >> wonderful. you want to talk about the blueprint a little bit? >> yeah. i mean, you know, my point, the
way the bookends is i say, i break it down into 3 categories. first is what i observe. right, like what is the actual empirical data said and the second is what are less sons learned, what can we takeaway from this finding and how to apply and take the knowledge and apply and i came up with a set of recommendations if for each one. very humbled the recommendation because what i really wanted to start longer conversation, people like me, people like you, people in the classroom, people in government come together and really start formulating the plan collectively as opposed to individually. and you have ideas about it and i have ideas about it and we have to figure out the meeting point in this. >> and what i enjoyed so much in
your book is how you called attention to several of the things that you just mentioned. the english -- learning the english language while entering the public school and what that -- sort of the impact of that on a kindergarten first grade, second grade classroom teacher, right? so when -- when teachers are presented with students who speak a different language, it doesn't always have to be spanish but for purposes here it's spanish. how do they -- how do they manage the curriculum and the instruction while -- while bridging the language barrier or -- or -- yeah. and another thing that struck me in the book and i just want to put it out and we can get to it later is the importance of horizontal coordinating when children come into the system
and, you know, again my -- my police that i look through is producing a child that can read. if the public education system, we have to produce children that can read in my opinion and that is a multi-year process. and it really is what is intended to happen, kinder, first and second and even prek. so it is a multiyear process and the horizontal concept that you present seems so important to me. the language learning seemed so important to me and how we work with that reality in the classroom and, of course, i'm going to have to put a highlighter to your point of how important understanding student population in public system as a growing segment of the the population served by the public
schools, so it's so relevant what you're doing. >> i'm glad that you raised those two things actually. i should preface this by saying i use the term latinx population broadly. i typically focus mostly on the experiences of the children of immigrants from latin america especially mexico. that brings the language. the reason i thought that it was important that you link those two things together is that we tend to think, the general public. policymakers and teachers, we often think of the dual language learning or bilingual education, however you want to categorize and on the other side of it is
the general literacy challenge that we have in the country which is literacy is the foundation. i do not think i'm being hyperbolic of our democracy, our economy and we aren't doing such a great job on meeting that, you know, the needs. so that's there. the -- the dual language learning is over here but they are connected to of other. we talked to teachers and truly get -- administrators truly get into this idea of the whole child, you center have to educate the whole child, all the different things about him and that's part of having strong connections with families and communities and so i think that there's certain, much more recognition and even rewarding of the idea that dual language
learners is bilingual and it's important as you know, that's a huge for brain development and think about we get them to english. we need to get them to be bilingual. people like me, i grew up in texas where nobody thought about making you bilingual. that's the good part. this is the problem, this is something that happens throughout k through 12 system. i think it's very acute in early childhood education which teachers know and they are tasked with and evaluated on giving kids up to a level of english language that they can participate in english-only instruction in the k through 12 system and that becomes such a dominant paradigm that has the
potential to crowd out other types of things. so you had a kid who is going to school, who comes from an english-speaking background but they are getting all sorts of stimulating activity that aren't particularly just about language. like there are other kinds of literacy activities, just various things and they aren't likely to get that because there's so much -- there's only so much time in the time and a lot spent in english instruction. i have to tell you, aye witnessed teachers who are good about balancing those two things, but the norm is more in election. that's definitely an issue that we need to deal with and, again, let me say it's especially acute with 3 and 4-year-olds, you know, who are coming in as often their first exposure to the u.s.
educational system but is in english dominant or prioritizes the english language. >> so i share your view on how highly valued a bilingual individual is and multilanguage skills as well as literacy. what would you suggest the system to be doing because i think that you're right, that's what is happening, but -- but what would we do to address that? >> so, you know, there's great ideas and there's execution. sometimes the great ideas fall apart and the execution or more likely they are variably executed and some places that are doing well. you know, where you go to school, what class you end up matters. i think you can take some lessons from dual language
instruction and by dual language is the normal academic activities are taught in multiple languages or usually two languages. and so you have -- people made english-speaking homes, other homes that are altogether and they are on the same playing field or even more playing field, right, where they are both picking up languages and they are meeting in the middle so that the activity in theory can be much more focused on -- on academic-type things as opposed to the language instruction. and i think that, you know, probably won't surprise you but there are many parents who spend an awful lot of money to send their kids to that kind of program, right, because they view it as an advantage whereas sometimes in the public, we do it as something that needs to be
fixed or disadvantaged. so, you know, some of the classrooms that i observed, dual language things that have the mix of people and language of instruction with barrier cost of life and less likely to have this crowding out problem. the national evaluation protocol, different categories of quality. one of them is broadly i call it cognitive stimulation. the things that you're interested in about really back and forth dialogue between teachers and students, right? giving them where children are and bringing back literature and activities down to them and really making them think, asking follow-up questions. that sort of stuff, well, inthee
dual-language instruction is better on that and the classrooms that were historically, you know, more like what we have been english second language, they were low on that. that's what i mean when i say that there's a crowding out problem. it wasn't teachers, it was really how much more can you do in the day, right, when you have a big tasker at hand? >> right. so let me ask you this, rob, why did you decide to write this book? >> well, i will tell you. i have been studying the general topic for a long time but i started out doing it in a different way than what the book is about, in two ways, actually involved to the point where i got where i am now and i started
focusing on adolescence and high school and young adults in higher education. but i kept, i was so late. the inequalities that i was setting -- they -- we know the younger children, so i started going younger and then younger and finally studying 3 and 4-year-olds and my next study -- that's one thing. they are focused on the national level, population level analyzing national level to try to say where do we stand as a country and as a state and, you know, i really do believe that that's valuable, those are
valuable, telling us where the problem is and where we need to act, but i begin to credit like the human voice more and just seeing people how they operate in their daily lives, in this case classroom, in their local settings, unique local settings and so what i thought i would do is this child focus and very locally embedded take on this really important issue and pretty much, okay, i get that, but why texas and to that, i will always go back the audience may or may not know that there's a state and the former, she said texas today is the united states tomorrow and we look
demographically where many other states are going to look in the future, what they're going to look like in the future and the challenges that we face now and the solutions we come up with, trial and error. mistakes along the way. are less sons for the other places to try, you know, without having to go through as much trial and error and i think that that's really important. we are a bellwether state. it's a bellwether district and we just listen. you have to listen to that. that's what he will what got me in here and focused on, you know, someone said this is a narrow topic but i just don't see it that way. i think, you know, if little kids, transition into school is head of our society, i can't think of a topic.
>> absolutely. i'm familiar with the work and done a lot of work with the literacy numbers as well. they are quite sobering. >> yeah. >> so thinking about our audience today and i do want to address the audience and say, please, if you have any questions to send those in in the chat. we would love to hear from you. but thinking about our audience today who may be, you know, i'm hoping is a wide variety of individuals, wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives, why should we care about this book? >> so, you know, i think of social lives as really existing as the circles, massive layers so that everything, everything is embedded in something bigger than that which means that i can
answer this question on different layers. the first layer would be on the most intimate level is a child who needs something, that we care about that. for all of our faults as americans we do care about kids. the second one is that that child is being such waited within the system of transaction, families, schools and the communities. and so we really need to care about how that system is working and how it serves the kids. the third thing is that the system is larger economy and populist that demands skilled workers and informed voters and we know, we all know and many people in the audience probably
know that early childhood education is a way to get that. it's a way to get to that point. the starting line matters and people should care about it. haven't been around the little kids, even if they haven't been in school or preschool, that's why they care because it's going to affect them. >> yes. well, i was in agreement with so much of what you say and do. i want to bring you back, if i can, to a point you made at the beginning and i didn't write down your exact words so maybe you can correct me, but the talking about educational -- early education in particular about a tool or for equity and -- and developing a more equitable society.
i don't know what the word would be. equitable outcomes for children. i think i know i have a lot of opinions on that subject but i wanted you to maybe talk a little more about that and if you want, i will share some of my opinions, but i -- it's so important, i think, that we double click on that. >> so there is two parts on that. one is about education and general education equity and one is about -- and one about how early childhood education leads to broader discussion. i was teaching -- this is education week in my sociology class and i was giving them educational history of the united states. and one of the things i talked about, there's a famous quote that says that u.s. public education system created to be great equalizer, which is ironic in saying in quality, but and
then when we have -- little over 200 years and 200 years of history. well, we haven't been able to use the educational system in that way. it hasn't become a great, great equalizer. well, why is that? well, because the educational -- let's talk about why it can be a great equalizer. we know, we have a public education system that anybody can access and we know that how far you go in the educational is the strongest predictor of earnings, and also strongest predictor of how long you live. so really important thing and if people can get in, that's what
the whole idea of the american dream is about. the system doesn't work towards that goal. we haven't really created equality opportunity but that's just -- you know and i know that this is that way and maybe two kids in same school or attending different schools or the way the outside world can interfere and i just saw that, you know, one of the famous parents from the college admission scandal, there's so many things that you can do to game the system or be hurt by the system. so where does early childhood come in at? more and more we are thinking, if you're going to -- to get -- get kids at least starting the system on an even playing field, that's early childhood
education. all sorts of evidence by economists and other people including winner that says that interventions in educational intervention that focuses on very young children brings greater, long-term returns to the investment over the next decade, intervening than any other point in the educational system, right? why giving your focus? why remediate those -- i wouldn't say why. if you're going to choose to try and get kids reading at the beginning on an even playing field and having them start school, trying to remediate disparities later on, you are always better at the first optional and i know that you know that. [inaudible] >> people think of preschool as like entertaining and things like that which first of all --
people don't think it's real school. interestingly, one of the things that i wrote about in this book is how, you know, the public prek system in texas has the prek but many of those teachers don't think of the prek as part of the school. the prek teachers don't feel that way either. .. ..s an important point there that i wrestle with is excellent research. and about early childhood education.
about reading instruction. and yet there is a huge chasm between what happens in the research world and what happens in the classrooms on the front line of education. and i wonder just in general how are we going to, there are other industries were scientific and research advances are constantly happening. just as an education. but that information transfers much more quickly into that change in the industry. i am seeing that as a real, real deal here in education. >> innovations like you are the pride the greatest liaison tween the world research, that's the one people are not always effective. many people do it i do, do not
start off, my connection to people on the ground to educators, through the research, not before. if it happens before, it starts up what do want me to it figure out? come together to figure that out more of a dialogue on that part. and we've seen educational researchers are moving in that directions and called research practice partnerships. more people are interested in facilitating that. i would state still not the majority of people doing the research. i'll throw it out there for you all. it doesn't work that way. you know i'm here talking to now trying to do this but i
also understand that's not really my strong suit. [laughter] i need, to help build the partnerships and there's something in between that's what community is so important of every school community partnership is help make stuff happen. it's >> i'm glad you brought up the community there. that was one key feature in your book. when you talk a little bit about what you studied and learned about community school partnerships and the importance of those. >> one thing, anybody involved in education is probably heard of family school partnerships. those ideas are valid it's part of no child left behind
with the legislation. the problem with that is that sometimes the way family/school partnerships are in developed are more one-sided than the term partnership would imply. a partnership in exchange there is dialogue. and yet especially in the situation where you have low income parent, not comfortable speaking english, did not go to the schools themselves. they went to schools in mexico or other countries. they might have some level of communication with school but schools tend to take a much more directional approach. smart like talking to. let us not at the purpose of
partnership. over time, community around a school can develop knowledge about what works, right? where it's needed and how they can engage with the school how school should be engaging with the parents. parents come and go, kids graduate, but the kid immunity stays the same. so just an example of this, public school in texas free. it's free per people who meet different criteria. universal language dual learners other,. [inaudible] and so it is free, but there aren't lots of people who do not pick up that option.
i am talking who vent wrongfully disadvantaged they've never gone to your school before. how does it work in the system? volunteering, why are the kids in there and other kids or not? it's almost always that they are in a community where your kids about to be for? you need to sign up for public pre-k it's free. school starts in pre-k not kindergarten, meaning that person to talk to, right? this is what you need to watch out for. all of that knowledge is really what empowers parents. with this stop talking about family/school partnerships and
really work on that partnership. we all know just in our own lives the amount of valuable information. and so to get through them you have to topping that is where the community comes into play. spin it that is such an interesting point that i had not thought about it. i did the same thing with my own children. other moms told us what to do when they were in pre-k and kindergarten. that is the source of information for parents. >> i often ask people about high school. because i also study high schools for different topic. it's a good school bad school or whatever or preschool the sale want to get into this preschool. i often say, why? why did you say that was
good? or why would you say that was bad and talk about a question may have a lot of individuals have a sense of that the cat really articulated other than something that probably does not matter. almost always because someone they trust us told square that comes from. i've been studying this a long time. when my children started preschool and the people my neighborhood and people i trusted most. >> so that is interesting. we were to think about parents in low income neighborhoods and schools, how would that, that social network, what you consider the state of it as you have observed it and does it need to become stronger kind of things could be done to strengthen it if so.
be back home we were talking about translators and research practice partnerships. i was going to say. [inaudible] sociologist she came down actually because i believe off the top my head which one it is. they wanted to create one of these partnerships for the university school district. it was like the partnership that she ran her she had trained researchers like herself and the school goes to her or when they need things analyzed. she can bring advice about that. bring her up, she and i another person created this new dimension where they
thought the way to really improve what we are discussing now is simply to create concrete opportunity for parents and school teachers to know each other. so they would form their own network. by that, bring parents together, right? sometimes is just social ways so they have a really strong connection. and again once they have the strong connection they start using that connection. right? they start capitalizing on those. we did this experiment were randomized the reason bring it up is because it was in san antonio it was about ten years ago and they did it. and it works. they found that it worked. i think that is a really good metaphor for what we are talking about.
creating opportunity for people to build and maintain these networks were especially diverse networks. networks really matter when you have people bring things this and schools are big diverse places. >> i made a note of that note to self. we have just a few minutes left. so we have a question from the audience. i would like to encourage if anyone else's questions to submit them now. maria asks, do you have recommendations to help early education build a strong literacy foundation? she wouldn't take that wanted you and me? >> i just want to say that social dynamics and classrooms. the patterns of engagement between parents and teachers, teachers and kids and kids and
kids. hoback and authoritative the goal. literacy is an academic goal. [inaudible] and i know you do. i'm going to throw that to you. >> i just want to say that i think in candor, first, second greatest of the academic goal, the period not sure there's a whole lot of other. you can always augment it. but is the core goal. and so what we know from fine reachers like yourself who study the human brain and how we learn to read, is there is a very specific way to teach children successfully to read. and that research has not yet made it into the mainstream public school system.
and so we know up here in austin are commissioner has now mated candor, first, second, third, and the principal learned about this research the texas reading academy. but, if you are a public school educator or in a public school system he want to learn more about the texas academy can always come to our website and will be happy to explain a lot more about how important early education literacy skill building is. how explicit and systematic it needs to be. there is a lot of training that is involved in somewhat retraining of teachers to get that implemented successfully in our system. that is a gap i see.
i also see our government working to close the gap has most other states across the country. really critical because the population, rob, you have studied and written so well about, they do not have a lot of fact channel access to that kind of instruction, the school system does not provide it. >> you mentioned brain research in brain development it's critical role in literacy, you know, the thing about knowledge about the brain are research about the brain is people find it very if you move to brain development, but i'm interested in how the brain works is harsh. the balance but i'm wondering what you are seeing in the filtering downward, how good of a job are we doing about,
not just saying the brain is important but actually explaining accessible to me, accessible to you accessible to other people, how it actually works. are you satisfied with that? >> you mean whose we? >> you. me personally? i would say i have not done it yet but we are working on it. i would say what i have done is really studied the research. and i have worked with the school and the teachers and the family because typically here at the book festival we are bringing family to the festival in person. but, when i have come to understand is that the researches they are, but it has not been packaged in a way
that makes it accessible to the public. and so, if you want to know what i will be working on this summer and my team is working on is how to help teachers understand that aspect of it. it is the why to the way we teach reading. if we understand the complexity of the brain and that neural pathways that must be developed explicitly. we did not a ball to magically look at images on print and convert that to something that we understand as reading. our brains didn't evolve to learn to speak through immersion. and we learn to walk naturally. but we did not evolve to learn to read naturally. so we have to be very intentional about how we work with children who are learning to read. it's a skilled very technical.
>> this is where alignment that she mentioned earlier comes into play. getting together and making sure what they're doing builds and adds to the foundation. and that is easier said than done. so building that. >> yes and i've added one of the things that resonated so much with me in your book. is if teachers understood what they were doing preparing the child for the next great and the next grade and the next grade and how that all links together that will be very powerful for the child's outcome and i think for the school system. [inaudible] >> out of time. thank you all very much for coming. thank you rob for being here. don't forget to, the bookstore
if you want to purchase robson book, thank you all so much. >> thank you so much. i guess we ended i can't believe it i thought we would not, are you back kayleigh? >> will more question. chelsea asks, where will your research take you next? >> coin in a very different direction that i just talked about which is, i am part of a big group of people that is doing intervention to help kids on the national level to help teenagers think differently about their own intelligence. and that has a big effect on achievement in general. especially from low income background minority kids who help them navigate the system better.
but we found out at the teachers of the students don't have the same thoughts about intellectual ability blocks their kids from deriving the benefit of changing the way they read. doing intervention with texas public to try to get teachers to start thinking no such thing as us market or dumb kid. all there is his potential. if you can do that, then we have kids on that and teachers on that were pretty confident. >> i also study how teenagers have trouble socially in high school which is a very different >>. >> now that both of my kids are teenagers i completely think these are important topics to understand. [laughter] that