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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET AMERICA DISCOVERS POVERTY the minefield of extraordinarily difficult options that might be needed to actually address poverty. The pioneers of early child- hood education for children in poverty really were onto some- thing very important. It had long been known, for example, that early childhood was an especially critical period in the life of every individual. Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget had demonstrated earlier in the twentieth century that the ways in which human beings think and process information during early childhood was significantly different than how we accomplish these same tasks during the school years and throughout adulthood. Piaget and almost every other theorist in human development agreed on the basic principle that experi- ences during early childhood could affect outcomes for the rest of a person’s life. The founders of Head Start quite correctly targeted early child- hood as the window of opportunity to make lifelong changes in the lives of children. It made sense, and still does, that if poor chil- dren whose early experiences in home and neighborhood were substantially different from those of middle-income children were provided experiences that closely replicated those of their more affluent counterparts, then these children could also succeed. As Head Start expanded, as preschool and child care became commonplace, and as the money spent on them grew exponentially, the nascent field of child development exploded, and research into critical questions gathered considerable impetus. Was there a phys- iological basis for the differences in thinking between very young children and children seven and older that had been observed by Piaget? Can we identify those specific early experiences that predict success? Can these experiences actually be provided by institutions such as Head Start and public school systems? 5 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL