Subscribe: Newsletters | Podcasts | RSS

Contact: Jacqueline Cartier
(651) 290-1113


ST. PAUL, MN (June 1, 2010) American RadioWorks (ARW) from American Public Media is being honored with a RTDNA/UNITY Award for excellence in the coverage of diversity. The award was announced May 26 by the Radio Television Digital News Association in partnership with UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc.

The winning documentary, produced by Emily Hanford and edited by Catherine Winter, examines the stunning results from the Perry Preschool Project - one of the most famous education experiments of all time. Fifty years later, the original researchers are still collecting data and asking questions about the results. "Early Lessons" traces the roots of the modern preschool movement, and explores how preschool helped prevent a group of poor African American children from failing in school.

In the 1950's, David Weikart, working as a school administrator in Michigan, discovered how poorly many African-American children were doing in the classroom. With the goal of boosting IQ scores, Weikart set up the Perry Preschool in 1962, when preschool itself was still a new idea. The innovation marked the dawn of a new way of thinking about education.

Student IQs increased significantly, up until the age of eight when scores leveled out. However, the Project uncovered other surprising effects on the lives of the children who went there, including better attitudes toward school, higher performance on achievement tests, and lower drop out rates. Later in life, the Perry students were more likely to be employed, own homes, and to be more satisfied with their relationships. The most stunning result was the effect the Perry Preschool had on crime. The odds of a Perry student being arrested by age 40 were half as great as their non-preschool counterparts. Economists and education experts say this research has implications for all levels of education, and that doing well in school, and in life, is about more than just a test score.

"We are very proud of the many journalistic achievements of American RadioWorks, and are thrilled to see Early Lessons chosen as one of this year's Unity Awards," said Judy McAlpine, American Public Media's senior vice president of content. "The changing nature of education and learning is one of the most important issues facing the country today, and we plan to continue our sharp focus in this critical area."

Audio, transcripts, photos and additional articles from "Early Lessons" can be accessed in their entirety at

The RTDNA/UNITY Award honors outstanding achievements in media's coverage of diversity, recognizing organizations for "ongoing commitment to covering the cultural diversity of the communities they serve." This is the fourth Unity Award win for American RadioWorks. Previous awards went to "Fast Food and Animal Rights" (2002), "Whose Vote Counts?" (2003) and "Say It Plain" (2005). Among this year's other RTNDA/Unity Award winners are CNN and WBEZ- Chicago Public Radio. A complete list of winners is available at

American RadioWorks is American Public Media's award winning documentary program. Based in St. Paul, Minn., ARW creates documentaries, series projects and investigative reports for the public radio system and the Internet. Its hour-long specials provide in-depth reporting on public affairs and social and cultural subjects. Support for Early Lessons came from The Spencer Foundation. American RadioWorks is on the Web at