A team of UC Irvine researchers has received an $828,000 grant from the California Postsecondary Education Commission for a project aimed at improving English and arts education in kindergarten through second grade classrooms. Spanning a four year period, the project will involve 180 teachers and impact more than 7,000 students in the San Diego Unified School District.  
Lead researchers Liane Brouillette, educational leadership associate professor, and Kristen Monroe, political science professor and director of the Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality, will develop curriculum and, beginning fall 2008, provide professional development training for K-2 educators on how to incorporate art into classroom lessons as a way to strengthen students' English language skills. Techniques will include the use of storytelling, drawing, music and other methods of creative expression to reinforce language skills development.  
For Monroe, a political economist who studies moral choice, the project provides another element. "Children's books do an excellent job of tackling key moral and ethical issues," she says. In addition to analyzing the project's effect on language skills, she will be studying how the morals of the stories themselves are perceived and acted upon by the students, and whether including stories -- such as Dr. Zeuss's story of the sneetches with "stars upon thars" and the story of the Butter Battle -- can foster better treatment of diverse groups among the children.

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