Betty Hart died at 85.

Who, you say, is Betty Hart? I suspect you know her by her work.

She and Todd R. Risley were the researchers who discovered the fact that many middle and upper class parents talk to their babies far more–and in more positive and encouraging terms–than do many parents in poverty. And, that the lingering effect of this uneven early language development stays with children for many years and is very difficult to overcome.

The fact that early childhood education focuses on helping parents speak to their children more and more and use more words, is Betty Hart’s legacy. Her legacy is rich and lives on.

I didn’t know her name either and skipped over her obituary the first time–but I knew of her influential work. RIP, Betty Hart.

About Miriam

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA—an expert in public education, focused on special education law— is a lawyer, author, speaker, consultant, and reformer. For more than 35 years, Miriam worked with educators, parents, policy makers, and citizens to translate complex legalese into plain English and focus on good practices for children. Now, she focuses her passion on reforming special education, with her new book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law. Presentations include those at the AASA Conference, Orange County (CA), Boston College (MA), CADRE (OR), and the Fordham Institute (DC). Her writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, Education Next, Hoover Digest, The University of Chicago Law Review on line,, and The Atlantic Monthly on line.

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