At the end of February, I had the great privilege of attending the annual National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Public Policy Forum as part of my state team, the Connecticut Association for the Education of Young Children (CTAEYC). The field was well-represented: teaching staff and administrators, as well as professional development providers and advocates from a non-profit campus-based child care center, a family child care, a non-profit hospital-based child care center, a for-profit child care center, and two training, support, and research centers for early childhood programs in Connecticut.
We spent a day in intensive public policy/advocacy training and then went onto the Hill in force, state teams from nearly every state in the country, visiting members of our congressional delegations. We met with staff from nearly all the congressional offices, focusing on three primary public policy initiatives to help improve access and quality for all children and families. We used talking points carefully drafted by NAEYC, asking for:
The evening of February 28, as we all left our nation’s capital energized and ready to head home to our states, we were heartened to hear President Trump, in his Joint Address to Congress include statements about education, and early childhood education, specifically, saying, “My administration wants to work with members of both parties to make child care accessible and affordable… .”
Now, a couple of weeks later, President Trump released his budget blueprint to outline the Administration’s priorities and guide budget discussions. It includes reductions in the funding of the two federal departments housing most of the early childhood education/child care programs, the Department of Education (by about 13%) and the Department of Health and Human Services (by about 18%).
How will this affect the programs we support and, most importantly, the children and families who depend on high-quality care and education? We welcome your thoughts on the federal budget and your individual states’ efforts to preserve and even grow funding to support the clear benefits of investing in education for both individual children and their families and society as a whole.
A year ago, urged on by my insightful new colleague, Manda Klein, who was born and raised in Texas, I wrote a blog entitled, At Our Core. It praised the bipartisan efforts to discontinue the practice of separating children from their parents and caregivers at our country’s borders.
It’s been a great year. You have just conducted some professional development trainings for the group of teachers you are coaching. You got the opportunity to visit their classrooms and see them in action, do formal and informal CLASS observations, and had countless coaching conversations. You see that it’s all beginning to click. You have the teachers’ buy-in, and the motivation is high.
On a hot summer day in July 2016, I had the good fortune of being the one not on vacation on our small policy and research team. Instead, I went to DC to serve as Teachstone’s representative for a convening of policymakers, researchers, and ECE practitioners. They were gathering to discuss if and how exemplary Head Start grantees might be identified for Leading by Exemplar, an initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and led by Bellwether Education Partners.