I recognize and admit to having a chip on my shoulder about the field of early childhood education - and, at times, disbelief that others may not see that period of time as the power-packed years in our developmental timeline which can lay the groundwork and set the course for much of the rest of our lives.
I admit to writing letters to the editor, over the many years I’ve been in the ECE field, when I see an investment in education for K-12 alongside another cut in early childhood education.
I admit that I used to say that when my kids turn 8, I’m not so sure I’ll know what to do with them (they have survived, and you guessed it, I attribute that to all the good work done in early childhood!).
I’m an unabashed early childhood education advocate, and when the Dalios Foundation in Connecticut recently gave $100 million to support secondary education and beyond, I wrote yet another letter, applauding it, but asking what about the billions in return you might get if you also gave that same investment in early childhood education?
So, when I woke up to the news last Friday morning and read that Tabitha Rosproy was the first early childhood educator to be named as the National Teacher of the Year, I paused.
Doesn’t everyone know that this is where it’s at? Birth to 5, birth to 8, we know, right? I had to ask myself, has it really taken until 2020 to recognize an early childhood educator as our National Teacher of the Year? The evidence over the last 30 years and more is abundant: early childhood education is education - it is a period of great learning and important teaching - and, in fact, we increase the impact of investments in education when we focus on the early years.
And, yet, our actions indicate that, really, we don’t know or are not willing to act upon what we know. Too often, our actions don’t reflect an understanding of early childhood education—the education and care of our youngest members of society—as a critical part of our overall education and family support system. Instead, we squander our future—by squandering the future of all young children.
Each time we allow another piece of legislation to take precedence, another social good to be funded while child care goes without, another year to go by without recognizing an early childhood educator as a teacher of the year, we demonstrate a lack of commitment to this incredibly important age span.
And, those in the early childhood education field wait, and they wait patiently.
But, in a shining bright spot this year, a year filled with much gloom thus far, the national committee recognized an early childhood educator as our National Teacher of the Year. In this, we may all find a reason to celebrate, and hope, for changes to come.
As we reemerge from the current coronavirus crisis, may we find a new way to honor the entire early childhood education field with greater investments and recognition of all who care and educate our youngest children.
Whether you are writing your transition plan, preparing to return, or have already returned to in-person learning, you, like many other educational leaders, are likely facing many challenges and unknowns.
As you continue to craft and refine your plans, reflecting on the considerations below can help you more effectively build a blueprint for a successful reopening.
In the wake of the widespread civil unrest after the killing of George Floyd, the national conversation about the inequities in the educational opportunities provided white students and students of color has been amplified. Due to racial and socioeconomic segregation, Black students, and other students of color, are more likely to attend poorly funded schools. EdBuild, a non-profit focused on fair and equitable school funding, reports that high poverty school districts that predominantly enroll children of color receive on average, $1,600 less per student than the national average. By their calculations, there is a $23,000,000,000 gap between funding for schools that primarily serve high poverty Black students and those that predominantly serve white students. Schools that predominantly serve high poverty white students, only receive $1440 less per student (EdBuild, 2019).
Since the coronavirus has disrupted many of our in-person plans, you might be trying to figure out how you can transition in-person coaching to online coaching. Online coaching can open a number of doors for coaches and teachers that might not be an option in face-to-face work.