Greetings! One of my New Year’s resolutions is to blog more than last year. While I’m not the most prolific, when I do post, please know it comes from the heart. And, there’s nothing I’m more passionate about than Head Start and its mission to support young children and families through a program of comprehensive services that can move mountains for our most vulnerable young children.
When I was a National Head Start Fellow, I got to know the then staff serving at the Head Start Bureau (now the Office of Head Start, or OHS) in DC. I found out OHS was filled with dedicated child advocates who shared my lifelong passion to ensure all young children have the opportunities to thrive and succeed in this wonderful yet challenging world. It's a world that is undeniably more challenging for some more than others, especially young children starting life in poverty. While the staff may have changed a bit, the commitment from OHS to give young children the best “head start” in life continues.
We applaud OHS for its recent request for information, proposing changes and asking for feedback and fresh ideas on how to redesign and strengthen the Designation Renewal System (DRS) to improve transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness. I’m pleased to share our comments (attached) submitted to OHS on the proposed changes to the use of CLASS in Head Start monitoring and in the DRS.
Some key recommendations in our comments:
Please review our comments and share your thoughts/questions with me. I look forward to hearing from you.
The violence of the past days has reminded us all that we must be vigilant in denouncing hate and speaking out against it. I encourage everyone who cares about our courageous country and experiment in democracy to get out and vote on November 6th! Paraphrasing from an editorial in the Hartford Courant today, the strength of our united character is being put to the test. We must speak up, and no better way to do so than voting or encouraging others to do so. Truly great educators are those who never give up. I am not ready to give up on our country as a land that holds such great promise of freedom and justice for all, beginning with our youngest ones who cannot vote but will live in the world we are creating with every action or inaction.
Take heart! For too long, one of the least heartening perspectives on the federal government budget came from early childhood education advocates, who, year in and year out, felt left out of the political dialogue during budget talks. They were either ignored or, worse, the recipients of unwanted attention as federal spending on education was slashed or level-funded as costs increased. However, during a time when we see much division in our country, especially coming out of Washington, D.C., it actually is a bit –just a bit – encouraging to look at early childhood education programs which are garnering more and more bipartisan support.
The statistics around exclusionary discipline practices, like suspension or expulsion, are grim. Kids who get kicked out, especially repeatedly, are often already behind academically, become less engaged in school, and are monumentally more likely to drop out of high school. And while exclusionary discipline affects all students, it’s essential to keep in mind that children of color are suspended and expelled at rates disproportionate to their white peers.
Early childhood folks are a special breed. We know how great an impact our work can have (Perry Preschool Program! Abecedarian! Heckman!), and we’re proud of it. At the same time, we’re aware that when children leave our classrooms, we have no control over the rest of their educational experiences. The fadeout effect—when children’s gains from preschool diminish in elementary school—has shown up in several large studies, including the Head Start Impact Study and a randomized control trial in Tennessee.