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.
I wanted to publicize how we came together as a country in a unified national response to say no to this practice. A practice that disregarded children’s fundamental needs and flew in the face of our core beliefs at Teachstone, with our mission of ensuring effective interactions and relationships between children and adults.
Then, fast forward to yesterday, when I was in a meeting discussing a common definition of quality early childhood care and education and blithely agreed that baseline health and safety did not need to be included – too basic, I thought! We needed to raise the bar and elevate the conversation on quality, and in 2019 in the USA, essential health and safety standards should be in place and might distract from the core messages around interactions, teacher compensation and support, family engagement, leadership support, etc.
Then, today hit. I read the Inspector General’s report on conditions at the border. I read Save the Children’s and NAEYC’s powerful statements. Basic health and safety needs of children were once again front and center in my mind (and clearly not every child has access to them). I checked in with my moral compass, my elderly dad, who reminded me of all that he has seen in his lifetime, and who told me he could not believe the conditions in which we are holding children in the USA, today, in 2019. And, he said to me, there is work to do – there are resources to do it. And, I spoke to Manda, who again said, this is too close to home for me, living in Texas. But, in reality, it is too close to home for all of us, and much too close to our Teachstone home where we hold the care and nurturing of children to be sacred.
Please join us and our partners (see this comprehensive list of organizations working on immigration issues affecting children and families) in urging changes to how children and families are treated on our 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.
Decades of evidence indicate that high-quality early childhood education positively affects children. Yet studies reveal that too few programs implement high-quality programming. To date, improvement efforts have primarily focused on what occurs within the classroom. The Ounce of Prevention Fund (Ounce), in partnership with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (UChicago Consortium), strives to broaden the focus of improvement efforts beyond the classroom to organizational conditions that support teachers and the relationships among staff, children, and families.