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.
At Teachstone, we talk to a lot of educators. From coast to coast and around the globe, there’s a common thread that unites them: wanting to be better for their students.
Even when things are tough in education, even in years made even more challenging by the pandemic and its effects on teaching and learning, educators are striving to be their best. That dedication to equitable, ongoing development is what inspires Teachstone’s work. To reach the day when all children are afforded excellent education and care, it’s going to take a systematic, data-driven approach, and we are enthusiastic partners in getting there.
By the end of every summer, the education world erupts with talk about back-to-school. This year was no different. The air was full of optimism. Vaccines had rolled out, many of us took our first vacation in a year and a half, and my inbox was full of the “best back to school” sales. Sadly, as quickly as many schools welcomed children back into the classroom with open arms, they were forced to close again due to increases in COVID-19 infections.
Admins, teachers, students, and families alike may be feeling concerned, cautiously optimistic, pessimistic, or confused. If you’re like me, you might feel all of the above all at once. But, I am taking comfort in knowing that this year, we are armed with more data.
Teachstone applauds the removal of three Confederate statues in Charlottesville, VA. Our organization is headquartered in this Southern city and we have seen first-hand the visceral reaction evoked by these tributes to figureheads of the Lost Cause movement. While the cause of the Confederacy in the Civil War has been lost, the war on racism has not yet been won.
Every state, every district, every school, every teacher faced decisions that they had never anticipated in the last academic year. As the end of the 2020-2021 school year approaches, it’s time to reflect on those decisions, learn from others, and prepare for the fall ahead.