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Reflections on the White House Summit on Early Childhood Education

11 Dec 2014 by Amy Stephens Cubbage
As I reflected on yesterday's momentous day for early childhood education in the US, several key quotes and ideas stuck in my mind from the many eloquent speakers I heard. They happen to fit nicely into an acrostic poem (INTERACTIONS):
 
I wasn’t challenged enough (what kids regret the most coming out of some high schools).
 
Need the kind of professional development where people are not afraid to fail
 
Ten out of ten four year olds should be enrolled in a high quality ECE program
 
Eight to one: $8 back on every $1 invested in early childhood education
 
Responsive and stimulating and stable adult-child relationships and interactions
 
A caring adult is very important.
 
Children tend to become what you expect of them.
 
Three out of ten four-year-olds are currently enrolled in a high quality ECE program.
 
If you have a really effective teacher who is well-trained, children learn more.
 
On professional development: co-create with teachers
 
New commitments of investments of $330 million from foundations
 
Seize the moment!
 
But, the one phrase that I can’t get out of my head, is “preaching to the choir.” We heard it several times yesterday.
 
Who is this choir? Is it my mother's generation, those who graduated in the first classes of early childhood training programs in the 1950s? Is it the researchers from academia, crusaders for investments in critically important research about the brain's exponential development from birth to age five?
 
How does the "choir," as both the President and Vice President referred to those of us participating both in Washington, D.C., and remotely, stay energized and focused?
 
How does it feel to be the choir today? For all of you reading this, who are working in the field or have made the commitment to support the field, what are you thinking after the summit? Did you think “ho-hum, same old, same old," or did you think, “Yes, the tide is with us—we have, for the first time in a long time, bipartisan support and commitment,” as the local Ohio sheriff expressed during his comments on the panel for Public Investment Leadership to Expand Early Education?
 
The answer is simple, and it’s a phrase that I often used in working with children when I was an exhausted teacher putting in my 8th hour of the day and then later in working with teachers when they were overwhelmed and burned out: we must never give up. We cannot give up on children, and we can’t give up on behalf of those who care and educate them.
 
In this historic time for early childhood education, I know that we will and we must seize the moment. As Vice President Joe Biden said in his closing remarks, the choir better get preaching!
 
Thank you for being the choir: those who live and breathe their commitment to care and educate the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society each and everyday. All of us at Teachstone salute you!
 

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