Since I joined Teachstone over three years ago, I have eagerly listened to the State of the Union Address—always with a hopeful mind and heart—waiting to hear the mission of high quality early childhood education woven into the framework of the annual speech. As a teacher, a faculty member, a researcher, a mother, and now a leader in an education company, I know the difference that high quality education focused on the early childhood years can make, and I am committed to doing everything in my power to move this mission forward. I now use the Address as a barometer for measuring the priority level early childhood education has within the national platform for the year that follows.
I still remember the goose bumps I felt during the 2013 State of the Union Address when President Obama spoke those memorable words that sky rocketed early education into the dinner conversations of Republicans, Democrats, Independents and everyone in between:
Tonight, I propose working with states to make high quality preschool available to every child in America. . . . Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can't afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives.
A year later, as I reflected in my blog on the 2014 State of the Union Address, I was disappointed in the lack of optimism that President Obama shared in regarding the road forward for early childhood education. His frustration with Congress was evident in his voice and his words as he noted, “and as Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K they need." It was evident that even he doubted if his dream to “change the odds for all our kids” would be fulfilled during his presidency.
Fast forward to Tuesday night when a reenergized President took the podium for the 2015 State of the Union. I not only had goose bumps, but I also had tears in my eyes as a recommitted President echoed his early campaign and inauguration speeches on the promise of change for all children and families.
He boldly stated what all of us who are parents, teachers and directors know but few Americans outwardly acknowledge.
In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have—it’s a must-have. So it’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or as a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available and more affordable for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America.
As I noted Monday in my first blog post of the year, 2015: Is Going to be a Wild Ride, there are many factors coming together this year including Preschool Development and Expansion Funding, Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Funding that have the opportunity to truly change the face of early childhood education in the United States. It is an exciting time, but it will also be a challenging time. I know that many times each week I struggle with the weight of what we are trying to do. When you are at your darkest moment with one more lesson plan to write, one more meeting to attend, one more budget to balance, remember the words President Obama uttered below to inspire you to push forward to we make this mission a reality.
I want our actions to tell every child in every neighborhood, your life matters, and we are committed to improving your life chances as committed as we are to working on behalf of our own kids. . . . Everybody matters. I want them to grow up in a country that shows the world what we still know to be true: that we are still more than a collection of red states and blue states; that we are the United States of America.
I am honored to work with each and every one of you to achieve this mission and make a difference today, tomorrow, and every day for our children and the children of our country.
Continued good luck in 2015 and keep hanging on for the wild ride!
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.
To those in the education world, it’s not news that our schools, our systems, and our students are struggling. For nearly 40 years, since the publication of A Nation At Risk, we’ve recognized as a country that something isn’t working.
For more than a century after the United States’ colonization, school was intended for children who were overwhelmingly wealthy, white, male, and English-speaking - those demographics are no longer the case. Students today are representative of all our nation’s families, but our history means there’s a mismatch between what education has done up to this point and what children really need. What’s more, advances in science - psychology, medicine,
neuroscience, economics, and more - have shown us that to give children the greatest opportunity we must change what we’re doing. We can’t let another 40 years pass while we figure it out.
At Teachstone, our driving vision is to ensure every child experiences life-changing teaching. This mission is why we’re making a commitment to restabilize and improve education for every child, and every educator. And, we know that bringing this commitment to life requires providing education leaders with the support they need to not only face the current challenges, but that will propel towards the future of quality and equity.
Given the context of today’s educational landscape, the global pandemic we are still fighting, and the divides our country is facing, strong leadership is essential. There is a clear need to restabilize and improve education for every child, and every educator. But, what does that mean exactly for educational leaders who are leading the way?