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):
We are thrilled to have Marcy Whitebook, PhD, join us again in response to her recent whitepaper "Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages".Marcy began her career as a teacher of young children in the 1970s. Over the last four decades, she has been engaged in research, public education, policy development, training, and advocacy efforts focused on the early care and education workforce. She now directs the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) at the University of California, Berkeley.
A tremendous round of applause to the many advocates and government officials, including Teachstone’s partners at the Early Childhood Education Consortium (ECEC) and all of those in the Office of Child Care, who worked tirelessly for a bicameral, bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The slightly modified House version passed the Senate at the end of the day on Monday and was signed into law by President Obama on Wednesday.
Until all children in America have access to high quality, developmentally appropriate early childhood experiences, and until all early childhood providers and teachers receive the training and financial support they require to ensure their commitment and competence, as many advocates as possible are needed to speak out on behalf of children. – Adele Robinson and Deborah Stark, Advocates in Action (NAEYC 2005)
When DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, along with DOE Secretary Arne Duncan, announced the Preschool Development Grants competition as part of the Preschool for All in early February 2014, she asked for help. Her request? That all of us in the early childhood community find our roles in the grant process and assist applicants to ensure the best possible quality programs are developed and expanded for preschoolers. She called on those able to step up if able to provide “wraparound help”—and Teachstone is heeding that call.
Twenty-five years ago, quality teaching in early childhood classrooms meant providing a safe place for children to play, with stimulating materials and books to read. Today, we have provided those basics in most early childhood classrooms, and our focus has shifted to the hows of quality—how teachers interact with children, how they use time and materials to get the most out of every moment, and how they ensure that children are engaged and stimulated.
Summer is in full swing in Charlottesville. The kids are in camp and the grant writing season has officially arrived. Like many of you, I have been searching the Internet, talking to colleagues, and using any fortune telling powers I have at my fingertips to determine when the Preschool Development Grants will—as we say in grant land—"drop."
With mixed emotions, I just put my children on the bus for the last time for this school year. Part of me is happy to have a brief reprieve from the 7 a.m. walk to the bus stop and to begin the extended evenings of swimming, bike riding, and neighborhood walks. The other side of me is sad to see another year ending and to realize I know have a third grader and a seventh grader(!). I think to myself—like every mother does this time of year—where has the time gone?