With new flowers popping up all over and bunnies hopping across our laws, babies are on our minds. And apparently it’s not just us. News and information about infants and toddlers and their care and education is all over the place. So we wanted to share some of the best new stuff out there.
In an effort to bring together much of the research around the importance of investing in young children and their families, the consequences for the US of failing to do so, and the benefits we’d reap if we did, a team of EPI researchers and BBA’s Elaine Weiss jointly produced It’s Time for a National Investment in America’s Children. As BBA has long emphasized, bringing our nation into line with our Western peers in terms of such basic family supports as paid parental leave, accessible high-quality child care, and pre-k that is available to all children, not only those lucky enough to have parents who can pay for it, would go a long way toward leveling the academic playing field, not to mention boosting the economy in numerous ways.
Last week, BBA and the Learning Policy Institute got a first-hand look at a district embedding quality early childhood education in its comprehensive school improvement plan. We visited Frederick County, VA, where superintendent David Sovine has adopted the Bright Futures USA framework to meet all children’s basic needs, engage the entire community to support students and schools, and make service learning a core part of education, and is also working to enhance ECE. Last year, the district made full-day kindergarten the norm for its 13,000 students, and leaders are now working to leverage state pre-k dollars to get all kids ready to learn on the first day. By incorporating teacher and student input into the gorgeous new middle school that will serve the district’s most disadvantaged students starting next year, Frederick County is also ensuring that those early benefits it is carefully cultivating continue to grow.
For the young (or young at heart, or anyone who cares about improving childcare in the US), Young Invincibles and Generation Progress are co-hosting a “Millennial Month of Action” throughout the month of May. They kicked it off with a May 2nd #MillennialMon Twitter Chat about on-campus childcare. Stay posted for a variety of actions, including a sign-on letter, infographics and some more social media pushes!
And next month, the National Family and Community Engagement Conference takes place in Pittsburgh. Among the terrific opportunities offered are a series of sessions on all things early childhood with a who’s who of speakers. Featured plenaries include the important role parents plan in early learning, led by Annie E. Casey’s Ralph Smith, Portia Kennel of the Buffett Early Learning Fund, and the Brazelton Institute’s Jayne Singer. Erin Ramsey of Mind in the Making, New America’s Lisa Guernsey, and Michael Levine of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center discuss a range of innovative strategies to get parents involved.
The latest in the podcast series for the American Institutes for Research’s Education Policy Center is jointly produced by AIR researcher Eboni Howard and AIR researcher and BBA Advisory Board member Peter Cookson. In Episode Two: How do we Ensure High-Quality Early Childhood Experiences for all Kids? they discuss disparities in access to quality early education and the brain science and economic benefits of ensuring it’s available for all children. They also touch on the issue of targeted versus universal pre-k.
Finally, for those who want a basic primer on how poverty and education interact early in life, BBA offers its third MOOC session: The Influence of Poverty on Early Childhood Education and Gaps. Whether you’re new to the topic (start with Required Reading), want to dig a bit deeper (Optional is for you), or prefer to talk through the issue with good friends over crackers and cheese (which should lead you to our monthly Book Club offering), there’s something in this one for you and everyone you know, so share it widely! (And don’t forget our first two great MOOC sessions).
Thank you, as always, for your dedication to ensuring that all children receive a rich, comprehensive education and have the support they need to fulfill their potential. We look forward to continuing to work with you in 2015 and beyond, and to keep you informed of activities and policies that support a Broader, Bolder Approach to Education. Don’t forget to share our Facebook posts and follow us on Twitter!