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WENDY LOCKER: NOTHING ABSTRACT ABOUT THE LESSONS OF PLAY

6/10/2017

Read Wendy Locker’s insightful article, as published in the Stamford Advocate, at http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Nothing-abstract-about-the-lessons-11208722.php

WHY PLAY IS VITAL IN PRESCHOOL: DEY’S RESPONSE TO THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORT SUPPORTING FLASH CARDS OVER FREE PLAY

6/6/2017

DEY Senior Advisor and Wheelock College professor, Dr. Diane Levin, writes DEY’s response:

At Defending the Early Years (DEY; www.deyproject.org) we work to promote appropriate educational practice in early childhood. Dana Goldstein’s May 30th article, “Free Play or Flashcards? New Study Nods to More Rigorous Preschools” (NY Times, 5/30/17) now not solely left us puzzled however raised quite a few necessary questions.

Should a study that found a 2½-month gain in academic skills when taught in preschool influence early childhood policy and practice? How can one argue for giving up big chunks of playtime for academic teaching to make such minimal gains in academic performance—with little consideration of what other areas might have lost out because of the focus on academic skills?  Studies of Head Start programs that taught academic skills to preschoolers in the 1960’s and 1970’s found that gains made in academic performance over children in more play-based Head Start programs were generally gone by second grade (i.e., “fade-out effect,” as mentioned in the article).  Furthermore, research in many European countries, which do not start formal reading instruction until age seven, shows that starting formal teaching of reading earlier has little benefit.

Play-based early childhood packages are all-too-often misunderstood.  Just having performed in a preschool is no longer enough, as  all play is not the same.  When a toddler dabbles from one undertaking to another, tries out one cloth and then the next, and/or does the identical pastime day-after-day, this is no longer high-quality play or, necessarily, even play.  And, even when a infant does grow to be extra completely engaged in an recreation that develops over time and is significant play, instructors have a necessary position in facilitating the play to assist the infant take it further.  The trainer additionally makes choices about how to combine greater formal early literacy and math competencies into the play—for instance, with the aid of assisting a baby dictate testimonies about his portray and pointing out some of the key phrases and letters involved, etc.   The instructor can then assist the infant “read” the story at a type meeting.  With block building, the instructor and toddler would possibly talk about shapes, as she tries to locate the proper structure for her structure.

This variety of intentional teacher-facilitated gaining knowledge of thru play contributes to the many foundational capabilities youth want for later college success, together with self-regulation, social skills, creativity, unique thinking, oral language development, eye-hand coordination, pre-literacy and math skills, and superb attitudes towards problem-solving.  And, in the lengthy run, these foundational capabilities are a good deal greater necessary for how youth will experience about and operate later in college than the 2½ months obtain they may attain from the early ability coaching obtained in preschool, as pronounced in the  New York Times article.

Rather than debating over free play versus flashcards, perhaps we should be asking the bigger questions:

  1. Why are years of research on the benefits of quality play in preschool programs so often ignored?
  2. Why is it assumed that educational capabilities are so necessary to emphasize in preschool instead than a focal point on the improvement of the “whole child” and foundational capabilities that put together young people for faculty success in the later years?
  3. Why are play and learning so often treated as if they are dichotomous, as they seem to be in this report?

NETWORK FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION RELEASES ITS NPE TOOLKIT: SCHOOL PRIVATIZATION EXPLAINED

4/26/2017

This comprehensive toolkit will answer questions about charter schools and school privatization.

HIGH SCHOOL SHOULD BE MORE LIKE PRESCHOOL

4/8/2017

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Secondary education is now borrowing ideas from early childhood. Published April 7, 2017, in The Hechinger Report, read the full article here.

KINDERGARTEN READINESS ASSESSMENTS

4/4/2017

DON’T USE KINDERGARTEN READINESS ASSESSMENTS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY

More than forty states both have or are in the manner of growing Kindergarten Readiness Assessments (KRA), a device to measure children’s readiness for kindergarten. While KRAs have countless advantages for educating and learning, the outcomes can additionally be used inappropriately, in accordance to a latest Ounce of Prevention Fund report, “ Uses and Misuses of Kindergarten Readiness Assessments.
Read the entire article here.

STOP HUMILIATING TEACHERS

2/22/2017

“Stop Humiliating Teachers” by David Denby was published in the Feb. 11, 2017 issue of The New Yorker.

DEY ISSUES A STATEMENT OPPOSING BETSY DEVOS’ NOMINATION FOR SECRETARY OF EDUCATION

1/27/2017

DEY is issuing a announcement in opposition to the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. 
 
DeVos showed in her hearing testimony on January 17th that she is profoundly unqualified to serve as Secretary of Education. She was unable to answer basic questions or address controversial issues. But, most importantly, she is against public education and, instead, wants to privatize public education.  DeVos has a proven history of supporting efforts that discriminate against low-income communities and communities of color.  At DEY, we support the equal opportunity of every young child for an excellent education.  We are especially concerned that DeVos will undermine the national and state efforts to promote universal preschool public education. 
 
For extra records about advocacy for terrific public education, go to DEY’s internet site at  www.deyproject.org.

ECE POLICY MATTERS’ SUSAN OCHSHORN DISCUSSES BETSY DE VOS NOMINATION AND DEY’S LATEST REPORT, “TEACHERS SPEAK OUT”

1/22/2017

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THE POWER OF THEIR VOICES: EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHERS TALK SCHOOL REFORM

(originally published on Jan. 19, 2017)

A former preschool instructor carried the torch for democracy at the affirmation listening to for Betsy DeVos, Donal Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education.  “The Senate ought to to be a rubber stamp, Patty Murray said.  We owe it t the American humans to put households and kids first, now not billionaires.”

Those have been warfare phrases from the mild-mannered senator from Washington State, and senior Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee.  Especially with Microsoft and Amazon amongst her pinnacle marketing campaign contributors from 2011 to 2016.   But as the outcomes of our latest election attest, women’s ascent to energy is convoluted.  The pacts we make can be Faustian: these days, a former Microsoft government runs Washington’s branch of early learning.

In the week earlier than the hearing, as opponents of DeVos signed petitions, known as their senators, and urged individuals of the HELP committee to dump her, Defending the Early Years, a nonprofit employer based totally in Boston, released  “Teachers Speak Out.” The file highlights the worries of early childhood instructors about the have an impact on of college reforms on low-income children.  Authors Diane E. Levin and Judith L. Van Hoorn culled their statistics from interviews with 34 educators in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington, DC.

The link between socioeconomic status and academic achievement has been firmly established in research.  According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 47 percent of children under six years old lived in low-income families near or beneath the poverty line in 2014. The degree rises to almost 70 percentage for Black and Native-American kids and sixty four percentage for Hispanic youngsters.  In a latest survey carried out by using the Council of Chief State School Officers—which helped design  the Common Core standards—teachers throughout the United States listed household stress, poverty, and mastering and psychological issues as the pinnacle limitations to scholar success.

Yet the mandates of the Common Core are exacerbating the problem.  As Levin and Van Hoorn point out in the report’s introduction, “recent reforms…have been developed and implemented by people with good intentions but often little formal knowledge of early child development.”   Those with the expertise now face a  “profound ethical dilemma.”  As top-down mandates dictate the teaching and assessment of narrow academic skills at younger and younger ages, early childhood educators are forced to do the “least harm,” rather than the “most good.”

In an alternate at the hearing, between DeVos and Todd Young, a Republican senator from Indiana, she crowed about our “great opportunity…to  really empower [teachers] in a new way to do what they do best.”   She horrifies educators.  They’ve been leaving the field, exhausted and dispirited, in file numbers.  Respect for the occupation and morale are at an all-time low, as instructors have picked up the slack for a society that starves its faculties and communities, and blames them for all its ills.  But out of this malaise, a new activism has emerged, with tremendous electricity committed to defeating her.

Early childhood teachers—with some notable exceptions—have been missing from the action. The reasons are complex.  This is a workforce that has long been marginalized, their work devalued, and expertise ignored.  “It’s just babysitting,” New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, said some years ago, of his state’s prekindergarten program—a perception shared by many, and internalized by those in the field.  Salaries for educators working in community-based programs are significantly less than those of their colleagues in the public schools.  Many are living in poverty, and afflicted by the toxic stress common among their students. The newest practitioners are worried about putting their careers at risk.  Few have been willing to go on the record with their critique.

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​As I examine via the report, I saved underlining the charges from the teachers, as if to expand them, to elevate them off the page.  They’re struggling to honor early childhood’s strong proof base, however they’re undermined with the aid of a lack of enterprise and autonomy:

The have confidence in my understanding and judgment as a instructor is gone.  So are the play and studying centers in my classroom.  Everything is supposed to be structured for a precise lesson and rigidly timed to in shape into a specific, tight, preapproved schedule.

The poor have an impact on of reforms on children’s improvement and studying can’t be overstated. Practice has turn out to be greater rote, and standardized, with much less time for deep relationships—among children, and between them and caring adults.  We’re stealing the coronary heart of super early education, as the character strengths, interests, and desires of adolescents get lost:

With this severe emphasis on what’s referred to as ‘rigorous academics,’ drills are emphasized.  It’s a whole lot tougher for my teenagers to come to be self-regulated learners.  Children have no time to research to self-regulate via deciding on their very own activities, collaborating in ongoing initiatives with their classmates, or enjoying creatively.  They have to take a seat longer, but their interest spans are shorter.

The authors bring us into the classrooms studied by Daphna Bassok, Scott Lathem, and Anna Rorem, of the University of Virginia, who used two large, nationally representative data sets to compare public school kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2010. More formal, directed coaching in reading, writing, and math, as soon as the province of first grade, has trickled down into kindergarten.  Close analyzing is turning into section of the anticipated talent set of 5-year-olds, and the stress has extended, in some cases, to prekindergarten, the place teens are being requested to grasp studying by means of the stop of the year. The repercussions are severe:

It’s indispensable for each and every kindergarten infant to sense welcomed and included, to be section of the class. Instead, we’re keeping apart the cream from the milk.  From the beginning, we’re telling children who are poor, ‘You’re deficient,’ as a substitute of assisting them turn out to be equipped and sense profitable and phase of their class.  Then it’s ‘remedial this, remedial that.’  It’s discrimination.

The document concludes with a sequence of recommendations—from the actual professionals in the room.  The first calls for the withdrawal of modern early childhood requirements and mandates. Another urges the use of genuine assessment, primarily based on observations of children, their development, and learning.  Number ten addresses infant poverty, our country wide stain:

Work at all levels of society to reduce, and ultimately end child poverty.  To do this, we must first acknowledge that a narrow focus on improving schools will not solve the complex problems associated with child poverty.

Breaking the silence was once by no means so sweet.  Now it’s time, as John Lewis says, to get in proper trouble.

DEFENDING THE EARLY YEARS RELEASES ITS LATEST REPORT: “TEACHERS SPEAK OUT: HOW SCHOOL REFORMS ARE FAILING LOW-INCOME YOUNG CHILDREN”

1/9/2017

Defending the Early Years is proud to announce the release of its newest report, “Teachers Speak Out: How School Reforms Are Failing Low-Income Young Children.”  

In the wake of federal and state education mandates, this report documents interviews with early childhood teachers across the country about how school reforms negatively affect low-income young children.
 
Authored by Diane E. Levin, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Wheelock College, and Judith L. Van Hoorn, Professor Emerita, University of the Pacific and published by Defending the Early Years, the report finds that the mandates disregard teachers’ knowledge of child development, culturally appropriate practice, and how to meet the diverse educational needs of poor children.
 
Find the full 16-page report here.

Find the two-page summary report here.

Find the press release here.

NETWORK FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION MOUNTING A CAMPAIGN TO DEFEAT BETSY DEVOS AS SECRETARY OF EDUCATION

1/6/2017

Senate hearings on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education start on January 11, 2017. Many educators have grave issues about Mrs. DeVos.  See “ A Sobering Look at What Betsy DeVos Did to Education in Michigan – and What She Might Do as Secretary of Education ” from The Answer Sheet in The Washington Post and “Betsy DeVos and God’s Plan for Schools” in the Dec. 13, 2016 New York Times.

Network for Public Education is mounting a campaign and encouraging educators and other concerned citizens to contact their Senator.  Find a sample letter and the addresses of all Senators at https://actionnetwork.org/letters/tell-your-senator-to-vote-no-for-betsy-devos?source=facebook& amp;. Or write your own letter, in your own words.

Another choice is to call 202-225-3121 and be linked with any congressional member, each Senators and Members of the House of Representatives. Tell the staffer who solutions that you are adversarial to Mrs. DeVos’ affirmation as Secretary of Education.  They will ask for your title and zip code and tally your name as a “yay” or “nay.” 

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