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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.thedeyproject.com) we work to promote terrific academic exercise in early childhood. Dana Goldstein’s May thirtieth article, “ Free Play or Flashcards? New Study Nods to More Rigorous Preschools” (NY Times, 5/30/17) no longer solely left us puzzled however raised numerous 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 applications are all-too-often misunderstood.  Just having performed in a preschool is no longer enough, as  all play is not the same.  When a baby dabbles from one exercise to another, tries out one fabric and then the next, and/or does the equal endeavor day-after-day, this is no longer best play or, necessarily, even play.  And, even when a baby does end up greater completely engaged in an undertaking that develops over time and is significant play, instructors have a integral position in facilitating the play to assist the baby take it further.  The trainer additionally makes choices about how to combine extra formal early literacy and math capabilities into the play—for instance, by using supporting a toddler dictate tales about his portray and pointing out some of the key phrases and letters involved, etc.   The trainer can then assist the toddler “read” the story at a type meeting.  With block building, the trainer and infant would possibly talk about shapes, as she tries to discover the proper form for her structure.

This kind of intentional teacher-facilitated learning through play contributes to the many foundational skills children need for later school success, including self-regulation, social skills, creativity, original thinking, oral language development, eye-hand coordination, pre-literacy and math skills, and positive attitudes toward problem-solving.  And, in the long run, these foundational skills are much more important for how children will feel about and perform later in school than the 2½ months gain they might obtain from the early skill instruction received in preschool, as reported 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 tutorial abilities are so vital to emphasize in preschool as an alternative 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 studying so frequently dealt with 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 training is now borrowing thoughts 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 40 states either have or are in the process of developing Kindergarten Readiness Assessments (KRA), a tool to measure children’s readiness for kindergarten. While KRAs have several benefits for teaching and learning, the results can also be used inappropriately, according to a recent 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 assertion 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 greater facts about advocacy for splendid public education, go to DEY’s internet site at  www.thedeyproject.com.

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 teacher carried the torch for democracy at the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, Donal Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education.  “The Senate should to be a rubber stamp, Patty Murray said.  We owe it t the American people to put families and children first, not billionaires.”

Those had been war 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 consequences of our current election attest, women’s ascent to energy is convoluted.  The pacts we make can be Faustian: these days, a former Microsoft govt runs Washington’s branch of early learning.

In the week before the hearing, as opponents of DeVos signed petitions, called their senators, and entreated members of the HELP committee to dump her, Defending the Early Years, a nonprofit organization based in Boston, released “Teachers Speak Out.” The record highlights the issues of early childhood instructors about the influence of faculty 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 hooked up in research.  According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, forty seven percentage of kids underneath six years historical lived in  low-income families near or under the poverty line in 2014. The stage rises to almost 70 percentage for Black and Native-American teenagers and sixty four percentage for Hispanic youngsters.  In a current survey performed 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 getting to know and psychological issues as the pinnacle boundaries to pupil 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 know-how now face a  “profound moral dilemma.”  As top-down mandates dictate the instructing and evaluation of slender tutorial abilities at youthful and youthful ages, early childhood educators are pressured to do the “least harm,” as a substitute than the “most good.”

In an exchange 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 document 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 colleges and communities, and blames them for all its ills.  But out of this malaise, a new activism has emerged, with tremendous electricity devoted to defeating her.

Early childhood teachers—with some excellent exceptions—have been lacking from the action. The motives are complex.  This is a group of workers that has lengthy been marginalized, their work devalued, and understanding ignored.  “It’s simply babysitting,” New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, stated some years ago, of his state’s prekindergarten program—a understanding shared with the aid of many, and internalized through these in the field.  Salaries for educators working in community-based packages are extensively much less than these of their colleagues in the public schools.  Many are residing in poverty, and bothered by way of the poisonous stress frequent amongst their students. The most up-to-date practitioners are involved about placing their careers at risk.  Few have been inclined to go on the report with their critique.

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​As I examine via the report, I stored underlining the charges from the teachers, as if to make bigger them, to carry them off the page.  They’re struggling to honor early childhood’s sturdy proof base, however they’re undermined by using a lack of company and autonomy:

The have confidence in my knowledge and judgment as a instructor is gone.  So are the play and mastering facilities in my classroom.  Everything is supposed to be structured for a unique lesson and rigidly timed to healthy into a specific, tight, preapproved schedule.

The negative impact of reforms on children’s development and learning can’t be overstated. Practice has become more rote, and standardized, with less time for deep relationships—among children, and between them and caring adults.  We’re stealing the heart of high-quality early education, as the individual strengths, interests, and needs of children get lost:

With this intense emphasis on what’s referred to as ‘rigorous academics,’ drills are emphasized.  It’s a great deal more difficult for my adolescents to turn out to be self-regulated learners.  Children have no time to analyze to self-regulate through selecting their very own activities, collaborating in ongoing initiatives with their classmates, or enjoying creatively.  They have to sit down longer, however their interest spans are shorter.

The authors deliver us into the lecture rooms studied by means of Daphna Bassok, Scott Lathem, and Anna Rorem, of the University of Virginia, who used two large, nationally consultant information units to evaluate public school  kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2010. More formal, directed training in reading, writing, and math, as soon as the province of first grade, has trickled down into kindergarten.  Close studying is turning into phase of the anticipated ability set of 5-year-olds, and the stress has extended, in some cases, to prekindergarten, the place adolescents are being requested to grasp analyzing via the stop of the year. The repercussions are severe:

It’s crucial for each and every kindergarten toddler 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 youngsters who are poor, ‘You’re deficient,’ as an alternative of supporting them come to be able and sense profitable and phase of their class.  Then it’s ‘remedial this, remedial that.’  It’s discrimination.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations—from the real experts in the room.  The first calls for the withdrawal of current early childhood standards and mandates. Another urges the use of authentic assessment, based on observations of children, their development, and learning.  Number ten addresses child poverty, our national stain:

Work at all ranges of society to reduce, and eventually give up toddler poverty.  To do this, we should first renowned that a slim center of attention on enhancing faculties will now not clear up the complicated issues related with toddler poverty.

Breaking the silence used to be in no way so sweet.  Now it’s time, as John Lewis says, to get in desirable 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 affirmation 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 marketing campaign and encouraging educators and different worried residents to contact their Senator.  Find a pattern letter and the addresses of all Senators at  https://actionnetwork.org/letters/tell-your-senator-to-vote-no-for-betsy-devos?source=facebook&. Or write your own letter, in your own words.

Another option is to call 202-225-3121 and be connected with any congressional member, both Senators and Members of the House of Representatives. Tell the staffer who answers that you are opposed to Mrs. DeVos’ confirmation as Secretary of Education.  They will ask for your name and zip code and tally your call as a “yay” or “nay.” 

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