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WENDY LOCKER: NOTHING ABSTRACT ABOUT THE LESSONS OF PLAY

6/10/2017

Read Wendy Locker’s insightful article, as posted 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 excellent 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) now not solely left us puzzled however raised countless 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 programs are all-too-often misunderstood.  Just having played in a preschool is not enough, as all play is not the same.  When a baby dabbles from one exercise to another, tries out one cloth and then the next, and/or does the identical recreation day-after-day, this is now not first-rate play or, necessarily, even play.  And, even when a baby does emerge as extra totally engaged in an exercise that develops over time and is significant play, instructors have a fundamental function in facilitating the play to assist the toddler take it further.  The trainer additionally makes choices about how to combine extra formal early literacy and math competencies into the play—for instance, by means of supporting a baby dictate tales about his portray and pointing out some of the key phrases and letters involved, etc.   The instructor can then assist the baby “read” the story at a type meeting.  With block building, the trainer and infant may talk about shapes, as she tries to locate the proper structure for her structure.

This variety of intentional teacher-facilitated studying thru play contributes to the many foundational competencies youngsters want for later faculty success, together with self-regulation, social skills, creativity, authentic thinking, oral language development, eye-hand coordination, pre-literacy and math skills, and high-quality attitudes towards problem-solving.  And, in the lengthy run, these foundational abilities are plenty extra vital for how youth will experience about and operate later in faculty than the 2½ months reap they would possibly achieve from the early talent guidance acquired in preschool, as stated 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 lookup on the advantages of nice play in preschool packages so frequently ignored?
  2. Why is it assumed that educational capabilities are so necessary to emphasize in preschool instead than a center of attention on the improvement of the “whole child” and foundational competencies that put together teenagers for faculty success in the later years?
  3. Why are play and getting to know so regularly 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 forty states both have or are in the method of creating Kindergarten Readiness Assessments (KRA), a tool to measure children’s readiness for kindergarten. While KRAs have various advantages for educating and learning, the outcomes can additionally be used inappropriately, in accordance to a current 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” with the aid of David Denby was once posted in the Feb. 11, 2017 trouble of The New Yorker.

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

1/27/2017

DEY is issuing a statement in opposition to the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. 
 
DeVos confirmed in her listening to testimony on January seventeenth that she is profoundly unqualified to serve as Secretary of Education. She used to be unable to reply primary questions or tackle controversial issues. But, most importantly, she is towards public training and, instead, wishes to privatize public education.  DeVos has a established records of assisting efforts that discriminate in opposition to low-income communities and communities of color.  At DEY, we help the equal probability of each younger infant for an exquisite education.  We are in particular worried that DeVos will undermine the country wide and nation efforts to promote conventional preschool public education. 
 
For more information about advocacy for appropriate public education, visit DEY’s website 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 have been battle 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 latest election attest, women’s ascent to electricity 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 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 document highlights the issues of early childhood instructors about the affect 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 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 stage rises to almost 70 percentage for Black and Native-American adolescents and sixty four percentage for Hispanic youngsters.  In a latest 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 studying and psychological troubles as the pinnacle boundaries to scholar success.

Yet the mandates of the Common Core are exacerbating the problem.  As Levin and Van Hoorn factor out in the report’s introduction, “recent reforms…have been developed and carried out by using human beings with correct intentions however regularly 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 slim educational competencies at youthful and youthful ages, early childhood educators are pressured to do the “least harm,” as an alternative 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 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 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 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 sturdy proof base, however they’re undermined by using a lack of business enterprise and autonomy:

The have faith in my know-how and judgment as a instructor is gone.  So are the play and studying facilities in my classroom.  Everything is supposed to be structured for a unique lesson and rigidly timed to in shape 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 known as ‘rigorous academics,’ drills are emphasized.  It’s a great deal tougher for my kids to turn out to be self-regulated learners.  Children have no time to examine to self-regulate by way of deciding on their very own activities, taking part in ongoing initiatives with their classmates, or enjoying creatively.  They have to take a seat longer, however their interest spans are shorter.

The authors convey us into the school rooms studied by using Daphna Bassok, Scott Lathem, and Anna Rorem, of the University of Virginia, who used two large, nationally consultant facts units to examine 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 phase of the anticipated ability set of 5-year-olds, and the strain has extended, in some cases, to prekindergarten, the place kids are being requested to grasp studying by way of the give up of the year. The repercussions are severe:

It’s essential for every kindergarten child to feel welcomed and included, to be part of the class. Instead, we’re separating the cream from the milk.  From the beginning, we’re telling kids who are poor, ‘You’re deficient,’ instead of helping them become competent and feel successful and part 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 cutting-edge early childhood requirements and mandates. Another urges the use of true 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 used to be by no means so sweet.  Now it’s time, as John Lewis says, to get in correct 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 worries 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 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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