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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 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) not only left us puzzled but raised several important questions.

Should a find out about that located a 2½-month obtain in tutorial abilities when taught in preschool have an effect on early childhood coverage and practice? How can one argue for giving up huge chunks of playtime for educational educating to make such minimal positive factors in tutorial performance—with little consideration of what different areas may have misplaced out due to the fact of the center of attention on tutorial skills?  Studies of Head Start applications that taught tutorial abilities to preschoolers in the 1960’s and 1970’s discovered that features made in tutorial overall performance over teens in greater play-based Head Start packages have been commonly long past through 2nd grade (i.e., “fade-out effect,” as referred to in the article).  Furthermore, lookup in many European countries, which do no longer begin formal studying practise till age seven, suggests that beginning formal instructing of analyzing previously has little benefit.

Play-based early childhood applications are all-too-often misunderstood.  Just having performed in a preschool is now not enough, as  all play is not the same.  When a infant dabbles from one recreation to another, tries out one cloth and then the next, and/or does the identical exercise day-after-day, this is no longer great play or, necessarily, even play.  And, even when a baby does end up greater entirely engaged in an exercise that develops over time and is significant play, instructors have a critical position in facilitating the play to assist the toddler take it further.  The instructor additionally makes choices about how to combine greater formal early literacy and math competencies into the play—for instance, with the aid 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 infant “read” the story at a classification meeting.  With block building, the instructor and baby would possibly talk about shapes, as she tries to locate the proper form for her structure.

This sort of intentional teacher-facilitated gaining knowledge of via play contributes to the many foundational competencies young people want for later college success, consisting of self-regulation, social skills, creativity, authentic thinking, oral language development, eye-hand coordination, pre-literacy and math skills, and nice attitudes towards problem-solving.  And, in the lengthy run, these foundational abilities are a great deal extra essential for how youth will sense about and function later in college than the 2½ months reap they would possibly attain from the early talent training obtained in preschool, as said 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 as an alternative than a focal point on the improvement of the “whole child” and foundational abilities that put together adolescents for faculty success in the later years?
  3. Why are play and mastering so frequently handled 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 complete toolkit will reply questions about constitution faculties and college privatization.

HIGH SCHOOL SHOULD BE MORE LIKE PRESCHOOL

4/8/2017

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Secondary schooling 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 device to measure children’s readiness for kindergarten. While KRAs have a number of advantages for educating and learning, the consequences 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” 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 declaration 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 fabulous 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 were fighting words from the mild-mannered senator from Washington State, and senior Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee.  Especially with Microsoft and Amazon among her top campaign contributors from 2011 to 2016.   But as the results of our recent election attest, women’s ascent to power is convoluted.  The pacts we make can be Faustian: these days, a former Microsoft executive runs Washington’s department of early learning.

In the week earlier than the hearing, as opponents of DeVos signed petitions, known as their senators, and advised contributors of the HELP committee to dump her, Defending the Early Years, a nonprofit enterprise based totally in Boston, released  “Teachers Speak Out.” The report highlights the concerns of early childhood teachers about the impact of school reforms on low-income children.  Authors Diane E. Levin and Judith L. Van Hoorn culled their data 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 young people 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 gaining knowledge of and psychological troubles as the pinnacle limitations to pupil 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 through human beings with accurate intentions however frequently little formal  knowledge of early child development.”   Those with the know-how now face a  “profound moral dilemma.”  As top-down mandates dictate the educating and evaluation of slim tutorial competencies at youthful and youthful ages, early childhood educators are pressured to do the “least harm,” as a substitute than the “most good.”

In an trade 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 record numbers.  Respect for the profession and morale are at an all-time low, as teachers have picked up the slack for a society that starves its schools and communities, and blames them for all its ills.  But out of this malaise, a new activism has emerged, with great energy dedicated to defeating her.

Early childhood teachers—with some exquisite exceptions—have been lacking from the action. The motives are complex.  This is a staff that has lengthy been marginalized, their work devalued, and know-how ignored.  “It’s simply babysitting,” New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, stated some years ago, of his state’s prekindergarten program—a appreciation shared by using many, and internalized with the aid of these in the field.  Salaries for educators working in community-based applications are appreciably much less than these of their colleagues in the public schools.  Many are residing in poverty, and bothered by means of the poisonous stress frequent amongst their students. The most recent practitioners are concerned about placing their careers at risk.  Few have been inclined to go on the document with their critique.

​As I examine via the report, I stored underlining the fees from the teachers, as if to extend them, to raise them off the page.  They’re struggling to honor early childhood’s sturdy proof base, however they’re undermined with the aid of a lack of organization and autonomy:

The have confidence in my understanding 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 match into a specific, tight, preapproved schedule.

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The poor affect of reforms on children’s improvement and gaining knowledge of can’t be overstated. Practice has grow to be extra 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 incredible early education, as the person strengths, interests, and wishes of teens get lost:

With this excessive emphasis on what’s known as ‘rigorous academics,’ drills are emphasized.  It’s lots more difficult for my teenagers to come to be self-regulated learners.  Children have no time to examine to self-regulate with the aid of selecting their personal activities, taking part in ongoing tasks with their classmates, or taking part in creatively.  They have to take a seat longer, however their interest spans are shorter.

The authors carry us into the lecture rooms studied via 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 preparation 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 predicted ability set of 5-year-olds, and the strain has extended, in some cases, to prekindergarten, the place youth are being requested to master analyzing by means of the stop of the year. The repercussions are severe:

It’s crucial for each kindergarten toddler to experience welcomed and included, to be section of the class. Instead, we’re isolating the cream from the milk.  From the beginning, we’re telling youngsters who are poor, ‘You’re deficient,’ as an alternative of assisting them emerge as ready and experience 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 contemporary early childhood requirements and mandates. Another urges the use of true assessment, based totally on observations of children, their development, and learning.  Number ten addresses baby poverty, our countrywide 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 never so sweet.  Now it’s time, as John Lewis says, to get in good 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& 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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