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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.deyproject.org) 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 a number of 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 now not enough, as  all play is not the same.  When a infant dabbles from one undertaking to another, tries out one fabric and then the next, and/or does the identical endeavor day-after-day, this is no longer great play or, necessarily, even play.  And, even when a infant does grow to be greater utterly engaged in an pastime that develops over time and is significant play, instructors have a necessary function in facilitating the play to assist the toddler take it further.  The instructor additionally makes selections about how to combine greater formal early literacy and math capabilities into the play—for instance, by way 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 toddler “read” the story at a classification meeting.  With block building, the instructor and baby would possibly talk about shapes, as she tries to discover the proper structure for her structure.

This form of intentional teacher-facilitated studying thru play contributes to the many foundational capabilities teens want for later faculty success, which includes 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 good deal extra essential for how youth will sense about and operate later in faculty than the 2½ months achieve they may reap from the early talent practise acquired in preschool, as suggested 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 vital to emphasize in preschool as an alternative than a focal point on the improvement of the “whole child” and foundational abilities that put together teens 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 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 system of creating Kindergarten Readiness Assessments (KRA), a device to measure children’s readiness for kindergarten. While KRAs have a number of advantages for instructing and learning, the effects 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” through David Denby used to be 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 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 more information about advocacy for appropriate public education, visit DEY’s website 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 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 conflict 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 strength 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 earlier than the hearing, as opponents of DeVos signed petitions, referred to as their senators, and urged individuals of the HELP committee to dump her, Defending the Early Years, a nonprofit organisation primarily based 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 set up in research.  According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, forty seven percentage of youngsters 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 adolescents and sixty four percentage for Hispanic youngsters.  In a current 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 studying 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 factor out in the report’s introduction, “recent reforms…have been developed and applied via humans with proper intentions however regularly 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 change 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 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.

​As I study via the report, I saved underlining the prices from the teachers, as if to extend them, to elevate them off the page.  They’re struggling to honor early childhood’s sturdy proof base, however they’re undermined through a lack of company and autonomy:

The trust in my expertise and judgment as a teacher is gone.  So are the play and learning centers in my classroom.  Everything is supposed to be structured for a specific lesson and rigidly timed to fit into a specific, tight, preapproved schedule.

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The bad influence of reforms on children’s improvement and mastering can’t be overstated. Practice has turn out 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 splendid early education, as the person strengths, interests, and wishes of youth get lost:

With this intense emphasis on what’s referred to as ‘rigorous academics,’ drills are emphasized.  It’s tons more difficult for my adolescents to come to be self-regulated learners.  Children have no time to analyze to self-regulate with the aid of selecting their very own activities, collaborating in ongoing initiatives with their classmates, or taking part in 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 information units to evaluate 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 studying is turning into phase of the predicted ability set of 5-year-olds, and the strain has extended, in some cases, to prekindergarten, the place youngsters are being requested to grasp analyzing with the aid of the cease of the year. The repercussions are severe:

It’s fundamental for each 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 supporting them emerge as in a position and experience profitable and section of their class.  Then it’s ‘remedial this, remedial that.’  It’s discrimination.

The document concludes with a sequence of recommendations—from the actual specialists in the room.  The first calls for the withdrawal of cutting-edge early childhood requirements and mandates. Another urges the use of actual assessment, based totally on observations of children, their development, and learning.  Number ten addresses infant poverty, our countrywide stain:

Work at all ranges of society to reduce, and subsequently quit baby poverty.  To do this, we ought to first renowned that a slim center of attention on enhancing faculties will no longer resolve the complicated troubles related with toddler poverty.

Breaking the silence used to be by no means so sweet.  Now it’s time, as John Lewis says, to get in right 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 commence 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 marketing campaign and encouraging educators and different involved 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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