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 fantastic instructional 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 child dabbles from one activity to another, tries out one material and then the next, and/or does the same activity day-after-day, this is not quality play or, necessarily, even play.  And, even when a child does become more fully engaged in an activity that develops over time and is meaningful play, teachers have a vital role in facilitating the play to help the child take it further.  The teacher also makes decisions about how to integrate more formal early literacy and math skills into the play—for instance, by helping a child dictate stories about his painting and pointing out some of the keywords and letters involved, etc.   The teacher can then help the child “read” the story at a class meeting.  With block building, the teacher and child might discuss shapes, as she tries to find the right shape for her structure.

This form of intentional teacher-facilitated gaining knowledge of thru play contributes to the many foundational capabilities kids want for later school success, which include 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 tons extra vital for how teens will experience about and function later in college than the 2½ months attain they would possibly achieve from the early ability preparation acquired in preschool, as pronounced in the  New York Times article.

Rather than debating over free play versus flashcards, possibly we have to be asking the better questions:

  1. Why are years of lookup on the advantages of great play in preschool packages so frequently ignored?
  2. Why is it assumed that academic skills are so important to emphasize in preschool rather than a focus on the development of the “whole child” and foundational skills that prepare children for school success in the later years?
  3. Why are play and gaining knowledge of so regularly 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 colleges and faculty 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 way of David Denby used to be posted in the Feb. 11, 2017 problem 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 was once unable to reply simple questions or tackle controversial issues. But, most importantly, she is in opposition to public training and, instead, needs 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 aid the equal probability of each and every younger infant for an notable education.  We are in particular worried that DeVos will undermine the countrywide and country efforts to promote customary preschool public education. 
 
For greater statistics about advocacy for gorgeous 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 have 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 effects 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 earlier than the hearing, as opponents of DeVos signed petitions, referred to as their senators, and advised participants of the HELP committee to dump her, Defending the Early Years, a nonprofit business enterprise primarily based in Boston, released  “Teachers Speak Out.” The record highlights the issues of early childhood instructors about the have an effect on of faculty reforms on low-income children.  Authors Diane E. Levin and Judith L. Van Hoorn culled their facts 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 under 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 current survey carried out through 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 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 applied through humans with desirable intentions however regularly little formal  knowledge of early child development.”   Those with the information now face a  “profound ethical dilemma.”  As top-down mandates dictate the educating and evaluation of slender tutorial competencies at youthful and younger ages, early childhood educators are compelled to do the “least harm,” as a substitute 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 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.

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​As I read through the report, I kept underlining the quotes from the teachers, as if to amplify them, to lift them off the page.  They’re struggling to honor early childhood’s robust evidence base, but they’re undermined by a lack of agency and autonomy:

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

The bad affect of reforms on children’s improvement and getting to know can’t be overstated. Practice has grow 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 man or woman strengths, interests, and wishes of teenagers get lost:

With this excessive emphasis on what’s referred to as ‘rigorous academics,’ drills are emphasized.  It’s lots more difficult for my young people to end up self-regulated learners.  Children have no time to research 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 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 instruction in reading, writing, and math, once the province of first grade, has trickled down into kindergarten.  Close reading is becoming part of the expected skill set of 5-year-olds, and the pressure has extended, in some cases, to prekindergarten, where children are being asked to master reading by the end of the year. The repercussions are severe:

It’s critical for each kindergarten infant to sense welcomed and included, to be phase of the class. Instead, we’re isolating the cream from the milk.  From the beginning, we’re telling children who are poor, ‘You’re deficient,’ rather of supporting them emerge as capable and experience profitable and phase of their class.  Then it’s ‘remedial this, remedial that.’  It’s discrimination.

The file concludes with a sequence of recommendations—from the actual professionals in the room.  The first calls for the withdrawal of modern-day 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 baby poverty, our country wide stain:

Work at all degrees of society to reduce, and sooner or later quit baby poverty.  To do this, we have to first well known that a slender center of attention on enhancing colleges will no longer remedy the complicated issues related with baby poverty.

Breaking the silence used to be by no means so sweet.  Now it’s time, as John Lewis says, to get in appropriate 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 commence 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 choice is to name 202-225-3121 and be related 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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