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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 suitable 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 various essential questions.

Should a learn about that observed a 2½-month obtain in tutorial competencies when taught in preschool affect early childhood coverage and practice? How can one argue for giving up massive chunks of playtime for educational educating to make such minimal positive factors in tutorial performance—with little consideration of what different areas would possibly have misplaced out due to the fact of the center of attention on educational skills?  Studies of Head Start applications that taught tutorial abilities to preschoolers in the 1960’s and 1970’s located that positive aspects made in tutorial overall performance over teenagers in greater play-based Head Start applications had been typically long gone through 2nd grade (i.e., “fade-out effect,” as noted in the article).  Furthermore, lookup in many European countries, which do now not begin formal studying guidance till age seven, indicates that beginning formal educating 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 fabric and then the next, and/or does the equal exercise day-after-day, this is no longer first-rate play or, necessarily, even play.  And, even when a baby does grow to be extra entirely engaged in an pastime that develops over time and is significant play, instructors have a indispensable position 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 competencies into the play—for instance, by means of assisting 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 category 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 variety of intentional teacher-facilitated gaining knowledge of thru play contributes to the many foundational abilities teens want for later college success, inclusive of self-regulation, social skills, creativity, authentic thinking, oral language development, eye-hand coordination, pre-literacy and math skills, and tremendous attitudes towards problem-solving.  And, in the lengthy run, these foundational competencies are a great deal greater essential for how youngsters will sense about and function later in college than the 2½ months attain they may attain from the early talent practise acquired in preschool, as stated in the  New York Times article.

Rather than debating over free play versus flashcards, possibly we must be asking the larger questions:

  1. Why are years of lookup on the advantages of fantastic play in preschool packages so frequently ignored?
  2. Why is it assumed that tutorial competencies are so essential to emphasize in preschool instead than a focal point on the improvement of the “whole child” and foundational abilities that put together young people for college 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 complete toolkit will reply questions about constitution faculties 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 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 quite a few 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 means 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 declaration 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, desires to privatize public education.  DeVos has a verified records of aiding efforts that discriminate towards low-income communities and communities of color.  At DEY, we aid the equal possibility of each younger toddler for an first-rate education.  We are in particular worried that DeVos will undermine the countrywide and nation efforts to promote well-known preschool public education. 
 
For extra 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 instructor carried the torch for democracy at the affirmation listening to for Betsy DeVos, Donal Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education.  “The Senate have to to be a rubber stamp, Patty Murray said.  We owe it t the American humans to put households and kids first, no longer billionaires.”

Those have been struggle 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 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 earlier than the hearing, as opponents of DeVos signed petitions, known as their senators, and advised individuals of the HELP committee to dump her, Defending the Early Years, a nonprofit organisation primarily based in Boston, released  “Teachers Speak Out.” The file highlights the worries of early childhood instructors about the have an impact on of college reforms on low-income children.  Authors Diane E. Levin and Judith L. Van Hoorn culled their information 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 stage rises to almost 70 percentage for Black and Native-American youngsters and sixty four percentage for Hispanic youngsters.  In a latest survey performed via the Council of Chief State School Officers—which helped design  the Common Core standards—teachers throughout the United States listed household stress, poverty, and mastering and psychological troubles as the pinnacle obstacles 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 via human beings with exact 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 instructing and evaluation of slender educational 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 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 career 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 wonderful power 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.

​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 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 terrible affect of reforms on children’s improvement and studying can’t be overstated. Practice has end up 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 gorgeous early education, as the man or woman strengths, interests, and wants of teens get lost:

With this intense emphasis on what’s known as ‘rigorous academics,’ drills are emphasized.  It’s a good deal tougher for my young people to come to be self-regulated learners.  Children have no time to study to self-regulate by way of selecting their personal activities, collaborating in ongoing tasks with their classmates, or taking part in 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 imperative for each and every kindergarten baby 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 assisting them grow to be in a position and experience 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 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 top 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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