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Even before they are born children face systemic inequalities.

A new report digs into this national problem.

“More than half of the 74 million children in the United States are children of color, and they are served by learning systems that are gravely inequitable. The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the health, economic wellbeing, and education of young children, only exacerbate existing inequalities,” according to the report, “Start with Equity: From the Early Years to the Early Grades.”

Released by The Children’s Equity Project, at Arizona State University, and the Bipartisan Policy Center, the report is, according to its website, “an actionable policy roadmap for states and the federal government—as well as for candidates at all levels of government vying for office—to take meaningful steps to remedy these inequities in early learning and education systems.”

These themes are also explored in a related webinar series. Links to recordings of the first two webinars, which took place earlier this month, are available on the report website. The next two webinars will be on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, and Thursday, August 6, 2020.

The report and webinars draw on two meetings of “more than 70 experts from universities, think tanks and organizations.” These experts focused on three policy areas where inequities persist: (more…)

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“ ‘I noticed the kids who did not understand English were just sitting off to the side, but the moment the assistant would come and speak their language, they blossomed, their eyes opened up,’ Ponce said.

“Ponce, now a coach for other Head Start teachers, is one of hundreds of preschool teachers and supervisors across California who are getting training this year on how to support children whose families speak a language other than English at home. These students account for 60 percent of children under 5 years old in the state and are often referred to as ‘dual-language learners’ because they are learning two languages as they grow — their home language and English.”

“ ‘These are very exciting times,’ said Patricia Lozano, executive director of Early Edge California, a nonprofit organization that advocates for young children and is helping the California Department of Education implement the grant. ‘We’ve come so far in recognizing the benefits of speaking more than one language. All kids benefit from learning two languages. Hopefully California will be a leader in implementing this everywhere.’ ”

 

“New training for California preschool teachers to help bilingual children prepare for kindergarten,” by Zaidee Stavely, EdSource, March 19, 2019

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh meets with a young learner. Source: City of Boston Mayor’s Office’s Flickr page.

 

Boston has a long history of preschool progress. Starting under the administration of former Mayor Thomas Menino and continuing with Mayor Marty Walsh’s team, city officials have invested in quality, access, and innovation. Now, this work is featured in a new report — “A Focus on Teaching and Learning in Pre-K through 2nd Grade: Lessons from Boston” — from the think tank New America.

New America praises Boston for having a clear and lasting vision for expanding preschool, rather than “a series of priorities that shift every few years based on changes in district leadership.”

Thanks to a dynamic, public-private partnership, funding for this work came from the city and from funders like the Barr Foundation. (more…)

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This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Lesley Byrne, and I work as a pre-K teacher in the Lowell Public Schools. I had worked in early childhood education for seven years when, in 1993, the Lowell initiated the first pre-K programs in its schools. I knew this was where I wanted to be, as I have always believed that providing a positive, first-school experience for families can lead to future school success. I was excited to work toward offering these experiences for children and families. 

For a few years, I was involved in The Family Literacy Program, a collaboration between the Lowell Adult Education program and the Early Childhood Education program. Imagine you’re a parent who is new to this country. You don’t understand English or American culture. Now imagine sending your child to a “foreign” school! The Family Literacy Program aimed to support these families. The program offered classes in English as a Second Language to parents of pre-K children. As one of the pre-K teachers at this time, I got to use my skills not only to educate and support the children in my class, but also to work with parents on how to support their child’s learning at home. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my teaching career.  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Children who are Dual Language Learners (DLLs) are a global group. They come from places like China, Pakistan, Brazil, Bhutan, Nepal, and Mexico. They bring dozens of languages into classrooms — and they create an opportunity for early educators to grow to meet these children’s needs.

Despite this “superdiversity,” “little research to date has focused on effective approaches for multilingual and multicultural early childhood programs and classrooms,” a report — “Growing Superdiversity among Young U.S. Dual Language Learners and Its Implications” — from the Migration Policy Institute explains.

And while there are programs to support Spanish-speaking DLLs, the report adds, “similar provisions for speakers of other, less commonly spoken minority languages are rare, making such services even less accessible for a substantial portion of DLLs and their families.”

“At a time when DLL children are speaking a far more diverse range of languages, many communities across the United States are experiencing classroom superdiversity with little to no guidance on effective practices for promoting their cognitive and socioemotional development.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Springfield is having a $12 million, early education dream come true, MassLive.com reports.

The city is opening a new Educare early childhood center in its Old Hill neighborhood.

Educare is a high-quality, research-based early education model that works with young children and their families for multiple years. “The Educare program includes longer days for the children and is year-round,” MassLive says.

“The new center will serve 141 children who will be selected from the Head Start program based on factors including income and need. The early childhood program is for children ages just past birth to 5 years old.”

This work isn’t new for Springfield. From parents to early educators to schools superintendent Dan Warwick, the city has made a powerful commitment to educating its youngest children. (more…)

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Screenshot: The Casey Foundation website

 

For some children, opportunity is part of life in America. But for millions of immigrant children and children of color, life in America is full of obstacles and threats.

That’s the finding of a new report — “2017 Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children.” Released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the report “explores the intersection of children, opportunity, race and immigration.”

The report notes that many immigrant children live in low-income and poor families whose median income “is 20 percent less than U.S.-born families.” Specifically:

• more than half of children in immigrant families are low income

• one in four children (4.5 million) are poor, and

• children of immigrants account for 30 percent of all low-income children in the United States, even though they only make up 24 percent of the country’s 74 million children

For children of color, a daunting challenge is living with dizzying layers of disadvantages in “communities where unemployment and crime are higher; schools are poorer; access to capital, fresh produce, transit and health care is more limited; exposure to environmental toxins is greater; and family supports and services are fewer.”  (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

A new report –“Quality for Whom?”– from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) points to two converging trends:

1) the number of immigrant children in the United States is growing in many states as is the number of children whose parents do not speak English, and

2) States have been working hard to increase the quality of early programs using Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS)

That’s why, the report notes, QRIS efforts should embrace the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse families (CLDs) and of diverse early childhood staff.

“It is critical for stakeholders to address equity issues in early childhood for several reasons,” one of the report’s authors, Julie Sugarman, told us. “First, because children from an immigrant background make up a quarter of all children ages 0 to 5 and immigrants make up 18 percent of the early childhood workforce — a significant share of the field.  (more…)

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What do we know about preschool?

To find answers, researchers in different disciplines from a number of universities and from the think tank Brookings set up a task force to review the evidence “on the impact of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs.”

The result is a new report, “The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects,” released by Brookings and Duke University. Videos of related panel discussions are available here.

This effort produced “one, clear, strong message,” NPR reports. “Kids who attend public preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than kids who don’t.”

“This timely report can guide states and local communities, including several here in Massachusetts, as they continue to expand access to high-quality preschool,” Titus DosRemedios, director of research and policy at Strategies for Children, says.

Included in the report is a six-part consensus statement that says: (more…)

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“ ‘How would another teacher handle this situation?’ is one of the hardest questions to answer. It’s also one of the most frequently asked. For teachers working with DLLs [dual language learners], answers to this question are especially rare. There is a national shortage of bilingual teachers, ESL support staff, and other linguistic resources. And since there are not enough teachers and not enough hours dedicated to the 4.5 millions DLLs in the country, observations of other teachers and learning from them often take a backseat.

“Recent videos produced by Teaching At The Beginning, a nonprofit organization that supports educators of young DLLs, are attempting to overcome these limits.”

“Approximately 100 children are featured in the videos. All the children, between 3–5 years old, are shown interacting with one of the three teachers or with one another. Some of the highlights from the videos include Chinese students teaching a monolingual teacher words from their native language, Spanish-speaking students reading and singing “Five Little Monkeys” while using a toy phone, and parents writing letters — in their home languages — to children who later opens them during class time.”

 

From “The Young Dual Language Learner Video Series: A Peek into High-Quality Early Childhood Education for DLLs,” New America’s EdCentral Blog, July 28, 2016

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