Note: The video above features the panel discussion titled, “Leveraging Public Dollars: How?” from the Before Birth & Up Through Third Grade Forum on March 2. Videos for the other two panel discussions can be found on the right side of this page.
If you had to pick the hardest nuts to crack in early education policy, what would they be?
That was the question that animated discussions near the end of the policy forum held on March 2, 2011. (It is also what animates the open online forum that emerged from the event. More details below.) Everyone who attended -- which included about 70 people from school districts, national advocacy groups, philanthropic foundations and research centers -- was assigned to one of six roundtables. Each table had the same assignment: From a list of subject areas, they were asked to choose two that evoke the most challenging problems among educators and policymakers in the early education space. Here's what they had to choose from:
- Workforce/Human Capital
- Quality: Standards, Curricula and Environment
- Data & Assessments
- Family Friendly Policies and Engaged Families
- Transitions and Pathways
And here’s how the votes came out:
- Workforce/Human Capital - 4 votes
- Governance/Infrastructure - 3 votes
- Quality - 3 votes
- Data & Assessments - 2 votes
Participants saw challenges in several areas, not just one or two. We also asked them to jot down key questions related to each area. Here's a sampling of what they came up with:
• How do we create governance structures to support birth-through-age-8 services?
• What is the operational cost of blending and braiding funding to sustain programs?
• What needs to be done to drive funding to these younger age groups?
• What resources are needed to support quality in educational standards and curricula?
• How do we make quality systemic?
• What are the skills and competencies that the workforce needs at each of these levels (working with infants and toddlers, pre-kindergartners, kindergartners, and children in the first, second and third grades)?
• How might we build a system of diverse pathways toward advancement in careers in teaching and leading?
• What incentives are out there to recruit and retain specialization in early childhood?
• How do we assess and document quality?
No doubt, there's lots of work to do to provide satisfying answers to even one of these questions, let alone all of them. We're looking forward to continued conversation about these issues on the online Early Ed Forum that we launched following this in-person policy forum. We populated the online discussion space with the questions above as a starting point. Do you have ideas, promising practices, lessons learned, challenges to share or other questions related to these issues? Join the discussion online!