Welcome to Defending the Early Years

This web site is a public forum managed by Defending the Early Years, a nonprofit project whose purpose is to encourage educators to speak out about current policies that are affecting the education of young children.

Our principal concern is defending children’s right to play, grow, and learn in an era of so-called standards and accountability. For years we have worked with organizations like the Alliance for Childhood, Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment (TRUCE), the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Concerned Educators Allied for a Safe Environment (CEASE), and others to promote play-based early education and common-sense policymaking. In 2010 we joined hundreds of other educators in issuing a joint statement of concern about the Common Core Standards for the early grades (see http://www.edweek.org/media/joint_statement_on_core_standards.pdf.)

Now we are seeing a new wave of standards and testing about to wash over preschool. Though it has become fashionable to give lip service to the importance of children’s play, the reality is that play continues to disappear in many schools, even for the youngest children.

Enough is enough. Defending the Early Years was launched to pursue these goals:

  • to track the real effects of these new preschool standards;
  • to promote appropriate guidelines for early childhood educators;
  • to mobilize the early childhood community to speak out with well-reasoned arguments against inappropriate standards, assessments, and classroom practices.

We are collecting evidence from across the country and will be surveying teachers, program directors, and child development experts, publishing our findings, and doing everything we can to make our collective voices heard. Let us hear from you. Tell us what is happening in your classroom, in your school, in your community.

6 thoughts on “Welcome to Defending the Early Years

  1. Very interest in what you are doing. As an early childhood educator for over 30 years, I agree with the goals you have in place. How can I become more actively involved?


  2. I REMEMBER I was 4 at a pond skating and all the kids had left. I was very scared but, I got myself home ok and nobody noticed. I knew then I could pull myself togrther


  3. I wholeheartedly agree with what you stand for and would like to become involved with your movement. I feel that we are creating a society of children who are becoming “small adults” and are not equipped to do so emotionally. What we are expecting at younger and younger ages is unacceptable and is harming our children. It speaks for itself in the number of young teens who are experiencing anxiety and panic disorders in record numbers. Let me know how I can help!


  4. I am impressed with your commitment to children. I hope you will be able to make a difference, but the big business interests who have written the Core Standards are mighty powerful. Do you have a petition I can sign?


  5. Some of the questions in the survey that required numbers did not apply to my situation and would not let me skip them, so I put zero, which may negatively affect your results. There should have been a non-applicable selection for EVERY question!

    The work you do is wonderful. Our profession needs to get the word out about age appropriate expectations and to make curriculum conform to the needs of children, rather than trying to make the children conform to the inappropriate curriculum.


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