|DEY Panel at NAEYC|
We received the following question from a friend and former student who is now a kindergarten teacher:
“I am public school kindergarten teacher, who is trying to convince my principal to let there be play in the kindergartens in my school. Can you recommend books to give him to help convince him that this can do positive things for the children’s skill learning, especially in social studies and science areas?”
Below is what we suggested…what would you add??
Here are a few quick ideas we culled from our recommended reading/resources page at DEY http://deyproject.org/recommended-reading-and-resources/:
article: The Serious Need for Play, by Melinda Wenner for Scientific American Mind, February/March 2009
On Twitter this week, a teacher asked DEY why our concerns regarding the Common Core State Standards and young children are being ignored. One big part of the puzzle is money. The Gates Foundation has spent $200 million dollars creating and promoting the Common Core State Standards. And corporations such as Pearson are laughing all the way to bank. Political commentator/comedian John Oliver described Pearson has having a “shocking amount of influence over American schools” in this scathing report on standardized testing. And POLITICO reports that Pearson “has reaped the benefits: Half its $8 billion in annual global sales comes from its North American education division. But Pearson’s dominance does not always serve U.S. students or taxpayers well. A POLITICO investigation has found that Pearson stands to make tens of millions in taxpayer dollars and cuts in student tuition from deals arranged without competitive bids in states from Florida to Texas. The review also found Pearson’s contracts set forth specific performance targets — but don’t penalize the company when it fails to meet those standards.” Read more.
It is incredibly difficult to break through all the money that is flowing in support of the Common Core, in order to get our message across. This recent letter to the editor of the Boston Globe by DEY’s director Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin helps illustrate what we are up against (published July 21, 2015 under the title A David-Goliath clash over what’s best for young kids):
CHRIS BERDIK does an excellent job outlining Defending the Early Years’ arguments against the Common Core standards for kindergarten in the June 14 Ideas piece “The end of kindergarten?” He also reports on the support for the Common Core from another nonprofit, Student Achievement Partners.
Here are some important additional notes for your readers: Student Achievement Partners was founded by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel, and Jason Zimba, lead writers of the Common Core. In 2012 Student Achievement Partners was given $6.5 million in grant money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In fact, the Gates Foundation has spent more than $200 million to implement the Common Core.
Defending the Early Years was founded, in 2012, by a coalition of concerned early-childhood educators who saw the writing on the wall and wanted to fight back. Last year our operating budget, all from donations from our supporters, was about .006 percent of what Student Achievement Partners received from the Gates Foundation in 2012. Our mission is clear, grounded in research, and based on what is best for young children.
Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin
Director, Defending the Early Years
It is true that here at DEY we have a tiny fraction of the budget that the CCSS promoters have, but what we DO have is early childhood expertise, experience, and decades of research on our side. The only thing we are working to promote is what is in the best interest of young children. And we are concerned that this entire focus on the Common Core has become a distraction, based on fallacy, from the underlying inequalities brought on by poverty. In fact, the CCSS has created another layer of stress in the lives of children – many of whom are already growing up with toxic stress.
With our limited budget, we have already reached millions of people with our three research-based advocacy papers published this year. We are making some noise and are pushing the conversation in the right direction. We want to do more and we need to keep going. For example, we are starting to translate some of our work into Spanish. We know this is important and we are committed to making it happen. If you are moved to support DEY with a tax deductible financial contribution, now is a great time. We have actually have a summer special (see below). We also urge all of DEY’s friends and supporters to continue to fight the good fight and to speak out with well-reasoned arguments in defense of developmentally appropriate curricula, standards and assessments for our young children.
- Donate $50.00 – we will send you a copy of Lively Minds!
- Donate $100.00 – we will send you two reports – Lively Minds and Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose
- Donate $200 or more – we will send you all three reports! Lively Minds, Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose PLUS Kamii’s paper on the CCSS math standards K-3!
Today, in conjunction with the Alliance for Childhood, we are thrilled to release our new report Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose. In the report we concluded that Common Core reading requirements for kindergarten are inappropriate and not well-grounded in research. Under Common Core, students are expected to be able to read before entering first grade.
The report maintains that the pressure of implementing the reading standard is leading many kindergarten teachers to resort to inappropriate drilling on specific skills and excessive testing. Teacher-led instruction in kindergartens has almost entirely replaced the active, play-based experiential learning that children need based on decades of research in cognitive and developmental psychology and neuroscience.
In an effort to shift back to a developmentally appropriate, child-centered curriculum, Defending the Early Years and Alliance for Childhood call for the withdrawal of the kindergarten standards from the Common Core so they can be rethought along developmental lines.
Please check out our video for more information!
Follow on Twitter and join the movement: @DEY_Project @4Childhood #2Much2Soon
Help us spread the word via social media. Here are some sample tweets:
1) #EarlyEd experts @dey_project @4childhood conclude #CCSS Kinder reading requirement is #2much2soon http://youtu.be/DVVln1WMz0g
2) Why @dey_project @4childhood call for withdrawal of kinder standards from #CCSS http://wp.me/p2bgV6-gl
Today we are pleased to announce the launching of our Early Childhood Activist Toolkit. The ToolKit has both Informational Resources and Action Resources. It also includes information about our new Action Mini Grant Initiative!
We have heard from many of you who are working hard to keep developmentally appropriate teaching, learning and assessing in our early childhood classrooms. We prepared the ToolKit to assist you with your very important efforts. As we know, current education reform is often working against these goals.
Please visit our website and let us know what you think – your feedback is valuable. This ToolKit is a direct result of our sessions at NAEYC’s Annual Conference (National Association for the Education of Young Children) in November, and we have been working hard to answer your call.
The shaping of the ToolKit will be an ongoing process, and your input is key. If you have thoughts on other items to add, please let us know.
DEY’s Action Mini Grant Initiative
We are excited to offer a mini grant initiative to help foster your good work in your community as related to DEY’s three principle goals:
- To mobilize the early childhood community to speak out with well-reasoned arguments against inappropriate standards, assessments, and classroom practices.
- To track the effects of new standards, especially those linked to the Common Core State Standards, on early childhood education policy and practice.
- To promote appropriate practices in early childhood classrooms and support educators in counteracting current reforms which undermine these appropriate practices.
We are offering grants from $200.00 to $500.00. We will begin accepting applications on a rolling basis beginning February 1, 2014. Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and up to 20 awards will be granted (depending on grant sizes). Possible actions include, but are not limited to:
- Hosting a parent information meeting
- Organizing a Call Your Legislator Day
- Spearheading a letter writing campaign to politicians
- Organizing a “Play-In” at the local school board
- Publicizing an “Opt Out” campaign
- See our website for more ideas…
Back now from Washington, DC and beginning to reflect on all that happened. Here are just a few initial thoughts — and more soon.
There were some encouraging indicators. Quite exciting was the turnout for DEY Senior Adviser Diane Levin’s featured session Beyond Remote-Controlled Childhood: Teaching Young Children in the Media Age. The massive room was filled – the estimate was at least 1,000 people in attendance. Diane explained the many ways in which young children are affected by popular culture and exposure to media. She shared successful strategies for working with children and families. In her speech Diane called for creating schools that take into account who today’s children are – and to much applause she questioned current misguided school reform.
Many thanks to Community Playthings for sponsoring this important session! If you missed the session and want to know more, Diane’s book is available through the NAEYC online bookstore.
Many thanks also to the early childhood teacher activists who joined us at our session Finding Your Voice: Becoming A Teacher Activist, and for our evening meeting at The Henley Park Hotel. You shared your stories and your ideas – and we learned as much from you as you (hopefully!) learned from us. It was encouraging to finally meet many of you in person, after having met only online until now. DEY will be working to follow up on the ideas shared, and so please stay tuned.
In the opening session it was heartening to hear NAEYC’s new executive director Rhian Evans Allvin encourage attendees to go out and vote. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Green Party…whatever your political inclination is: vote! Voting is one way for early childhood educators to use their voices. As this new bill, the Strong Start for America’s Children Act gains traction, it will be our voices that help to keep what is best for children at the center.
Finally, although I wasn’t able to attend the session, I heard great things about a reflection on advocacy from folks who have been working for high-quality early childhood education for decades – folks like Joan Lombardi and Marcy Whitebook.
Those are a few initial reflections…more will be forthcoming. Please feel free to add your own reflections and/or questions…
Barbara Beatty, professor of education at Wellesley College, recently wrote a piece Huffington Post. Her article, The Looming Fight Over Obama’s Pre-K Plan: It’s Not Just About the Money, looks some of the critical issues that DEY is working on.See below:
“Some educators now worry that Obama’s pressure on states to adopt the new national Common Core State Standards that mandate academic content and accompanying tests — which win points in U. S. Department of Education Race to the Top grant applications — will harm young children. Members of the Alliance for Childhood, Defending the Early Years, and others protest that forcing what they see as developmentally inappropriate academic content onto five-year-olds will turn kindergarten into the new First Grade. Teaching and testing academic skills will be pushed down even further, into pre-kindergarten. Already on the wane, time for unstructured “free” play from which children thrive educationally and learn important social lessons about cooperation and sharing, values necessary for citizens in a democracy, may almost disappear.”
Click here to read the entire article: The Looming Fight Over Obama’s Pre-K Plan: It’s Not Just About the Money.