"In States that make it a priority to educate our youngest children...studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own."-- President Obama (State of the Union, Feb. 12, 2013)
WORKING TOWARD PRE-K FOR ALL
Click here to watch an easy to understand explanation of President Obama's plan!
300 BUSINESS LEADERS SUPPORT EARLY LEARNING by signing a letter to President Obama and Congress urging them to invest in early learning programs. Click here to read the letter.
SECRETARY ARNE DUNCAN VISITS STUDENTS in Kentucky and Ohio to talk about Early Learning stating that, "Investing in high-quality early childhood education will help all of our children get off to a strong start." Click here to read more.
For information regarding Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge states and the FY11 Scopes of Work, please click here.
California's RTT-ELC implements an unique approach that builds upon the local and statewide successes to create sustainable capacity at the local level and addresses the geographic and cultural diversity of California. Click to read more.
Interested in other programs in California? Click Here!
"Promise Neighborhoods is a federal place-based initiative intended to turn neighborhoods of concentrated poverty into neighborhoods of opportunity."
BOSTON PROMISE INITIATIVE is a child-centered, place-based strategy that focuses on improving low-performing schools. Click here to read more.
The Office of Early Learning is in collaborative efforts with many government and non-government agencies. Here we highlight early learning work at our agency partners.
Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
ACF Releases Early Childhood State Advisory Council Status Report 2013 which provides a status update on the progress made by federally funded State Advisory Councils since the grant was awarded. Click here to read more.
Announcing the PRINCIPAL AMBASSADOR FELLOWSHIP
The Department of Education is proud to announce that the first-ever Principal Ambassador Fellowship has officially launched. This program is meant to recognize the important impact principals have on instructional leadership, the school environment, and talent management. Click here to read more.
2013 Finalist for National Teacher of the Year
Early Childhood, Special Education Teacher
By Anni Krummel
Q: Why is early childhood education important, especially for children with disabilities in inclusive settings?
Alex: As an early childhood educator, I have three major areas I focus on when discussing the importance of early childhood education. First, early education is an opportunity to close the achievement gap before entering kindergarten. If we wait until kindergarten to close the gap, I believe it is too late. It is extremely important to get our students ready for academic life and social experiences. Second, I believe inclusive settings are important, not only for children with disabilities but also for typically developing students. The typically developing students become not only helpers in the classroom but also allies for the children with disabilities. I believe when teachers tell me they have challenges in higher grades with their students with disabilities it is because the typically developing students were not exposed to diversity at an early age. Creating inclusive early childhood classrooms makes things easier by creating peer allies who know how to interact and facilitate learning with them. Typically developing children also benefit by developing empathy and maturing in the classroom setting. Third, it is very important to have males in early childhood classrooms, especially in economically depressed areas. Many students come to my classroom from single mother homes. I am the only male influence in many of their lives.
Q: What is your view of the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. document?
Alex: There are many positive aspects of the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. document. I believe it gives teachers an opportunity to grow in their careers without leaving the classroom. I agree that teachers need higher salaries and also need to be held accountable. The “peer teacher” and “hybrid teacher” positions are great, in my opinion. These programs keep good teachers in the classroom and allow them to grow and gain credibility by exposing their own knowledge and practice to others. However, as an early childhood teacher in the field I do have some constructive criticism. In order to be considered “highly effective” as a teacher, the school in which you work must be performing well. As one of four national finalists for teacher of the year I am not considered “highly effective” because of the area in which I teach. The R.E.S.P.E.C.T. document has a lot of potential, but there is room for improvement.
Q: As school based preschool programs expand, how do we ready principals for prekindergarten classrooms entering their buildings?
First, principals must value the prekindergarten classroom in their building. If the teacher does a good job then it makes the jobs of the teachers in other grades easier. The prekindergarten teacher gets the students ready for kindergarten. Second, principals need to keep an open mind; the setting is different. There will not be students sitting in desks, but rather most of the instruction will be happening on the carpet. However, everything in a prekindergarten classroom is done for a reason. If a principal enters a prekindergarten classroom and it appears as if the children are only playing, the principal should talk with the teacher. When the teacher is able to give an explanation or answer the “why” of learning through play, then the prekindergarten teacher is doing their job and is a professional.
Click here for a link to the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. document Alex refers to in his interview.
Anni Krummel is an Intern in the Office of Early Learning, an early childhood special education teacher, and a doctorate student.
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Title I Preschool Guidance
"The U.S. Department of Education is committed to improving the health, social-emotional, and educational outcomes for children from birth through third grade, and high-quality early learning programs are a critical component of our overall reform agenda." Deborah Delisle, Assistant Secretary, April 16, 2012. Click here to read more.
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