Carpe Diem: It's Pre-K's Day | Teachers College Columbia University

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Carpe Diem: It's Pre-K's Day

“We need to seize the opportunity before us and show that investing in children makes the world of difference. As you head off to your corners of the world, know that there are a lot of us here at TC ready to help.”

The speaker, Lucy Calkins, Founding Director of TC’s Reading and Writing Project, was addressing an audience of some 300 educators, policymakers and students at “Seize the Moment: Rise to the Challenge of Pre-K,” an all-day conference on early childhood education co-organized by TCRWP and the Teachers College Early Childhood Education Program.

Keynote speakers at the conference included Michael Sykes, Director of the Early Childhood Leadership Institute at the National Center for Urban Education, University of the District of Columbia, and author of Doing the Right Thing for Children: Eight Qualities of Leadership; Mariana Souto-Manning, TC Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education; and Sharon Lynn Kagan, co-director of TC’s National Center for Children and Families and Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy.

The specific opportunity Calkins referred to is New York City’s foray, begun this past year, into providing universal pre-kindergarten to four-year-olds – but on a broader level, she was alluding to the growing movement nationwide recognizing early childhood as a critical window for learning.

“The question is how to make this moment count,” said Kagan, who underscored that there has not been a more promising time for early childhood. A big part of the answer, she believes is to continue laying the groundwork for a truly comprehensive early childhood education and care system that uses multiple federal, state and local funding streams as efficiently as possible. Success would depend on establishing eight interlocking components: early childhood programs, improving quality and regulation; personnel and professional development; financing; informed families and informed public; standards; assessment and accountability; linkages to K-12 education; and governance. We need to think of early childhood education as a system,” Kagan said, “and if any of the eight elements are missing, we will fail children.”

Published Saturday, Mar. 7, 2015


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