Denisha Jones on Early Childhood’s Lesson for School Choice

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With Betsy DeVos at the helm of the U.S. Department of Education, choice has ascended to the top of the policy agenda. Charter schools, vouchers, and other nonpublic options are proliferating—the grandchildren of free-market economist Milton Friedman, who viewed the elementary and secondary system as a monopoly in dire need of competition.

Staunch proponents of choice view it as a solution for the nation’s persistent opportunity gaps. Denisha Jones, a national advisor to Defending the Early Years, where this post originally appeared, highlights the inequities of America’s market-based early childhood system as a cautionary tale.

Jones is . . . Read full article →

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Susan DuFresne: Humanity Stripped from a Whole-Child System

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Last summer, I reviewed Learning Together, a book that links Vygotsky’s theory of social constructivism with the vision of the Framers’ vision for American democracy. Here’s the thesis:

By developing habits of mind and heart that enable children to construct knowledge through meaningful relationships, [social constructivist early childhood education programs] help to..realize the Framers’ vision of a regime that depends for its survival on the capacity of individuals to advance and disseminate knowledge through their association…and build skills such as inter-subjectivity, cognitive integration, attachment, executive function, self-regulation, discipline, synthesis, creativity, respect, and ethics.

Susan . . . Read full article →

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Where's the Money to Help Every Child Achieve?

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The nation’s youngest children got the shaft. Again.

Everyone’s been on tenterhooks this week, awaiting the fate of the Every Child Achieves Act. Today, “yes” filled the Senate chamber, a bipartisan majority approving the very belated reauthorization of No Child Left Behind.

Annual testing—the cause of great consternation—is still with us, alas. Federal sanctions have gone, leaving that business to the states. Private-school vouchers are out. The Secretary of Education can dictate neither curriculum, standards, nor tests, and is barred from tying test scores to teacher evaluations. As Diane Ravitch, the nation’s education historian-in-chief succinctly put . . . Read full article →

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An Rx for our Ailing Human Ecosystem

There once was a child psychologist named Urie Bonfenbrenner, who toiled at Cornell, in Ithaca, New York. From his formidable brain emerged a bio-ecological theory of human development. Children, he said, don’t develop in isolation, but rather in relation to the institutions in which they’re “nested”: home, school, community, workplace, and the larger society. In a human ecosystem, we’re all connected by a complex constellation of relationships. As Bronfenbrenner wrote in his seminal work, The Ecology of Human Development:

Whether parents can perform effectively in their child-rearing roles within the family depends on… demands, stresses, and supports emanating from other . . . Read full article →

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