Bianca Tanis on New York State Ed’s Shakedown of Early Childhood

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At EngageNY, a website maintained by the state’s education department, there’s a timeline for the implementation of the Common Core standards. As you might expect from a bureaucracy, it is not current, stranding us at the 2014-15 school year. A footnote, in red type, announces an update on November 18, 2013, available in a PDF file for downloading. We’re assured that the curriculum, instruction, and assessments are rigorous, that they focus on priority knowledge—whatever that may be—and skills to ensure college- and career-readiness.

Missing from the timeline is the sturm und drang of the process. Bianca Tanis, a . . . Read full article →

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Susan DuFresne’s Opt Out Bus: Riding for Schools that Children Love

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This summer, Susan DuFresne boarded the Opt Out Bus, with her husband, Shawn, to bring books to America’s children. She’s been recording what she found on her Facebook page, which contains this disclaimer: “The views I express on this wall are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer. #FreeSpeech.”

A kindergarten teacher in Washington State, where a former Microsoft executive is director of the Department of Early Learning, she has given a new face to early childhood activism, raising her impassioned voice for social justice and educational equity.

In New Mexico, one . . . Read full article →

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We’re Not in Reggio Emilia Anymore: Kathy and Ro’s Translation Project

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Play, the primary engine of human development, is vanishing. Melvin Konner, an anthropologist and neuroscientist, regards it as the central paradox of evolutionary biology, combining great energy and risk for an activity that seems pointless.

But pointless it’s not. The positive emotions evoked by interactions, physical exercise, and mastery of skills in play spurs us toward novelty and more flexible learning—an exquisite means of developing our brains, social selves, and alleviating stress.

Sadly, recent education policies have squelched what all the smartest mammals do naturally. Literacy and numeracy, the prime foci of the Common Core, have . . . Read full article →

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Enough Already with the Word Gap, Says Amy Rothschild

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I’ve been worried about the “word gap.” The 30-million vocabulary “deficit” discovered in low-income children by psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley in 1995. I’m concerned about the hidden curriculum.

“Deficit’ is the operative term. In an article published in the Teachers College Record a few years ago, researchers Sylvia Martinez and John Rury take us on a tour of the terms “culturally deprived” and “disadvantaged,” from 1960 through 1985, noting how they engendered controversy as frustration with educational change grew. They report on a group of sociologists at the University of Chicago, who convened a meeting to . . . Read full article →

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