What an exciting time for early childhood educators, as mounting evidence affirms the value of early childhood education (ECE) programs. In 2011, Science Daily published “Large-Scale Early Education Linked to Higher Living Standards and Crime Prevention 25 Years Later,” based on the joint study by the Human Capital Research Collaboration and the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Showing a strong link between ECE and future socio-economic success, it grabbed the attention of educators, legislatures, and community leaders. Shortly after, the president’s Race to the Top educational funding initiative added an ECE component, offering funding incentives for states seeking to increase or improve their ECE programs. In many states, budgeting for ECE is being increased and corporate connections are increasing.
News stories celebrating successes are numerous, but ECE programs also face struggles. As The Washington Post reported last year in “Early Childhood Education Again in Spotlight,” the need to get parents involved and committed to ECE programs is extremely important, but a continuing challenge. The Syracuse Post-Standard published a story last month pointing out that ECE funding, while a smart investment, is lagging behind in New York—like it is in many states.
As the NAEYC Annual Conference opens in Atlanta, early childhood educators can look toward the future with optimism. While Common Core State Standards will be a major topic, educators can also look forward to panels and sessions on teaching strategies, best practices, funding resources, and outreach to parents. As funding issues will surely continue in all states, hopefully the growing evidence that ECE is important to the future of the U.S. workforce will help move early childhood education forward in all states.
If you are attending the conference in Atlanta, we hope you will stop by the Free Spirit Publishing booth (#1348) and share your own success stories with us. If you aren’t going, we would love to see them posted here.
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