Early childhood activists have been organizing in the UK. Last week the Save Childhood Movement in England - "a growing collaboration of individuals and organisations that share a deep concern about societal values and well being and the current erosion of natural childhood"- sent a powerful letter to The Telegraph (The Government should stop intervening in early education, Sept 11, 2013). The letter was signed by a long list of early childhood experts and is excerpted below:
"We are deeply concerned about the impact of the Government’s early years policies on the health and wellbeing of our youngest children. The early years of life are when children establish the values and mindsets that underpin their sense of self, their attitude to later learning, and their communicative skills and natural creativity.
Though early childhood is recognised world-wide as a crucial stage in its own right, Ministers in England persist in viewing it simply as a preparation for school. The term ‘school readiness’ is now dominating policy pronouncements, despite considerable criticism from the sector."
"Research does not support an early start to testing and quasi-formal teaching, but provides considerable evidence to challenge it."
"Instead of pursuing an enlightened approach informed by global best practice, successive ministers have prescribed an ever-earlier start to formal learning. This can only cause profound damage to the self-image and learning dispositions of a generation of children. We as a sector are now uniting to demand a stop to such inappropriate intervention and that early years policy-making be put in the hands of those who truly understand the developmental needs and potential of young children."
The very next day, here in the United States we received this announcement:
"The U.S. Department of Education has awarded more than $15.1 million in Enhanced Assessment Grants (EAGs) to three state education agencies - North Carolina, Maryland and Texas - to develop or enhance their Kindergarten Entry Assessments."
We have $15.1 million dollars going to Kindergarten - and it will be for more tests. This is precisely one of the practices that Save Childhood Movement's letter questions - and DEY questions as well.
U.K.'s Save Childhood Movement is inspiring. At DEY we are looking for ways to better organize the early childhood activists here in the United States. To that end we will be presenting and organizing at the NAEYC Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., November 20-23rd. More information will be forthcoming about our events in D.C. Please check back and join our email list. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We want to let you know about an exciting project that has just been completed. DEY has collaborated with United Opt Out to produce a fantastic new resource - A Guide for Parents: Advocating for Your Child in the Early Years.
United Opt Out is a nonprofit registered in Florida. It is a group of parents, educators, students and social activists who are dedicated to the elimination of high stakes testing in public education. The guide we collaborated on is part of their "Back-to-School Protest Pack" and is specifically geared to parents of young children who are just entering the public school system.
The guide includes many ideas for what parents can do to advocate for their child in the midst of our current testing mania. Click here to see the guide. Please share it far and wide!