ECE NewsWatch (ENW): How long has the nation been going in the wrong direction with policy-making for early childhood education? How far back was the exit we missed, and what are our chances of getting on the right interstate again?
Nancy Carlsson-Paige (NCP): I remember when there was a push for more academic content in early childhood in the 1980’s with the back-to-basics movement, but at that time we were able to almost halt its influence on young children because of the strong position NAEYC took with its publication Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) in 1986. Since that time though, we’ve lost a lot of ground as two important trends have lined up to take us in the wrong direction. First, NAEYC has gradually retreated from its strong defense of DAP to the point where the organization has given its support to the Common Core standards. As many early childhood educators and professors have attested, many of these standards are developmentally inappropriate, ignore children’s needs, capacities, and cultures, and do not honor their uniqueness as learners. Second, there is a forceful, nationwide push for early academics that was first legislated by the No Child Left Behind act of 2001 that has now gained traction from Race to the Top that requires standards for pre-K that align with the Common Core.
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