We know that millions of young children are disproportionately underserved and do not receive the high-quality education they have a right to. This problem in the U.S. has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and traumatic racial inequities.
Recently the Children’s Equity Project and the Bipartisan Policy Center released an important report that takes a hard look at the state of equity data, research and policy landscapes from the early years to the early grades. I had the honor of participating in several convenings that resulted in the report Start with Equity—From the Early Years to the Early Grades: Data, Research, and an Actionable Child Equity Policy Agenda.
The findings may not surprise you. There are three key policy areas that influence children’s experiences in the classroom and disproportionately disadvantage children of color and children with disabilities. They include:
• Harsh discipline and its disproportionate application
• The segregation of children with disabilities in learning settings
• The inequitable access to bilingual learning opportunities for dual language and English learners There is no time to waste.
This report provides a roadmap for states and the federal government to take meaningful steps to remedy these inequities in early learning and education systems. We could not agree more. Among the recommendations is preparation and professional development for the workforce. Our Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential is one way educators can help prepare themselves for dual language learners, children with disabilities, the role of culture in learning and more. For example, play is an ideal vehicle for children speaking two languages to practice the new language and make new friends. It is also important to understand children’s strengths and challenges in order to help customize their activities.
Following the release of the report, both organizations are collaborating on a series of webinars. The Start with Equity Webinar Series can be found on the Bipartisan Policy Center website.