Working Together for Equity in Education for America’s Youngest Learners

September 21, 2020

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As we go through the fall and winter, we know educational programs will need to continue to adapt to protect educators and children from COVID-19. As we do so, we must continue to focus on our youngest learners, as we know the benefits that quality early education brings to them.

The Children’s Equity Project (CEP) and the Council for Professional Recognition are committed to working towards equitable learning environments for all children. The work is hard, but we know there are overwhelming benefits to high-quality early childhood programs.

In July, CEP and the Bipartisan Policy Center released a joint report that takes a deep look at the data, research and policy landscapes of equity in early education. Start with Equity—From the Early Years to the Early Grades: Data, Research, and an Actionable Child Equity Policy Agenda presents three key areas that need to be addressed on behalf of disadvantaged children of color and children with disabilities:

  • Harsh discipline and its disproportionate application
  • The segregation of children with disabilities in learning settings
  • Inequitable access to bilingual learning opportunities for dual-language and English learners

Top findings from the report include the following:

  • Racial disparities exist across each issue area, across child ages and across states.
  • Teacher preparation and professional development are poorly resourced, and they inadequately and insufficiently address equity in learning.
  • Segregated learning for children with disabilities is common, and varies by state, child race and disability category.

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for every aspect of education, including early childhood programs. It has also revealed the precarious and inequitable state of our learning systems” said CEP founding director Dr. Shantel Meek. “We must all work together to make sure policymakers and others in leadership roles understand this issue is not going away and is particularly challenging for Black, Latinx and Native American children. But we must do more than understand the issues- the time to act is now. We need meaningful change that upends systemic racism and builds a stronger, more equitable learning system for our youngest children.”

Recently, the Council announced its efforts around the quest for equity in education. As part of its work, the Council released the white paper Standing Up for the Best in the American Dream: The Poverty Cycle and the Impact of Pre-K. The paper highlights the Perry Preschool Project, among other research, which focuses on the significant return on investment that high-quality early education can have on vulnerable children.

“All children should have access to equitable learning opportunities,” said Council CEO Dr. Calvin E. Moore Jr. “Research has shown us that there are overwhelming benefits to high-quality early childhood programs. Challenges exist in providing what we know helps Black and Latinx children. But despite those challenges, the Council is committed to working to eliminate structural inequities that hamper our youngest children from achieving their full potential by administering a rigorous national credentialing program that supports the professional development of the educators working with them.”

As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, we will work to push these important issues forward and look for ways to collaborate with other organizations. All of our youngest learners deserve to be set up for success.

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