Deborah Kenny is back with another op-ed, this time on
pre-K kindergarten in The Washington Post. Same format as last the time: A criticism that causes reform critics to swoon (she even cites Matt Damon’s mom!) then a pivot to a solution that leaves them aghast….the audio version sounds like this.
Kenny makes the point that in early ed (and this is true in education generally) standards don’t inexorably lead to the kind of practices that everyone thinks are counterproductive and bad for kids. They are the result of other issues (teacher quality, support for teachers, curriculum, training, etc…). There are plenty of evidence proofs for this idea, as well as research showing not surprisingly that richer teaching produces better outcomes on standardized tests than drilling. If you’re in D.C., go have a look at Appletree’s early-childhood work for one compelling example in the pre-K space. You’ll see kids learning a lot, and having a lot of fun doing it and it’s the kind of place most parents would be excited for their child to spend time. Charles Chieppo takes a look at what they’re up to for Governing.
Two bigger takeaways. First, the capacity issues here are huge, and that’s going to come to a head with Common Core and the temptation to shoot the messenger could prove – again – irresistible. Second, this field has a disconcerting fetish for false choices. As Kenny argues, the right over standards in early-childhood is a phony one. It’s also an incredibly poorly timed one coming at the very time the country is about to debate a landmark investment in early-education – and investment that faces an uphill fight for many reasons, including concerns about program quality.