It’s only made of concrete and barbed wire

Per previous, I can’t help feeling like there’s a significant contradiction at the heart of the Early Learning Challenge program that makes me uneasy about its potential impacts. One the one hand, the programs’ criteria around kindergarten readiness assessment and comprehensive assessment systems signify a shift towards increased emphasis on–and demand for–educational outcomes from early childhood programs. On the other hand, the primary tool that the program is demanding states put in place to drive those improved outcomes–Quality Rating and Improvement Systems–is a childcare quality strategy that has historically been much more focused on environmental and input conceptions of child care quality than on quality instruction. The question, then, is: Are the tools that Early Learning Challenge is asking states to put in place to raise quality in early childhood settings the sufficient or right tools to actually generate the outcomes they’re asking for? My guess would be that if states are really thoughtful and visionary about how they design and implement those tools, they might be (and later this week I’ll give a couple suggestions on what that might look like). But the proposed criteria alone don’t necessarily push states enough to do that. And given the fiscal pressure on states and the tight timelines they’re operating under to produce their applications, I’m not sure I’d want to bet that heavily on state vision to carry the day here.

–Sara Mead

One Reply to “It’s only made of concrete and barbed wire”

  1. You want “the primary tool” to be “the program [which] is demanding states put in place to drive those improved outcomes.” If that’s what your resting your faith on, give up.

    This is the United States of America. You can’t just complain about the worst of constitutional democracy and ignore our best qualities. It was both the great and awful aspects of our system that have defeated data-driven k-12 “reform.” For better and for worse, America will always defeat the dreams of social engineers.

    I can’t believe you think that data-driven accountability can be reconciled with “really thoughtful and visionary” policies. How much creativity was generated by Soviet Five Year plans?

    Face it. There are no guarantees in life. Join the political battle becuase you believe in the political battle. Give up on the technocratic mindset.

    Accountability will always be ONE PART of social reform. Accountability can’t DRIVE improvments. In America, it never has, and I bet it never will, and that’s one reason to be proud of, as well as frustrated by, our democracy.

    I’d love for you to bring your knowledge of early ed to a united campaign to improve early ed. After all, I don’t have a fraction of the knowledge you have of that subject. But if you had more knowledge of the people dynamics of k-12 schools, I think you’d reconsider this accountability fetish.

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