Vision 2015 Conference: Early Childhood Panel Tackles Next Steps
The recent refrain on early childhood education in Delaware is that everyone supports change—improved quality, access, funding, and coordination—but there’s no money to make it happen, so we haven’t gotten into real conversations about how it should happen or what to take on first.
Sounds a lot like where K-12 education was a few years ago, before Vision 2015 brought disparate voices together to focus on these issues before the Obama Administration established national priorities under Race to the Top that captured states’ attention (and were ultimately aligned with Delaware’s original direction). The opportunity to position Delaware similarly in early childhood is here; the federal Administration and Congress have proposed and continue to support the Early Learning Challenge Fund (a Race to the Top for early childhood).
So what can be done to get Delaware to the front of the pack? An afternoon panel at today’s Vision 2015 Conference “Racing to Deliver” discussed the following possibilities, many of which echo recommendations made by the Policy Matters Committee and other groups in recent years:
· Build on the pilot Kindergarten readiness study to establish a state baseline and benchmarking tool so we can use it to target quality investments and tailor instruction, which would be supported by a forthcoming Head Start grant
· Invest in and raise quality standards—through the Stars quality rating and improvement system–without overburdening providers, through strategies such as requiring that a portion of the day be taught by a qualified teacher with a BA
· Build a longitudinal data system (as proposed in Race to the Top) across departments to track progress and inform decisionmaking
· Developing the coalition and informing the public to support policy changes and build will for future policy changes and investment needs, to create the sustained public-private partnership that will be required
· Continue efforts to coordinate initiative across the three agencies (Education, Kids’, and Health and Social Services) that administer early childhood services, such as the interagency working group and Interagency Resource Management Committee
The momentum of a new administration, Early Childhood Council, and federal push, and the boost Delaware received by winning Race to the Top position Delaware to continue these—sometimes difficult—conversations and take the next step. As speakers throughout the day said, it is a moral imperative to serve all children, and we know that this depends on their development before they enter the K-12 system.
These live updates are being shared throughout the day at the Vision 2015 Annual Leadership Forum, “Delaware’s Race to Deliver” on Tuesday, September 28, 2010. You can also follow our updates on Facebook and Twitter. Learn more about Vision 2015, and check back on our blog for post-conference coverage.