The nature of early care and education (ECE) programs in the United States, serving children from birth through age eight, has shifted dramatically in the last 20 years. With his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama positioned ECE at the top of his educational reform agenda. His acknowledgment of the importance of the early years in providing a foundation for children’s lifelong learning and the critical need for national reform is welcoming to those of us in the field; yet, we meet it with some trepidation. ECE has a history of fragmented services for children and families, relying primarily on inconsistent state funds. Additionally, the pressure to be more competitive with our global counterparts has led to an academic push down at all levels of education, including ECE, rather than an increase in support for schools to meet the diverse needs of young children. The President’s proposed initiative further contributes to this pressure on our youngest children, their families, and their ECE caregivers.
In this chapter, we examine the current state of the ECE field, with an emphasis on the years prior to kindergarten.
We analyze two federal ECE initiatives, and argue for a return to the original purposes of ECE that best serve young children and families.
Piker, R.A. and Jewkes, A.M. (2014), "Early Childhood Education in the Context of Educational Reform: Possibilities and Causes for Concern", The Obama Administration and Educational Reform (Advances in Education in Diverse Communities, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 3-26. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-358X20130000010001
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