Issues related to excellence and equity.

Listening to the conversation with Director of Program Services, Delila Vasquez, I learned from the podcast that standards are good because they set the patterns and put a goal in front of educators of where we want children to be and what we want them to acquire.  What the policy makers don’t consider, though, is where the children are coming from, how much they know before they enter the preschool programs or how much they have learned. They only state what they want to accomplish, but do not take into account the whole child. 

School readiness has taken a turn but not necessarily in favor of children. The focus has been exclusively on academics.  Head Start was a program that was created due to achievement gaps, but there have been discrepancies on how families live, survive and what resources are available to them.  We need to observe social issues and other issues beyond want we see (Laureate Education, 2011).

In the changing face of kindergarten, the method of quantifying or measuring what preschoolers know needs to be changed.  The policy makers are missing the mark on measuring human progress not considering adaptation and how children really progress. Aspects of development such as social skills in building relationships and understanding communication are not considered.  The method of quantification they use puts tremendous pressure on the teachers and parents (Laureate Education, 2011).

The challenge to this approach is that good practices in early childhood education are being sacrificed. Instead of focusing on human development and allowing children to rehearse and practice what they have learnt through play, children are now being rushed to go on to the next thing. Assessment should be part of the big picture and not exclusively for academics, therefore,  the problem with this approach is that it creates a bigger gap than the one already existing. There is a need to find ways of determining what children need without sacrificing what is healthy for them. We as professionals must perfect the art of articulating the needs of children professionally and use the knowledge we have as educators to influence policy making (Laureate Education, 2011).

Exploring the website (http://developingchild.harvard.edu/about/what-we-do/global-work/), I gained some insights. One of these is on a science driven early childhood movement in Brazil.  CPAPI – Centro Brasileiro de Pesquisa Aplicada à Primeira Infância (or Brazilian Center for Early Child Development) aims to promote integral child development through scientific research at the frontier of knowledge to help formulate public policies based on scientific evidence for children.  This movement was formed because in Brazil, socioeconomic, educational, and cultural barriers still prevent children from developing their full potential. As a priority of its research agenda, the Center proposes to improve national home visiting programs through the creation of technologies and the collection of unprecedented data on child development. The information collected will allow forming a baseline to plan and evaluate interventions to qualify public policies for early childhood. In addition, CPAPI has knowledge sharing among its primary activities. Such knowledge is acquired through research and technologies transferring to public managers.  Their main activities are in research, technology transfer and knowledge sharing (Harvard University, 2021).

I listened to a podcast on “Brazilian Challenges and Global Perspectives for Child Development”, with Aisha Yousafzai and Dana Charles McCoy, professors at Harvard University, and Flávio Cunha, professor at Rice University. The debate was moderated by Marcia Castro, from Harvard University. From this podcast, I gained new insights about early childhood systems, one of the aspects as articulated by Cunha, is that the public sectors in Brazil and the U.S alike, have a lot of constraints.   Research is being carried out by the public sectors to find out if there is compliance to the policies they had prescribed and not to measure the outcomes of those policies.  The question here is if the public sector is willing to shift from a mindset of compliance to one of impact, are they ready to implement innovation?  Texas Policy Laboratory was formed by Rice University, Texas, to partner with State agencies and local agencies to see how public sectors can convert from policy to impact.

I also learned that there are major gaps in equity as child development is seen as a women’s issue. There are also the gaps of gender equity in parental leave policies, participation of family needs policies and men’s involvement in parenting programs. There is inadequate research to help children with developmental delays and disabilities. This group is a vast proportion of the Brazilian population as a lot of children were affected by the Zika virus (Harvard University, 2021).

References

Laureate Education. (2011). Issues and trends in the early childhood field: Excellence and equity

     of care and education for children and families—Part 1. Baltimore, MD: Author.

NCPI. (n.d).  Brazilian Center for Early Child Development.  Retrieved from

Harvard University. (2021).  Center on the Developing Child.  Retrieved from