Early Learning Tour Kicks Off in Washington, DC

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On Friday, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) held the first Listening and Learning about Early Learning meeting at ED’s Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Senior Advisor for Early Learning Jacqueline Jones (ED) and Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development Joan Lombardi (HHS) hosted a panel of experts from diverse segments of the educational community. While Dr. Jones reiterated the two departments’ focus on birth through third grade, the goal of this session was to better understand preschool through grade three (P-3) structures. The audience was made up of members of the public, federal staff, early learning stakeholders, and two hundred webinar participants.

President of the Foundation for Child Development Ruby Takanishi shared her foundation’s role in the conceptualization of district P-3 systems and their use as a successful strategy in school reform models to close the achievement gap. Dr. Takanishi cited the Montgomery County Public Schools as an example of a system that has successfully built bridges from prekindergarten through third grade by aligning standards, curricula, instruction, and assessments both within and across the early grades.

Montgomery County Superintendent Jerry Weast, documented the effectiveness of high-quality preschool through third grade programs in leading to better outcomes for children through grade 12.

Metropolitan State College of Denver Professor of Psychology Deborah Leong described a curriculum method that focuses on enhancing executive functioning in which preschool and Kindergarten children master self-regulation skills as well as early learning standards.

Gail Connelly, Executive Director of National Association of Elementary School Principals, described her organization’s interest in high quality P-3 programs. She noted, as had other panelists, that key components of successful P-3 models include joint professional development and articulation between preschool and K-3 teachers and enhanced knowledge of child development for elementary teachers and administrators.

Slide presentations and public speaker comments will be posted at www.ed.gov. The next three meetings will be held in Denver, Orlando, and Chicago. Each meeting will focus on a specific topic. Below are dates, places, and names of panel members for the meetings, which will run from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm.

Workforce and Professional Development: Monday, April 26, 2010, in the auditorium at the Center for Early Education, 3245 E. Exposition Avenue, Denver, CO
Marcy Whitebook, Director of Center for the Study of Child Care Employment
Ellen Galinsky, President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute
Phil Strain, Director of the Positive Early Learning Experiences Center in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver
Sue Russell, President of the Child Care Services Association

Family Engagement: Tuesday, May 4, 2010, at the Orange County Public Schools Educational Leadership Center, 445 W. Amelia Street, Orlando, FL
Don Bailey, Distinguished Fellow in Early Child Development for RTI International
Gene Garcia, Vice President for University-School Partnerships at Arizona State University
Carol Day, President of the National Black Child Development Institute
Heather Weiss, Founder and Director of the Harvard Family Research Project and Senior Research Associate and Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Standards and Assessments: Tuesday, May 11, 2010, at the Polk Bros. Lecture Hall at the Erikson Institute, 451 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL
Sam Meisels, President of the Erikson Institute
Kathy Hebbeler, Manager of the Community Services and Strategies Program at SRI International and Director of the Early Childhood Outcomes Center
Linda Espinosa, Associate Professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia
Catherine Scott-Little, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the School of Human and Environmental Sciences, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Registration: To attend or speak at a meeting, you must register at least 4 business days prior to each meeting you plan to attend. Seating and speaker slots are limited, so registering early is important. On-site registration will be permitted if space allows.

Please go to http://blog.ed.gov/2010/04/listening-and-learning-about-early-learning-tour-announced-for-dc-denver-orlando-and-chicago/ for complete information on registration, webinar attendance, submission of written comments, and special accommodations and assistance to individuals with disabilities.

See you in Washington, Denver, Orlando or Chicago!

Steven Hicks
Special Assistant on Early Learning