Teachers Speak Out

This week, Defending the Early Years (DEY) launched its two-minute documentary, “Teachers Speak Out”. In this first mini-documentary, public school kindergarten teacher, Bianca Tanis, discusses the hijacking of early education and the growing crisis among early learners. Too many children are being identified as having special needs or behavioral issues when they simply need to move, play, and learn through exploration.

The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute believes that young children need and deserve the best start possible in their early years. When young children are protected, nurtured, and encouraged to learn about what interests them they have a better chance of thriving in childhood and securing healthy and productive futures. The Institute encourages you to watch and share this important mini-documentary, available here in English and Spanish.

To watch the documentary, click here.




The Aspire Registry Spring Newsletter

The Aspire Registry team has released their spring newsletter. Since 2015, the Aspire Registry Newsletter has discussed the latest Registry news and events, and highlighted the work of New York professionals in the field of early childhood. The newsletter also provides information about useful resources and tips for early childhood professionals. The newsletter is distributed to over 25,000 Aspire Registry members, a number that continues to grow.

In the spring newsletter, the Aspire Registry shares information about the New York Association for the Education of Young Children (NYAEYC) Annual Conference. The Aspire Registry Team considers NYAEYC one of their most valued partners. Together they are working to make sure all early childhood providers have access to training and technical assistance.  Sessions at the conference being offered by other projects housed at the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute are highlighted as well as the very first Training of Trainers on The Aspire Registry. In addition, the newsletter features a spotlight on Chantel Smith, a Preschool Special Education Teacher in Westchester County. She shares why she decided to pursue a degree in early childhood and her favorite part of teaching young children.

To read the newsletter, click here.

NYAEYC Annual Conference

On April 19th, the New York Association for the Education of Young Children (NYAEYC) will hold their annual 3-day conference. The conference will include various educational workshops, exhibit tables, and presentations, including some by Institute staff. This year’s presentations from our team are below. For more information about the conference, click here. We hope to see you there!

Pre-Conference, Thursday, April 19th 

Training of Trainers: The Aspire Registry for New York’s Early Childhood Workforce (invitation only)

Diana Diaz and Louisa Higgins


Friday, April 20th

A Town Hall Meeting of the Governor's ECAC

Sherry Cleary and Patty Persell

Learning Communities: A Good Place to Foster Continuous Quality Improvement

Sara Lamaoreaux

Relationship Based Coaching

Sarah Longwell Stevens

Inspiration from Librarians: Storytime  as a Family Engagement Experience

Helen Frazier

Read more…

Yesterday was Equal Pay Day; Today Early Childhood Teachers Make their Voices Heard about Pay Inequity

Check out a recent article by Elizabeth McCarthy released on on April 11:   

Teachers who work for community-based organizations deserve equal pay

While teachers in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Oklahoma have been striking to protest their low and stagnant wages, New York has been lauded for offering the highest average salaries for teachers in the nation. In fact, most would agree that the powerful United Federation of Teachers (UFT) Union has negotiated a fair contract for teachers in the New York City Department of Education (DOE), with annual salary increases, including a three percent raise scheduled for next month. But if all of our teachers are truly being treated fairly then why are preschool teachers, their students and families planning a rally on the steps of City Hall today? 

Because, in direct contrast to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s admirable dream to make New York City the fairest big city in America, the story behind our early childhood education programming is still a “tale of two cities.”

Universal Pre-K and programs offering universal education for three year-olds draw teachers from two systems: the DOE, and a network of community-based organizations (CBOs). The DOE provides Pre-K classes in New York City public schools during the typical school year – 6.5 hours a day for a little less than ten months. CBOs provide seats in early childhood programs for about 55 percent of all Pre-K and three-year-old participants under very different parameters. These programs operate in communities where families qualify for free or subsidized child care so classrooms operate ten hours a day, twelve months a year. These centers not only provide the UPK and 3-K curricula, they often have additional on-site early intervention, mental health and family support services to address vital community needs – for no additional cost.

Read more…

The Disappearance of Child-Directed Activities and Teachers’ Autonomy

A recent report released from Defending the Early Years documents survey results of kindergarten teachers about the disappearance of child-directed activities. The report finds that schools in the wealthiest and poorest school districts in Massachusetts have reduced the amount of time kindergartners have for child-directed activities such as free play, rest, recess, snack and lunch. While these activities have been reduced, the study found that high socioeconomic status schools (SES) schedule 30 minutes more daily, two and a half more hours weekly, than low SES schools. In addition, a survey of kindergarten teachers in the wealthiest and poorest districts in Massachusetts revealed that most teachers are required to use scripted curricula that leaves some children bored or frustrated and teachers do not have enough time to reflect on and adapt their teaching. The report concludes that low SES kindergartners experience educational conditions that do not prepare them for a career in the creative economy where creativity, personal agency, and sense of purpose are necessary. Advocacy at the state and local level is recommended to compel schools to adopt practices that address the needs of children rather than the needs of administrators in pursuit of higher test scores.

The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute believes in access to excellence for all of New York’s young children, starting at birth. This report points out the need for policy makers and administrators in Massachusetts and across the nation to cease treating children as data points and to design responsive educational environments led by empowered early educators that nurture the whole child. The Institute works with state and local government to translate best practices and research into effective public policies for all sectors and services that impact the lives of young children, including public health, economics, housing, workforce development, criminal justice, mental health, education. These efforts help to ensure that young children receive high quality services in school, at home, and in their communities so that they are better prepared for school and life.

To learn more about the Institute’s work, click here.

Children’s Screen Time Action Network Conference

Angelica Velazquez is the Director of the Institute’s Informal Family Child Care Project. She is also on the board of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC). We asked Angelica to share information about CCFC and their upcoming Children’s Screen Time Action Network Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

What is the CCFC?

The mission of CCFC is to support parents’ efforts to raise healthy families by limiting commercial access to children and ending the exploitive practice of child-targeted marketing. In working for the rights of children to grow up, and the freedom for parents to raise them, without being undermined by corporate interests, CCFC promotes a more democratic and sustainable world.

What does CCFC do?

CCFC has built a powerful movement to end the exploitive practice of marketing to children and promote a childhood shaped by what’s best for kids, not corporate profits. This advocacy is grounded in the overwhelming evidence that child-targeted marketing undermines healthy development and the belief that society bears responsibility for, and benefits immeasurably from, the wellbeing of children. CCFC works to reduce marketers’ access to children through a variety of tactics and approaches. These approaches include changing attitudes, changing how children spend their time, changing children’s environments, and changing rules.

What is the goal of the Children’s Screen Time Action Network Conference?

The goal of the conference is to teach, learn, and develop innovative solutions to the serious issues surrounding screen and device use among children.  The conference will also promote collaboration by bringing together professionals dedicated to reducing children’s screen time, such as teachers, childcare providers, social workers, and family therapists.

Are there any featured speakers at the conference?

The conference will include a variety of speakers and presenters including, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, author, Taking Back Childhood: Helping Your Kids Thrive in a Fast Paced Media Saturated Violence Filled World , Victoria Dunckley, Integrative Child, Adolescent & Adult Psychiatrist, author, Reset Your Child's Brain,  Douglas Gentile, author, Media Violence and Children, Diane Levin, author, Beyond Remote Controlled Childhood, Susan Linn, author, Consuming Kids and The Case for Make Believe, special guest Paula Poundstone, NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me and author, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness  and many more.

Is this the first conference of its kind? If so, what prompted the creation of this event?

Yes, this is the inaugural Children’s Screen Time Action Network Conference. The Children’s Screen Time Action Network launched in November 2017 to share screen overuse resources with those providing direct service to families, including tools to share with parents, methods that work with families, and ways to communicate about screen limits without judgment. The conference provides an opportunity to share these resources and collaborate across disciplines such as pediatrics, education, and child development.

What are the benefits of attending this conference?

The benefits of attending this conference include learning about health risks related to screen and device overuse, workshops designed to communicate more effectively with parents, meeting other professionals who believe that reducing children’s screen time is necessary and possible, and exploring opportunities for partnerships.

What are the next steps/future implications of the conference?

It is our hope that participants will leave with lots of great information, strategies and resources to bring back to their respective roles and communities.  We further hope that the exchange of information, insight and experience started at the conference will continue within CCFC and in communities, institutions and homes as we continue to build momentum around these important issues.

To register for the conference, click here.

Good Leaders Make Good Schools

A column in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times (David Brooks, March 12th) discusses how strong leadership improves city schools. The article highlights schools in Washington, New Orleans, and Chicago that have increased test scores, increased graduation rates, and an increased percentage of students going to two – or four-year colleges directly after graduation. These improvements are due to talented leaders who build a culture within these schools and collaborate with their staff. These leaders embody trustworthiness, honesty, optimism and determination. In addition, Chicago has one of the highest principal retention rates of any large urban system. Principals are given support, training, and independence.

The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute believes in access to excellence for all of New York’s young children, starting at birth. This article points out that the excellence of schools and programs is reliant on the quality and caliber of the leader. The Institute, in partnership with the NYC Department of Education, launched the Leadership Initiative to support site-based leadership as a key strategy towards ensuring that every child has access to excellence. Through this initiative, current early childhood leaders, as well as those who aspire to leadership roles in the future, receive assistance and support to identify and meet individualized leadership development goals. They also have access to coaching and have the opportunity to engage in a range of professional learning activities including events, seminars and conferences that serve as opportunities for growth and development. Each of these efforts help to ensure that the children in these programs receive the high quality learning experiences they need to thrive and be successful.

To learn more about the Leadership Initiative, click  here.

Dr. T. Berry Brazelton

Two renowned scientists died yesterday.  One was Dr. T. Berry Brazelton.  He was a pediatrician.  Actually, he was this nation’s pediatrician.  I had the distinct honor of spending some time with Dr. Brazelton and I have always felt that he single-handedly changed the way this country understands infant children.   He also was the person who helped us understand just how essential the parent is to the healthy development of the child.  He made us understand the critical nature of healthy intimacy.

He was also the nation’s teacher – traveling the country to speak and train people to be more effective advocates and practitioners and writing countless books to help millions of teachers and families thrive in their roles with infants and young children, all while maintaining his professorship and his pediatric practice.

T. Berry Brazelton was one of the most generous people I have ever met – sharing his genius, passion, energy, and good humor in every encounter.  He was insightful and when you were in his presence you were quite sure that no one else was in the room.  I am betting that every one of his tiny patients felt the same way.  Whether you worked with him,  were treated by him, were taught by him, read his books, or whether you have encountered people that were changed by him, we are all better for having T. Berry Brazelton on this earth for nearly 100 years. 

In fond memory,

Sherry M. Cleary

Executive Director

The Art of Play and Wonderment in Early Childhood Conference at Brooklyn College


Colleen Goddard, PhD is the Educational Director at Early Childhood Center at Brooklyn College. She also works as a Child Development Specialist/Consultant at early childhood schools and centers in Manhattan and Brooklyn. She has over 23 years of experience in early childhood education. We asked Colleen to share information about the upcoming Art of Play and Wonderment in Early Childhood Conference at Brooklyn College. 

What is the goal for the Art of Play and Wonderment in Early Childhood Conference?

The goal of this conference is to provide a space for early childhood teachers, directors/leaders, coaches and faculty as well as artists and art educators within Brooklyn College, CUNY and throughout New York City to inspire, create, appreciate and think deeply about what we bring and wish to bring to our early childhood classrooms and profession.

This conference builds on the exhibition that enchanted early childhood professionals at The Wonder of Learning Exhibit, in 2015.  I feel it will be fantastic to look at play and wonderment and celebrate what that means to each of us through our own experiential lenses. It may look different from teacher to teacher, but collectively it is important to celebrate the art of interest, inquiry, and wonderment specific to young children’s play and our own engagement in imagination, reflection, documentation and creativity.

To reach our goal we used the work we have been doing for almost a year at the Brooklyn College Early Childhood/SOE Lab School in partnership with the faculty in the Early Childhood and Art Education Department (ECAE) as our springboard.  Starting with a careful rethinking and remaking of the physical space in the Early Childhood Center (ECC), we transformed the experiences for children and teachers in the classroom, which also influenced parents and their relationships with their children and the teachers, which we also want to share. We are inspired by the intentional curiosity and wonderment that the children present to us on a moment to moment basis here at The Early Childhood Center/Lab School of Brooklyn College. Their boundless energy, expert inquisitiveness and tender engagements move us as authentic educators, as we are called to attend, reflect, and respond to their every developmental need and milestones.

Read more…

Research on the Positive Effects of Early Childhood Education

A study by Georgetown University and a study by the National Institutes of Health highlight the positive effects of high quality early childhood education. According to the research from Georgetown University, eighth graders who attended Oklahoma’s universal pre-K program as 4 year olds had higher math scores, were more likely to enroll in honor classes, and were less likely to repeat a grade than those who did not attend. In kindergarten, students who attended the program were nine months ahead in reading, seven months ahead in writing, and five months ahead in math, these effects were especially strong among English-language learners. The results of this study shows that the positive effects of a high quality pre-K program are evident as late as middle school.

In addition, high quality early childhood education has also been linked to college success. According to the research from the National Institutes of Health, children who participated in an intensive childhood education program in Chicago from preschool to third grade were more likely to get a college degree than their peers who did not. Children who attended the Child-Parent Centers program, which provides intensive instruction in reading and math, combined with frequent field trips from pre-kindergarten through third grade, were more likely as adults to achieve an associate’s degree of higher.

Children are born learning and have the innate capacity to succeed. Both studies show that how well children learn in the early years sets the stage for the rest of their lives and that the quality of children’s early childhood experiences affects how well they learn. We, as a society, must envision and implement an early learning agenda that begins at birth. The New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute works to ensure access to excellence for ALL young children by working with early childhood organizations locally, across the state, and around the country to create and enhance comprehensive early childhood systems serving children from birth through age 8.

To learn more about the Institute’s work, click here.