Optimal Learning Environments - Dr. Alicia Valero-Kerrick
The Early Childhood Professional and Education Policies
Posted November 2nd 2014

The federal government has enacted many education policies that have shaped the field of early childhood education. Legislated public education policies have helped stimulate educational and social reform in the United States. Children from low-income families and children with special needs have benefited from both federal and state policies. Without these education policies, many students would not have access to early intervention services, preschool programs, and special education programs. Education policies impact on all aspects of early childhood education programs, including the role of the teacher. It is important that teachers be familiar with education policies so that they can implement them effectively in the classroom. Teachers also need an understanding of how education policy is created at the national, state, and local levels.

At the national level, Congress passes federal legislation that sets education priorities. The hallmark education policy, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, has undergone various reauthorizations over the years that have led to new program development and modification of existing act provisions. For example, Congress is currently working on reform of the most recent reauthorization of ESEA, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. NCLB emphasizes accountability and standards-based reform. A provision of NCLB is that all classrooms be taught by highly-qualified teachers. Concerns expressed by educators have brought attention to the overemphasis on tests and the narrowing of the curriculum. Further, states can lose federal funding if they do not comply fully with NCLB requirements. While federal legislation mandates that schools implement education policy, it is up to each state to address student achievement, accountability measures, and teacher effectiveness.

Based on the U.S. Constitution, state governments have authority for public education. The state board of education sets policy for the state superintendent and state department of education. States develop academic standards, curriculum frameworks, and set teacher certification requirements. States, such as Colorado and California, have emphasized a system of quality assurance for all early childhood programs to ensure more preschool students receive a high-quality education. Currently, most states have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for math and English language arts which provide guidelines on what students should learn at each grade level. States also have adopted early learning standards for preschool children.

At the local level, policies are developed by a school board, and executed by the district superintendent with the assistance of school principals. Ultimately, how education laws are implemented depend greatly on the classroom teacher who is most closely responsible for the students. Understanding the impact of education policy is very important for the early childhood professional. Involvement with professional, local, state, and national organizations keeps teachers informed about laws written for education reform. For instance, the National Education Association (NEA) is composed of professionals in education and is committed to advancing the cause of teachers. Many teachers have shared their stories about the challenges of implementing NCLB law on the NEAís website (www.nea.org). These teachersí voices play a critical role in how laws are modified and reauthorized

Congress has not reauthorized the long overdue Elementary and Secondary Education Act, but the Obama administration has responded by granting states waivers from provisions of NCLB. The presidential election will certainly refocus education reform as a priority. This will likely bring positive outcomes as well as complex challenges to the field of early childhood education.

Share your perspective on why the early childhood professional needs to be knowledgeable of federal, state, and local education policies.

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Reply from Shannon Slabaugh posted on December 10th 2014
I definitely think early childhood professionals need to be knowledgable on federal, state and local education polices in order to be able to help the children succeed. Being knowledgeable about the policies being mandated by the federal, state and local education programs ensures that the childhood professional can be able to create a style of teaching that helps the child truly succeed in school. While I don't necessarily agree with the CCSS because I believe all children learn things at different paces, I do believe it is still essential that early childhood professionals are aware of the policies being implemented in their own field of work.
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Reply from Feuy Saeteurn posted on November 30th 2014
Early childhood professional needs to be knowledgeable in federal, state, and local education policies because how these laws are executed and implemented depend on state and school boards and teachers. Teachers should keep informed with laws because it may affect how they teach in their classroom. For example, California has adopted the CCSS so teachers must keep up with education policy so that they know what guidelines to follow on what their students should learn. The goal of common core is to provide educators clear and consistent goals and guidelines for every grade level and if implemented well, I think it will allow for progress in education system. Teachers play a big role in the process of changing laws so being knowledgeable on all levels will help ensure that their input is heard. Teachers are responsible for student's education so knowing what is happening to policies so that they are qualified to meet education requirements.
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Reply from Evelyn Sanchez posted on November 25th 2014
I believe that the early childhood professional needs need to be acknowledged at every level because education is key to success in a country. With more educated people, more progress is made, and better decisions are set out. I don't think that the Common Core State Standards are as effective because everyone learns differently and at their own pace so it is hard to implement such general standards for every age group.
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Reply from Luisa Ayala posted on November 18th 2014
I disagree with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) because I do not think that it is fair for all students to be required to be at specific level because of the grade that they are in. Every student is very different and they all learn at different paces therefore they should be graded based on how much they have improved from the year before. To me it is very important to stay updated with the laws that are being changed or that are trying to get passed because education is extremely important and as a future teacher I want to be aware of what the government has planned.
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Reply from Alina Shkrabak posted on November 16th 2014
Teachers need to be knowledgable on the education policies, because it affects how the teachers will teach their students. It is also important for the teachers to understand how education policies are created on all levels, because teachers are held to high standards. I do not agree with the Common Core State Standards. Even though there might be good intentions, I feel it is wrong to try to change the way students learn. How is that even possible? For thousand of years we have been teaching students a certain way and now we want to change it? I only see students suffering and that is not right.
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Reply from meng yang posted on November 12th 2014
Teachers should be allowed to teach from within their own knowledge. I do find it great that we have adopted the CCSS because it sets our system to become more equal. In otherwords, so all the children will be learning from the same rate. However, do not limit our teacher's teachings to the future kids of america. I do not believe in implementing laws on our teachers because we can only manage what they should and shouldnt teach, not how they should teach.
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Reply from alexus espindola posted on November 11th 2014
An early childhood professional needs to be aware of federal, state, and local educational policies in order to properly teach their class. With no knowledge of these policies teachers will be unfit for preparing the students for the future. These policies are their to benefit the their children but there are also requirements the children must accomplish with the assisant of their teacher.
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Reply from Natalie Horwath posted on November 6th 2014
The early childhood professional needs to be knowledgeable of federal, state, and local education policies because it is their job to. It is important to be up to date on all laws and policies to give early childhood students a chance to succeed. It is important for teachers to help student succeed to their full potential. A teacherís curriculum is essential for a studentís potential to do. Early school work and help provided from teachers lays the groundwork for how successful an individual will be in life. Personally I think education is such an important policy to be up to date on, since teachers are teaching our future adults of America.
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Reply from keianna quinley posted on November 5th 2014
Over 60% of children between when they born to the age of 5 today spend time in the care of someone other than their own parent(s).With A growing body of child development research, and program evaluation demonstrates that high-quality early childhood care and education programs improve school readiness and later outcomes for young children. This is especially true for children in low-income families. Research also showed that qualified and well educated care providers and teachers are the cornerstone of high-quality early childhood programs. However, studies have found that the majority of professionals who make up the current early childhood workforce are not adequately prepared. Attracting well-qualified early childhood professionals continues to be a challenge across all types of early childhood care and education programs.
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Reply from zoua yang posted on November 4th 2014
The early childhood professional needs to be knowledgeable of federal, state, and local education policies because they need to understand how these education policy is form at the national, state and local levels. For example, if a law or ac such as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is changed, the teachers need to be aware of that and change their way of teaching curriculum. Professionals can set and develop new standards of teaching, in the academic standards, curriculum frameworks, and set teacher certification requirements because of the state. Therefore, keeping track and updating yourself of little changes of these policies is a priority. All of these policies are what sets and develop by school board to make a school successful too; so it is important to know why it exists to help and benefit early childhood professionals.
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