Nicholas Kristof:  Getting Beyond The Education Wars – Let’s Focus on Early Childhood Education!

Dear Commons Community,

Nicholas Kristoph yesterday reviewed the sad state of public education reform in this country and made a plea for concentrating on the one thing that all agree on and that is the expansion of early childhood education.  His opening is a blast at the way we have polarized our education system into belligerent armies of competing ideologues. 

“For the last dozen years, waves of idealistic Americans have campaigned to reform and improve K-12 education.

Armies of college graduates joined Teach for America. Zillionaires invested in charter schools. Liberals and conservatives, holding their noses and agreeing on nothing else, cooperated to proclaim education the civil rights issue of our time.

Yet I wonder if the education reform movement hasn’t peaked.

The zillionaires are bruised. The idealists are dispirited. The number of young people applying for Teach for America, after 15 years of growth, has dropped for the last two years. The Common Core curriculum is now an orphan, with politicians vigorously denying paternity.

K-12 education is an exhausted, blood-soaked battlefield. It’s Agincourt, the day after. So a suggestion: Refocus some reformist passions on early childhood.”

“Even within early education, there will be battles. Some advocates emphasize the first three years of life, while others focus on 4-year-olds. Some seek to target the most at-risk children, while others emphasize universal programs.

But early childhood is not a toxic space, the way K-12 education is now. So let’s redeploy some of our education passions, on all sides, to an area where we just may be able to find common ground: providing a foundation for young children aged 0 to 5.”

Kristoph’s observations are right.   An investment in early childhood education might be the common ground on which to detoxify the environment we call public education.




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