« "Education Reform Doesn't Work" | Main | But I Am Still Thirsty »

Can We Get Some Real Coverage of Early Childhood Issues?

Lots of people have been tweeting or forwarding me Wednesday's Nicholas Kristoff column calling for increased investment in early childhood education as a response to growing economic inequality. And with good reason--it's rare that early childhood education gets such high-profile media coverage.*

But at the same time, this column also demonstrates how superficial media attention to early childhood education really is. Kristoff writes:

President Obama often talked in his campaign about early childhood education, and he probably agrees with everything I've said. But the issue has slipped away and off the agenda.

The irony here is that this article appeared on the very day that over 30 states submitted applications for the administration's new Early Learning Challenge program. This program, called a "early childhood Race to the Top" and designed to support states in building comprehensive early childhood systems and better coordinating funds and programs to improve school readiness, is basically a scaled down starting point to carry out the administration's campaign pledges on early childhood education. And it was widely hailed in the early childhood education community and by the administration as a historic investment.

Yet Kristoff doesn't even seem to know it exists. And that's not surprising, since Early Learning Challenge has gotten essentially zero attention in the mainstream media, particularly compared to the hype around the first Race to the Top. Now, granted, at $500 million, the ELC is not a very big program--particularly given the need and compared to the size of other federal investments such as Head Start. It's not focused on expanding access to the kind of pre-k programs Kristoff is writing about here. Nor is it how I'd choose to spend $500 million to get the best bang for the buck in early learning outcomes if I were in charge.

But those are interesting issues in themselves! Yet no one in the mainstream media is writing about the fact that, no, ELC is not actually a pre-k program, or about what it actually does, or about what states are doing in response to it, or about whether this is a smart thing to be doing or not. And those are potentially interesting stories!

There are hosts of stories in early childhood practice and policy that are much more interesting than the standard "rich people have trouble getting into fancy Manhattan preschools" and "should educated professional women feel guilty about putting their kids in daycare" fare. It's a field filled with colorful characters and internecine disputes just as impassioned and probably at this point more interesting than the "reformers vs. unions" debate in K-12. And a lot of people are actually interested in these issues. Early childhood education is increasingly part of both families' lives and our system of public education, yet it's still largely ignored in the mainstream media, or treated on only the most superficial of levels.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login |  Register
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Advertisement

Recent Comments

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags

AFT
Alex Grodd
Ana Menezes
Andrew Kelly
appropriations
ARRA
Aspire Public Schools
authorizing
Better Lesson
Bill Ferguson
certification
charter schools
child care
children's literature
choice
civil rights
CLASS
Core Knowledge
curriculum
D.C.
democracy
early childhood
Early Learning Challenge Grant
economics
elections
English language learners
entrepreneurship
equity
Evan Stone
fathers
finance
fix poverty first
Hailly Korman
harlem children's zone
HEA
Head Start
head start
health care
Higher Education
home-based child care
homeschooling
housing
How we think and talk about pre-k evidence
i3
IDEA
income inequality
instruction
international
Jason Chaffetz
Jen Medbery
just for fun
Justin Cohen
Kaya Henderson
Kenya
kindergarten
KIPP
Kirabo Jackson
Kwame Brown
land use
LearnBoost
libertarians
LIFO
literacy
Los Angeles
Louise Stoney
Mark Zuckerberg
Maryland
Massachusetts
Memphis
Michelle Rhee
Michigan
Mickey Muldoon
Neerav Kingsland
New Jersey
New Orleans
NewtownReaction
Next Gen Leaders
Next Gen leaders
nonsense
NSVF Summit
NYT
organizing
parent engagement
parenting
parking
pell grants
politics
poverty
PreK-3rd
presidents
principals
productivity
QRIS
Race to the Top
Rafael Corrales
redshirting
regulation
religion
rick hess
Roxanna Elden
RTT
san francisco
school choice
social services
SOTU
special education
Stephanie Wilson
stimulus
story
Sydney Morris
tax credits
Teacher Prep
teachers
technology
Title I
unions
urban issues
Vincent Gray
vouchers
Waiting for Superman
Washington
West Virginia
zoning