|Early Childhood Education & School Readiness|
California Tomorrow works to shape early childhood education and school readiness efforts to meet the needs of diverse communities.
In the 1990s, under the direction of Hedy Chang and Dora Pulido-Tobiassen, California Tomorrow’s early childhood education work focused on research about diversity and equity trends in programs throughout the state, the creation of basic principles for early care in a diverse society, and the creation and piloting of training modules and materials for early childhood educators. In the past few years, we have refocused on school readiness in response to the large-scale investment of resources nationwide in “school readiness” policies and initiatives. The objective of those initiatives is better long-term educational outcomes for children through quality early education and family supports. Most school readiness efforts share an explicit commitment to reducing disproportionately poor educational outcomes among low-income and minority children and families. Yet the promise of these initiatives is undermined by access barriers facing immigrant and low-income families, insufficient understanding of the central role of children’s cultures in their development, and inadequate infrastructure for training early childhood educators to deliver culturally responsive programs.
In response to the opportunity posed by current policy attention to school readiness – and to the dangers we believe exist if those new efforts are not designed to meet the needs of immigrant families, communities of color and low income children – California Tomorrow has stepped up to provide information and analysis, to help guide research, and to build a voice for the creation of early childhood education systems that are family strengthening, culturally supportive, and linguistically accessible to the diverse communities of our state.
Please visit our Resources to learn more about our resources and publications that focus on Early Childhood and School Readiness.
- In 2004, we researched and published Ready or Not, a “think piece” on school readiness and immigrant communities, laying forth a vision of immigrant-responsive school readiness, and raising awareness of some of the dangers in current directions in early childhood curriculum, student assessment and program design.
- We are conducting a series of one-day School Readiness Institutes to engage policymakers, early childhood educators, foundation staff, and K-12 educators in understanding the dangers and opportunities surrounding school readiness efforts, in discussing positive directions, and in using research and tools to shape more culturally responsive school readiness initiatives.
- We have designed and piloted a ten-week Parent Leadership series in the Lower San Antonio neighborhood of Oakland, California, focusing on early childhood development and school readiness.
- We have worked to help form and continue to play a key role in a new statewide Preschool Coalition to address issues related to English Learners, and we have developed a preschool agenda for the statewide coalition Californians Together.
- We facilitated a four month dialogue process for the Southern California Comprehensive Assistance Center, including eight Southern California county offices of education, to develop a set of Research-Based Guiding Principles for School Readiness and English Learners.
- We are conducting a statewide implementation assessment of the California First Five Commission’s Principles on Equity, and providing technical assistance and support to the Commission on strengthening implementation of these principles. We have also supported First Five Commission staff in developing a position statement and strategies for applying the Principles on Equity to meet the specific needs of English Learners in early childhood education.
- In partnership with a national working group on Culture and Language in School Readiness, we produced the policy paper Getting Ready for Quality: The Critical Importance of Developing a Skilled, Ethnically Diverse Early Childhood Workforce.