Getting back to normal may be a chief goal of cities, states and ordinary people as the pandemic subsides. But when it comes to the broken state of early childhood education in the U.S., the status quo would be nothing short of an unfortunate outcome, says Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
On Tuesday, Cardona convened a virtual gathering with early childhood stakeholders and leaders to discuss topics such as the early childhood workforce, child care and pre-K, early intervention, special education services and family engagement, in hopes of informing and shaping the Education Department’s priorities around early care and education.
“We know that this upcoming year is going to be critically important,” Cardona said in opening the roundtable, “and this conversation today is going to help shape some of the work that we do in early learning.”
Joan Lombardi, a senior scholar at Georgetown University and expert on child development and social policy who joined the call, said that the pandemic has created an environment ripe for collaboration among families and early childhood educators.
“I think we’ve seen a renewed coming together of parents as teachers, and teachers, realizing that they’re in this together, and I think you can build upon that,” Lombardi said. “I can’t reinforce enough how much we need to revolutionize the K-3 system … and the child care and preschool discussion … they should be planning together in a community.”
So far, the Biden administration has proposed a plan for universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds in the U.S.—the outcome of which still hangs in the balance of a divided Senate. And it has temporarily expanded child tax credits, which will come in the form of monthly payments from the federal government, starting in July, to about 40 millions U.S. households with children under age 18.