The first 2019 episode of the California Community Colleges podcast series covered the very important topic of Early Childhood Education, with an emphasis on child care providers and educators. The podcast, hosted by Eloy Ortiz Oakley, Chancellor of California Community Colleges, features a conversation with two knowledgeable early learning advocates: Samantha Tran, Senior Managing Director of Education Policy at Children Now, and Heather Hough, Executive Director of Policy Analysis for California Education.
The 30-minute podcast, available here, is worth a listen. Following are a few highlights of the conversation:
All three speakers expressed optimism about Governor Newsom’s call for increased investment in quality early learning.
Samantha Tran noted that, “in the first 3 years of life, every second a child is making a million neuroconnections. The architecture of the brain is being built,and the relationships that they have with parents and caregivers have a direct connection with later success.”
The road toward quality starts with investments in the adults who care for and teach children aged 0-elementary school transition. Investments need to be made in wages, career opportunities, and achievable paths toward credentials.
California is working on closing the academic achievement gap, but to do that must recognize that the gap exists even before kindergarten. Heather Hough added that the achievement gap is so big when children start kindergarten that our school system isn’t able to support and close the gaps fast enough, when compared to other states.
Chancellor Oakley asked Tran and Hough to explain the difference between early childhood education and universal preschool since people often, mistakenly, use those terms interchangeably. Universal preschool typically describes classroom settings for four year olds, while early childhood education describes development in children from birth through the transition to elementary school.