Introduction to Advocacy
The leaders in early childhood education and policy makers across this country have embarked on an extraordinary, unprecedented effort, making Early Learning & Development of the young child a national priority. The President, White House Initiatives, Governors and State Leadership Teams have demonstrated widespread awareness of and commitment to early care & education as a major contributing factor to future economic success for all children, families and the country. Policy makers in every state now recognize the high return on investment, future college and career success, and strong reliance working families have on quality care.
Over the past decade there has been slow yet steady progress towards surging changes in the field of early childhood education. This activity began with mandates given to states by the Federal Government related to quality. These changes, while incremental, have increasingly received the attention of the Montessori community. In 2014, there have been significant additional federal and state commitments made through grants, partnerships, and policy changes that already have and will continue to expedite this activity, its impact, and our collective outcomes.
In the majority of ECE related policy activity we have taken reassurance, an increasing focus on quality only underscores the Montessori communities’ commitment to serve children well. We also learned our programs were not always well understood by those without similar background and training. In some cases, it meant our specialized methods did not translate well under traditional examination, outcomes were not readily recognized, and conceptually (while we wanted the same things) we learned to communicate our dissimilar means for attaining equally beneficial results.
Beginning with the Strong Start for America’s Children Act and continued through Preschool for All, Early Head Start Partnership and Expansion Grants, The Quality Charter School Act, Preschool Development Grants, Quality Rating and Improvement Systems, in 2014 alone, we have experienced activity in policy, grants, partnership and growth at an unprecedented level. The Montessori communities’ participation in shaping, responding to, and utilizing these developments provides an exceptional opportunity to fortify community footholds by schools, parents, children, teachers, etc. making Montessori education accessible to more children, validating our own efforts and increasing understanding of what makes Montessori education so inherently valuable.
This is where the adventure began; it represents an exciting moment in Montessori history, in this country. We are now using our spectacular community-organizing power to communicate, influence and participate in policy developments in ways and levels previously not accessed. As the White House and State Governments have taken hold of the reins on early childhood quality, access and expansion, it is now, more than ever, our mission to steer their momentum.