A National ECE Outcry

PIC toddlers at magnet board

A monthly message from Executive Director Deb Green

I dedicate my May message to the explanation of a national outcry, in which the field of Early Childhood Education is currently at the center. Let me explain. 

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has been the guiding force in the field of Early Childhood Education for nearly 100 years. Much of the work done by NAEYC becomes the torch bearer for the profession. PIC’s Early Learning Program has been accredited by NAEYC since the late 90s and we are proud to be among 10% of the early childhood programs in the country to meet the vigorous accreditation criteria that define high quality. NAEYC also publishes countless resource books for teachers, nearly all of which we have in our resource library. 

Nearly 40 years ago NAEYC released a publication titled Developmentally Appropriate Practices (and quickly became known as DAP) that became a significant resource guide of what should happen in high quality early childhood classrooms. For the first time ever, early childhood educators were guided in affirming the individual identities of all children. With several updates, DAP is still considered one of the most important resources in the field, and has served as the foundation for high-quality early childhood education across all states and communities. 

And yet, recently the Governor of the state of Alabama forced the resignation of the Alabama Secretary of Early Childhood Education and NAEYC Board member Dr. Barbara Cooper for not removing this book from publicly-funded preschool classrooms across the state. The book has been used for teacher training sessions. The Governor specifically objected to book passages that referenced white privilege, systemic racism and LGBTQIA+ families. 

NAEYC responded with a public statement that included “Decades of research and evidence have confirmed the principles that children can’t learn math, science, and reading if they don’t feel seen, safe, and supported – which is what developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) is all about.” 

At PIC, we believe in the research-based evidence set forth in this book and believe that all children, all families, and all staff members, deserve to have their individual identities validated. We believe that it is only through such validation that we learn about one another, and that we value our differences as well as our similarities. 

PIC is a place of great diversity that includes diversity in values and beliefs. I hope that regardless of personal beliefs, everyone in our community can rally to support what decades of research has shown is best for young children. 

NAEYC’s letter and petition defends the use of DAP, which they say has helped “hundreds of thousands of early childhood educators create joyful learning environments” for children. 

I hope that many PIC families will join me in signing the petition as a message of protest and of affirmation of what we know to be true.