Advocacy & Communication Solutions (ACS) Vice President Rebecca Cohen helped design and facilitate the National Association for School Boards of Education (NASBE) inaugural Early Childhood Education (ECE) Workgroup meeting for state school board members. Twelve state board of education members from 11 states traveled to Alexandria, Virginia for an intensive two-day peer learning session on May 1-2, 2019.
During the meeting, work group participants explored evidence-based research, ECE best practices, and ways to better align the early childhood and K-12 systems in their states. A highlight of the meeting was a site visit to the Drew Model Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia, where the work group observed high-quality preschool classrooms for 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds, and engaged school leaders and teachers in a discussion about how to ensure public schools are offering a high-quality ECE program.
Participants also heard from national experts about the components of high-quality programming, including the latest research around equity, high-quality preschool programs across states, the well-being of the ECE workforce, and new research around infant and toddler programs. ACS presented information about public opinion research and the importance of understanding audience perspectives before undergoing any communication or advocacy effort.
“The connection between the first five years of a child’s life and K-12 education is not always clear for district and state leadership,” said Kenneth Mason, state board member from Georgia and work group co-chair. “As school board members, we have a responsibility to promote practices and policies that support young children in preparing them for later school success. This workgroup gives me the knowledge and tools to take concrete next steps in my state.”
The intersection between K-12, ECE, and workforce development is an ongoing area of focus for ACS and several of our clients. ACS has worked with NASBE since 2017 to help states elevate policies that bolster the ECE workforce and better align with K-12 to prepare children for school and beyond.