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ERIC Number: ED544699
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Nov
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
A Quiet Crisis: The Urgent Need to Build Early Childhood Systems and Quality Programs for Children Birth to Age Five. A Policy Statement of the Council of Chief State School Officers
Council of Chief State School Officers
A quiet crisis is threatening the future of America. Deeply rooted achievement gaps and shortfalls, and a lack of high-quality early learning opportunities compromise the potential of too many children. America vows to be the country of hope and opportunity for all, but it fails to fulfill this promise to our youngest citizens. We celebrate their birth, but then wait to see if they succeed in school before we pay attention to their strengths and needs. Unlike many other countries, we fail to make the most of the opportunities to foster children's lifelong motivation and engagement in learning through exploration, discovery, and discussion in the early learning years. Research and practice confirm that we are at a point of crisis--and opportunity. New studies tell us that achievement disparities between disadvantaged children and their peers can be documented as early as nine months of age. Research also tells us how to design high-quality early childhood programs to enable all children to build a solid foundation for school success and lifelong learning. For years we have known that kindergarten is too late to begin efforts to equalize education opportunity. Now the evidence is indisputable: we can save money, reduce school failure, and enhance children's lifelong success and productivity by improving learning opportunities for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Chiefs know that building a 21st-century learning system begins with a strong foundation of early childhood programs for all children. Equally important is the need to provide earlier, more sustained, intensive, enriched, and carefully sequenced early learning experiences to children who are most at risk, to overcome the odds that are stacked against them. Chiefs are invigorated by the recent efforts to expand investment in the early years. They embrace the opportunity to be part of the solution by adopting an agenda that focuses on: (1) Building coherent, integrated state early childhood systems instead of a collection of categorical programs; (2) Defining policies and advocating for funding to provide the highest of quality in all early childhood classrooms and settings; (3) Aligning the early childhood system with K-3 schooling and beyond; and (4) Crafting a new state-federal fiscal and policy partnership to advance high-quality early childhood learning opportunities for all children, with a concentration on those most at risk. If we are to be serious about eliminating our domestic and international achievement gaps, it is imperative that we expand our education reform agenda to enrich and uplift the learning potential of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Failure to do so will compromise the lifetime potential of millions of children each year--an injustice that we can no longer tolerate.
Council of Chief State School Officers. One Massachusetts Avenue NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20001. Tel: 202-336-7016; Fax: 202-408-8072; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Preschool Education; Early Childhood Education; Kindergarten
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Birth to Five Policy Alliance; Boeing Company
Authoring Institution: Council of Chief State School Officers