Covering Early Learning: Putting the Pieces Together: Agenda
Chicago • November 6–7, 2017

*Preliminary agenda. Subject to change.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Registration and Lunch
12:00 – 12:30 p.m.

Welcome & Ice Breaker
12:30 – 1:00 p.m. 

  • Caroline Hendrie, Education Writers Association


Framing Remarks: Understanding the Puzzle of Early Learning
1:00 – 1:30 p.m.

With a dizzying array of programs, funding streams, and even monikers — pre-K, child care, early learning, etc. — just gaining a basic understanding of the pieces that make up children’s first five years can be a major challenge. Geoffrey Nagle of the Erikson Institute provides an overview of the field and relevant research.

  • Geoffrey Nagle, Erikson Institute

Braiding the Dollars: Financing Early Learning
1:45 – 2:45 p.m.

In many states, the cost of child care rivals the cost of college tuition. Yet many early-learning programs struggle to stay afloat financially, concerns about quality abound, and low wages plague the early childhood workforce. Experts and practitioners discuss these challenges, offer solutions, and suggest story ideas.

  • Steve Barnett, National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER)
  • Phil Acord, Chambliss Center for Children
  • TBD

What to Look for in Early-Learning Settings
3:00 – 3:45 p.m.

Teaching and learning looks a lot different for very young children than it does in the elementary grades. When journalists visit early-learning settings, what should they be looking for? What questions should they ask? What are the hallmarks of quality and the warning signs of ineffective practices?

  • Suzanne Bouffard, author
  • Angela Searcy, Erikson Institute

Lightning Talks & Panelist Circles
4:00 – 5:15 p.m.

In this fast-paced, interactive session, presenters deliver brief talks on a variety of early-learning issues. Afterward, journalists dive deeper into selected topics through small-group discussions with presenters.

  • Home Visiting: What Is It and How Can Journalists Report on It?
    • TBD
  • Where Are Kids Spending Their Days? Exploring the Array of Early-Learning Settings
    • Katie Paschall, Child Trends
  • Parents as the First Teachers: Promising Practices
    • Ron Ferguson, Harvard University
  • Expanding Early Childhood Education While Maintaining Quality
    • TBD
  • Targeting Resources by Measuring Kindergarten Readiness
    • Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Erikson Institute

Reception hosted by Erikson Institute
5:30 p.m.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Site Visits for Early Learning
8:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Journalists visit local sites that provide education and care for young children, including a school-based center providing wraparound services to children and families.

Debrief: Site Visits
10:45 – 11:15 a.m.

Journalists reflect on what they saw during site visits and share ideas for how it can inform and strengthen their early-learning coverage.

Inside the Beltway: A Federal Policy Update
11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Nearly a year into the Trump administration, what changes are afoot in federal policy and funding for early care and education? Will Head Start and other major programs see cuts? Will a rewrite of the tax code deliver beefed up child-care support? Who are the key players? What federal policies and programs should be on reporters’ radar?

  • Lindsey Burke, The Heritage Foundation
  • Elaine Maag, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center
  • TBD

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

A Conversation With Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner
12:45 – 1:15 p.m.

Diana Rauner, the first lady of Illinois and the president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund, an advocacy group for early learning, discusses how public policy is changing in Illinois and nationally to better support children’s first five years.

  • Michael Alison Chandler, The Washington Post

Understanding & Improving the Child Care Workforce
1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Rich, engaging interactions between adults and children are a key element of high-quality, early-learning programs. Yet those responsible for caring for and educating the youngest learners are among the lowest paid and, often, are required to meet only minimal qualifications. Experts and a child-care provider discuss the complex state of the child-care workforce.

  • Patricia Twymon, We Are The World Daycare
  • Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro, Latino Policy Forum
  • Marcy Whitebook, University of California, Berkeley
  • Priska Nelly, Southern California Public Radio (moderator)

Workshop: How I Did the Story
2:45 – 3:30 p.m.

Reporters describe their experiences covering issues around early childhood education and suggest ideas and data resources for future coverage.

  • Sarah Butrymowicz, The Hechinger Report
  • Jackie Mader, The Hechinger Report

Brainstorming Session: Covering Early Childhood Education
3:30 – 4:15 p.m.

You’ve heard from experts and fellow journalists and seen, firsthand, what high-quality early learning looks like. Now what? What story ideas do you plan to pursue? What is still unclear? Reporters huddle together and share ideas to take back to their newsrooms.