Covering Early Learning: Putting the Pieces Together

Overview

Covering Early Learning: Putting the Pieces Together
Chicago • Erikson Institute • November 6-7, 2017

From the moment a child is born, the learning begins. By the time kindergarten arrives, gaps have set in that can last a lifetime.

In states red and blue, policymakers and advocates are increasingly looking to children’s earliest years to address the achievement gaps that have long plagued the U.S. education system. But as investment and enrollment in early childhood programs grow, access, quality, and cost all present problems.

For education reporters, a huge challenge is making sense of this complex, patchwork “system.” There are the dizzying array of public and private providers — from home-based care for infants and toddlers to pre-K programs — not to mention countless initiatives, regulations, and public funding streams.

From the moment a child is born, the learning begins. By the time kindergarten arrives, gaps have set in that can last a lifetime.

In states red and blue, policymakers and advocates are increasingly looking to children’s earliest years to address the achievement gaps that have long plagued the U.S. education system. But as investment and enrollment in early childhood programs grow, access, quality, and cost all present problems.

For education reporters, a huge challenge is making sense of this complex, patchwork “system.” There are the dizzying array of public and private providers — from home-based care for infants and toddlers to pre-K programs — not to mention countless initiatives, regulations, and public funding streams.

How can reporters most effectively cover the education of children from infancy to kindergarten? What stories most need telling? On November 6-7, the Education Writers Association will convene journalists and early learning experts for a journalist-only intensive seminar at the Erikson Institute in Chicago. (View the agenda.)

With journalist-led, data-driven workshops, panel discussions, and site visits, the gathering will examine the most pressing issues in early childhood care and education today, including;

  • What does the latest research on brain development and early learning show?
  • What do high-quality early-learning settings look like, and why are they so costly to provide?
  • Why and how are states and localities seeking to transform the workforce that cares for — and helps educate — infants and young children?
  • With tax reform and federal budget cuts looming, what might be the impacts on local early learning efforts?

Threaded throughout the sessions will be practical tips for covering the topic and opportunities for reporters to connect with and learn from one another. Journalists will come away with new ideas, sources, insights, and knowledge to inform their coverage of this complex and growing field.

This event is open to Journalist members only. EWA offers scholarships to eligible members that can cover transportation, lodging, and registration.

Apply for a Journalist Scholarship

Register for the Event

Agenda

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How Should the Government Support Families?
Experts debate federal policies that support early care and learning

Government agencies give lip service to the importance of high-quality child care and early learning programs, but the patchwork system of tax breaks and government grants has too many gaps, causing many families to struggle with bills. And many communities have too few options for high-quality early learning opportunities. That was the consensus of a panel of experts who spoke at the Education Writers Association’s early childhood conference Nov. 6 and 7.

They debated however, the causes of and potential fixes to the problems – ranging from taxes to grants to privatization.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

An “Ounce” of Early Education Pays Off
First Lady of Illinois Says Funding Should Be Made More Sustainable

Diana Rauner advocates for early childhood care and education today because of ex-offenders.

The now-first lady of Illinois was working on Wall Street years ago when she began volunteering at a local settlement house, teaching ex-offenders how to read. She remembers being astonished that somebody her age could not know how to read.

“That really was when I decided to start thinking about educational inequities,” Rauner said at a recent Education Writers Association conference on early learning at the Erikson Institute held in Chicago Nov. 6 and 7, 2017.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Reporters Should Look for in Early Learning Settings
Lectures don't work well for young children. Look instead for child-directed fun.

In some classrooms she visited, children counted numbers as they did jumping jacks, author Suzanne Bouffard said. In others, teachers lectured as children sat quietly, nearly whispering answers to questions as if scared to say the wrong thing — something you never want to see a 4-year-old do.

The stark differences among these preschool classrooms illustrate what years of research have documented, Bouffard said.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Tight Budgets Force Hard Choices Among Child Care Providers
Funding constraints, high cost of quality leave early learning programs feeling squeezed

“An impossible equation.” That’s how Phil Acord describes the challenge of keeping afloat a high-quality early learning program that serves children from low-income families.

As the president of the Chambliss Center for Children, a nonprofit organization that provides around-the-clock care and education to young children in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Acord knows well how difficult it can be for child care providers to simply keep their doors open each month.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

EWA’s Early Education Seminar in 14 Tweets

About 45 education reporters gathered in Chicago this week for EWA’s two-day seminar on covering early learning. They got a primer on early education research and the complex web of funding sources for zero-to-five education and care. Reporters visited highly recognized early learning centers in the Windy City and got tips on what to look for during visits.

Agenda

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

Monday, November 6, 2017

Erikson Institute, Polk Bros. Lecture Hall, Room 201

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.