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A Call to Action on the Education of Young Children

WE ARE DEEPLY CONCERNED that current trends in early education, fueled bypolitical pressure, are leading to an emphasis on unproven methods of academic instruction and unreliable standardized testing that can undermine learning and damage young children’s healthy development.

Many states are moving toward universal preschool so that all children can benefit from early education. We strongly support these efforts, provided that preschool programs are based on well-established knowledge of how children learn and how to lay a foundation for lifelong learning—not on educational fads.

Preschool education must not follow the same path that has led kindergartens toward intense academic instruction with little or no time for child-initiated learning. If such practices were effective for five-year-olds, we would have seen better long-term results by now. We call for a reversal of the pushing down of the curriculum that has transformed kindergarten into de facto first grade.

Education is not a race where the prize goes to the one who finishes first. To help young children develop literacy and a lifelong love of learning we need to respect and, when needed, to strengthen their individual abilities and drive to learn. Instead, current trends in early education policy and practice heighten pressure and stress in children’s lives, which can contribute to behavioral and learning problems.

Justified concern for low-income children, who often lag academically, has been a powerful force behind the current overemphasis on early instruction in literacy and math. This well intentioned but misguided policy may actually put children at increased risk of school failure by denying them positive early learning experiences.

Creative play that children can control is central to their physical, emotional, and cognitive growth. It contributes greatly to their language development, social skills, and problemsolving capacities, and lays an essential foundation for later academic learning. Yet many children do not have the opportunity to develop their capacity for socio-dramatic play. Preschool is the place to intervene and restore childhood play.

Prepared by the Alliance for Childhood, a partnership of educators, health care professionals, researchers, and other childhood advocates who are working together to improve the health and well-being of all children. This statement has been endorsed by the following individuals (organizations included for identification purposes only):

David Abram, Ph.D., author and President, Alliance for Wild Ethics, Santa Fe, NM
G. Rollie Adams, Ph.D., President and CEO, Strong Museum, the National Museum of
Play, Rochester, NY
Natalie R. Adams, Faculty Chair, Washington Waldorf School, Bethesda, MD
Enola G. Aird, Founder and Director, The Motherhood Project, Institute for American
Values, New York City
Cynthia K. Aldinger, Executive Director, LifeWays North America, Norman, OK
Tina Al-Ghussain, graduate teaching assistant, University of Missouri, St. Louis
Lindsey Allard, early childhood specialist, Silver Spring, MD
Joan Almon, President, Alliance for Childhood, College Park, MD
Patricia Amanna, Ed.D., The Children’s Center at Purchase College, Purchase, NY
Paul Ammon, Professor and Director, Developmental Teacher Education Program,
University of California, Berkeley
Robert Anderson, California Department of Education (retired), Fair Oaks, CA
Jane Andrias, education consultant, New York City
Regina A. Arnold, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and Associate Dean, Sarah Lawrence
College, Bronxville, NY
William L. Bainbridge, Ph.D., Distinguished Research Professor, University of Dayton and President, SchoolMatch Institute, Westerville, OH
Nancy Balaban, Ed.D., Infant and Parent Development and Early Intervention Program,
Bank Street Graduate School of Education, New York City
Ann C. Barbour, Ph.D., Professor of Early Childhood Education, California State
University, Los Angeles
Lyda Beardsley, Ph.D., Executive Director, Trio Foundation, Berkeley, CA
Barbara Beatty, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Education, Wellesley
College, Wellesley, Mass.
Jerry P. Becker, Professor of Mathematics Education, Southern Illinois University,
Marilyn B. Benoit, M.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Georgetown
University Medical School and past president, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Washington, D.C.
Karen D. Benson, Professor, California State University, Sacramento
Robin Berenstain, child and family therapist, Silver Spring, MD
Doris Bergen, Professor of Educational Psychology, Miami University, Oxford, OH
Maureen Berzanski, Hawthorn Elementary South District 73, Vernon Hills, IL
Loretta Borko, mother and former kindergarten teacher, School District of Philadelphia
Sonja Borstner, kindergarten teacher and mentor, The Harvest, The Woodlands, TX
Sally J. Botzler, Ph.D., Professor, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
Scott Braswell, pre-service teacher, University of Washington, Seattle
T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus, Harvard Medical School
Michael Brody, M.D., child psychiatrist, University of Maryland, Potomac, MD
Robin E. Brooks, early childhood arts educator, artist, and mother, Topsham, Maine
Robert Brown, Operations Manager, Extras for Creative Learning, Boston
Stuart L. Brown, M.D., psychiatrist and founder, The Institute for Play, Carmel Valley, CA
Victoria Brown, Ph.D., founder and director, Lucy School, Middletown, MD
Whitney B. Byrd, Pacific Oaks Children’s School, Los Angeles
Lorayne Carbon, Director, Early Childhood Center, Sarah Lawrence College, NY
Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Professor, Lesley University, Cambridge, Mass.
Valerie Bayne Carroll, Master Artist, Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, Washington, D.C.
Virginia Casper, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Bank Street College of Education, New York City
Kathy Charner, Editor-in-Chief, Gryphon House, Inc., Silver Spring, MD
Beverly Clark, Ed.D., Director of Early Childhood Programs, Stockton, CA
Sydney Gurewitz Clemens, author and early childhood consultant, New College of
California, San Francisco
Rhonda Clements, Professor of Education, Manhattanville College and past president,
American Association for the Child’s Right to Play, Purchase, NY
Laina Clugston, Acorn Hill Waldorf School, Silver Spring, MD
Sandy Cmajdalka, Professor of Bilingual Education, University of Houston
Lynn Cohen, Assistant Professor, C. W. Post Campus, Long Island University, Brookville, NY
Richard Cohen, founder and director, School Mediation Associates, Watertown, Mass.
Carol Cole, Executive Director, Sophia Project, Oakland, CA
Debbie Conley, program manager, Devereux Early Childhood Training, Rockledge, FL
Renatta M. Cooper, Commissioner, First 5 Los Angeles
Cathleen Corrie, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of French, Baylor University, Waco, TX
Sage Cowles, Fellow, Hubert Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Ellen F. Crain, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine, Albert Einstein
College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
William Crain, Professor of Psychology, City College of New York
Mary Beth Cunningham, parent educator and Senior Program Coordinator, EPIC (Every Person Influences Children), Buffalo, NY
Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford
University, Stanford, CA
Gloria DeGaetano, founder, the Parent Coaching Institute and author, Parenting Well in a Media Age, Bellevue, WA
LaRaine DelCastillo, Supervisory Education Technician, Fort Leavenworth Child
Development Center, Fort Leavenworth, KS
Dee Dickinson, Chief Learning Officer, New Horizons for Learning, Seattle, WA
Miranda Dockery, pre-kindergarten teacher, La Petite Academy, Kernersville, NC
Libby Doggett, Executive Director, Pre-K Now, Washington, D.C.
O. Fred Donaldson, Ph.D., play specialist, The Sanctuary Alliance, Trumbull, CT
Walter F. Drew, Ed.D., founder, Dr. Drew’s Toys, Melbourne Beach, FL
Jan Drucker, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY
Eleanor Duckworth, Professor of Education, Harvard University
Margaret Egenhoefer, kindergarten teacher, University Lake School, Hartland, WI
Judy Ehrenstein, teacher, Shaare Tefila Nursery School, Silver Spring, MD
Stacy Ehrlich, parent and owner, Seeds for Change Consulting, Austin, TX
Elliot Eisner, Lee Jacks Professor of Education, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
David Elkind, Professor of Child Development, Tufts University, Medford, Mass.
Margot Ely, Professor, New York University, New York City
Claude S. Endfield, Chair, Early Childhood Development Program, Northland Pioneer
College, Holbrook, AZ
Brenda S. Engel, Associate Professor (retired), Lesley University, Cambridge, Mass.
Billie Enz, Professor of Early Childhood Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Bettina Fabos, Professor of Interactive Media Studies and Journalism, Miami University of Ohio, Oxford, OH
Dan Fendel, Professor of Mathematics, San Francisco State University
Carrie Ferguson, first grade teacher, Duval County Schools and owner, Crossing the Bridge Books, Jacksonville, FL
Cordula Feuerstack, movement therapist, Mechanicville, NY
Betsy Flagler, preschool teacher and parenting columnist for United Media, Davidson, NC
M. Jayne Fleener, Ph.D., Professor and Dean, College of Education, Louisiana State
University, Baton Rouge
Carol Foresta, Executive Director, Center for Collaborative Education, New York City
Nancy Foster, early childhood, parent, and teacher educator, Acorn Hill Waldorf
Kindergarten and Nursery, Silver Spring, MD
Lauren Franco, Coordinator, Child Development Institute, Sarah Lawrence College, NY
Margery B. Franklin, Ph.D., Director, Child Development Institute, Sarah Lawrence
College, NY
Ellie Friedland, Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education, Wheelock College,
Laura Friedman, teacher and consultant, Cumberland, Maine
Lizbet Carroll Fuller, Director of Education, Nantucket Lighthouse School, Nantucket,
Annapurna Ganesh, Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education, University of
Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard University
Claire Ryle Garrison, Director, Whole Child Initiative, Mill Valley, CA
Nathalie Gehrke, Professor of Education, University of Washington, Seattle
Eric Gidseg, kindergarten teacher, Traver Road Primary School and co-chair, New York
State Professional Standards and Practices Board for Teaching, Pleasant Valley, NY
Nancy B. Laird Gilson, school counselor, Penn-Bernville Elementary School, Bernville, PA
Dan Goldman, attorney, Education Law Center, Newark, NJ
Daniel Goleman, co-founder, Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, University of Illinois, Chicago
Roberta M. Golinkoff, author and Professor, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder, Jane Goodall Institute and U.N. Messenger of Peace,
Arlington, VA
Elizabeth Goodenough, Lecturer, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
John I. Goodlad, educator, University of Washington and Institute for Educational Inquiry, Seattle, WA
Nicole Gothelf, mother and former teacher, Syosset, NY
Kathy Gray, kindergarten teacher, Portland Public Schools, Portland, Maine
Stanley Greenspan, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, George
Washington University Medical Center, Bethesda, MD
Joan Dye Gussow, Professor Emeritus of Nutrition and Education, Teachers College,
Columbia University, New York City
Susan Gutierrez, resource teacher, Golden Valley Charter School, Citrus Heights, CA
Sarah Hahn-Burke, Psy.D., clinical psychologist, PerDev Perceptual Development Center, New York City
Ellen Hall, owner and executive director, Boulder Journey School, Boulder, CO
Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., child and adult psychiatrist, author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, the Hallowell Center, Sudbury, Mass.
Pamela Archer Hamlin, teacher, Greenbelt Nursery School, Greenbelt, MD
Tobin Hart, Ph.D., President, ChildSpirit Institute and Professor of Psychology, University of West Georgia, Carrollton
Jane M. Healy, Ph.D., educational psychologist, author, and lecturer, Vail, CO
Mary Hebron, Associate Director, Art of Teaching Graduate Program, Sarah Lawrence
College, NY
Ruth Hesley, Assistant Director, King’s Kids Child Development Center, Capitol Heights, MD
Stephen Hidalgo, education consultant, University of Oregon, Eugene
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Professor of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Craig Holdrege, Director, The Nature Institute, Ghent, NY
Susan Howard, Chairperson, Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America,
Amherst, Mass.
Ann Janney-Schultz, early childhood advocate, Roanoke, VA
Olga Jarrett, Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education, Georgia State University, Atlanta
Connie Johnson, facilitator and teacher, Argyll Centre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Jim Johnson, Professor-in-Charge of Early Childhood Education, Pennsylvania State
University, University Park, PA
Muktha Jost, Associate Professor of Education, North Carolina A&T State University,
Greensboro, NC
Lilian G. Katz, Professor Emerita, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Eileen Keane, teacher, Birch Lane Elementary School, Davis, CA
Merrie B. King, Ed.D., Assistant Professor of Education and Montessori Program Director, Belmont University, Nashville, TN
Susan Kingsley, Assistant Professor, Rhode Island College, Providence
Amelia Klein, Associate Professor, Early Childhood Education, Wheelock College, Boston
Susan Brien Klein, threes teacher, Lucy School, Middletown, MD
Tovah P. Klein, Ph.D., Director, Barnard College Center for Toddler Development, New
York City
Edgar Klugman, Professor Emeritus, Wheelock College and co-founder, Playing For Keeps, Boston
Alfie Kohn, author, Belmont, Mass.
Susan Kotansky, pre-K teacher and Adjunct Professor of Early Childhood Education,
Lehman College of New York
Jonathan Kozol, author, Byfield, Mass.
Maris H. Krasnow, Ed.D., Clinical Assistant Professor, Steinhardt School of Education,
New York University, New York City
Vicki Kubler LaBoskey, Ph.D., Professor, Mills College and President, California Council on Teacher Education, Oakland, CA
Regina F. Lagaly, Director, Oklahoma Kids in Environmental Education, Yukon, OK
Patricia Lambert, WECAN Lifeways Program, Davis, CA
Linda Lantieri, Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, New York
Velma LaPoint, Ph.D., Professor of Child Development, School of Education, Howard
University, Washington, D.C.
Mary Larue, Associate Professor, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, Richmond,
Claudia M. Lenart, editor, Family Time magazine, Waukegan, IL
Diane Levin, Professor of Education, Wheelock College, Boston
Mel Levine, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics, University of North Carolina
Medical School, Chapel Hill, NC
Vicki Levy, preschool teacher, Rockville, MD
Claire J. Lieber-Saul, attorney, Manhasset, NY
Susan Linn, Ed.D., Instructor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Yeou-Cheng Ma, M.D., developmental pediatrician, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
Kimberle Madden, parent and librarian, Collingswood, NJ
Jim Marsh, pre-K and extended-day teacher and coordinator, Lincoln Unified School
District, Stockton, CA
David Marshak, Professor of Education, Seattle University
Kathleen McCartney, Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Early Childhood Development and
Acting Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Meredith McKittrick, Associate Professor, Department of History, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Jaimen McMillan, author and lecturer, Schuylerville, NY
Kathryn McNerney, teacher and mother, Falls Church, VA
Judith McVarish, Professor, New York University, New York City
Deborah Meier, senior scholar, New York University and founder, Central Park East
Schools, New York City
Nina Mihaychuk, DMD, endodontist, Silver Spring, MD
Doreen Downs Miller, Parenting Matters LLC, Garden City, NY
Edward Miller, senior researcher, Alliance for Childhood, Wellfleet, Mass.
Marjorie L. Miller, social worker, teacher, and administrator, Child Development Institute, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY
Ron Miller, Ph.D., Education Program Faculty, Goddard College, Plainfield, VT
Susan A. Miller, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus, College of Education, University of
David-Michael Monasch, eurythmist and teacher, Boulder, CO
Glenda E. Monasch, teacher and therapist, Boulder, CO
Lowell Monke, Associate Professor of Education, Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH
Arline Monks, Program Coordinator, Caldwell Early Life Center, Rudolf Steiner College, Fair Oaks, CA
Thomas Moore, author, Care of the Soul, Amherst, NH
Candice Moratti, teacher, Mission Montessori School, Scottsdale, AZ
Gina Moreland, Founder and Executive Director, Habitot Children’s Museum, Berkeley, CA
Kathryn L. Morrison, Ed.D., Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education, University of Texas at Tyler
Karen F. Moses, educator and owner, Best Beginnings Preschool, Rochester, NY
Pedro Noguera, Professor of Teaching and Learning and Director, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, New York University, New York City
Lindi Nubel, Director, Roslyn Trinity Cooperative Day School, Roslyn, NY
Nancy L. O’Connell, early childhood/special needs teacher, Nauset Integrated Preschool, Wellfleet, Mass.
Michael O’Connor, Professor, Department of Counseling and School Psychology, Seattle University
Cathleen M. O’Donnell, executive administrator and parent, Portland, Maine
Susan Ohanian, Senior Fellow, Vermont Society for the Study of Education, Charlotte, VT
Sharna Olfman, Ph.D., clinical and developmental psychologist, Point Park University,
Pittsburgh, PA
Crystal L. Olson, Ed.D., Professor of Arts in Education, California State University,
Todd Oppenheimer, journalist and author, The Flickering Mind, San Francisco, CA
Mary V. Ortega, attorney and public defender, Lake Forest Park, WA
Vivian Gussin Paley, teacher and writer, Chicago
Emanuel Pariser, Co-Director, The Community School, Camden, ME
Katharine M. Pell, Chairman of the Board, Conservatory Lab Charter School, Boston
Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Senior Fellow, ChildTrauma Academy, Houston, TX
Jane P. Perry, Ph.D., Harold E. Jones Child Study Center, University of California,
Barbara Pope, Director, Sonshine Day Care Center, Manchester, CT
Alvin Poussaint, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Judge Baker Children’s Center, Boston
Joanne Pressman, Director, Community Nursery School, Lexington, Mass.
Kyle Pruett, M.D., Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry, Yale University School of
Medicine, New Haven, CT
Margaret B. Puckett, Ed.D., Professor of Education (retired), Texas Wesleyan University, Fort Worth, TX
Elizabeth Quintero, Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education, New York
Patricia G. Ramsey, Professor of Psychology and Education and Director, Gorse Child Care Center, Mt. Holyoke College, S. Hadley, Mass.
Alvin Rosenfeld, M.D., child and adolescent psychiatrist, co-author, The Over-Scheduled Child, New York City
Stephanie Rottmayer, Director, School for Young Children, Columbus, OH
Frances O’Connell Rust, Professor, New York University, New York City
Lori Sammartino, kindergarten teacher, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Pittsburgh, PA
Sandra Santvoord, general and special education teacher, John Melser Charrette School
(P.S. 3), New York City
Paula Sayag, Ph.D., early childhood specialist, Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning, Rockville, MD
Signe Schaefer, Director, Foundation Studies, Sunbridge College, Spring Valley, NY
Barbara Schecter, Professor of Developmental Psychology and Director, Graduate Program in Child Development, Sarah Lawrence College, NY
Peter L. Schneller, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Education, Mount Union College,
Alliance, OH
Juliet Schor, Professor of Sociology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Barbara E. Schwartz, Ph.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Early Childhood Special
Education, New York University, New York City
Susan Silverio, Director, East Coast LifeWays Training and kindergarten teacher, Ashwood Waldorf School, Lincolnville, Maine
Dorothy G. Singer, Senior Research Scientist, Child Study Center, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Jerome L. Singer, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Douglas Sloan, Ph.D., Professor of History and Education (retired), Teachers College,
Columbia University
Tine Sloan, Ph.D., Acting Director, Teacher Education Program, University of California, Santa Barbara
Dorothy Justus Sluss, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Teacher Education and Professional
Services, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA
Elizabeth Smitheal, student, St. Edwards University, Austin, TX
Tami Spidle, home childcare provider, Young Hearts Growing Center, Holualoa, HI
Laurie Stevahn, Assistant Professor of Education, Seattle University
Deborah Stipek, Dean, Stanford University School of Education, Stanford, CA
Doug Stowe, Director, The Wisdom of the Hands, Clear Spring School, Eureka Springs, AR
Lucy Stroock, preschool teacher, Concerned Educators Allied for a Safe Environment
(CEASE), Cambridge, Mass.
Elaine Surbeck, Associate Dean, Teacher Education and Professor of Early Childhood
Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
John Surr, advocate for young children, Concerned Educators Allied for a Safe
Environment (CEASE), Bethesda, MD
Jean Tepperman, Editor, Children’s Advocate/Defensor de los Niños, Oakland, CA
Meg Thomas, Professional Development Coordinator, Minnesota Association for the
Education of Young Children, Minneapolis
Mary Eames Ucci, Educational Director, Wellesley College Child Study Center, Wellesley, Mass.
Eric Utne, founder, Utne Reader, Minneapolis, MN
Rosario Villasana-Ruiz, child development specialist, Children’s Council of San Francisco
Sandra Waite-Stupiansky, Professor of Elementary Education, Edinboro University of
Helen Sunny Wallick, early childhood educator, San Bernardino Valley Community
College, San Bernardino, CA
Mobi Warren, teacher, Inez Foster Elementary School, San Antonio, TX
Elliot Washor, Co-director, The Big Picture Company, Providence, RI
Robert Welker, Professor, Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH
Trina Westerlund, Executive Director, Children’s Institute for Learning Differences,
Mercer Island, WA
Sara Wilford, Director, Art of Teaching Graduate Program, Sarah Lawrence College, NY
Mary Willis, Executive Director, Morris Family Foundation, Kentfield, CA
Frank Wilson, M.D., Clinical Professor of Neurology (retired), Stanford University School of Medicine, Portland, OR
Marie Winn, writer, New York City
George Wood, Director, The Forum for Education and Democracy, Amesville, OH
Catriona Hamilton Wojtas, teacher, Caraway Program, Edmonton Public Schools,
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Arthur Zajonc, Professor of Physics, Amherst College, Amherst, Mass.
Julie Zuckerman, Ed.D., Principal, Central Park East 1 Elementary School, New York City

Updated February 23, 2006

The Alliance for Childhood • Tel/Fax 301-779-1033 •

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