Florida Children and Youth Cabinet: Early Learning Workgroup

Co-Chaired by Office of Early Learning Interim Director Rodney MacKinnon, and David Lawrence Jr., Education and Community Leadership Scholar at the University of Miami’s School of Education and Human Development; president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation; and chair of The Children’s Movement of Florida. The Early Learning Work Group is focused on how the early learning years – most particularly from before birth to age 5 when 90 percent of brain growth occurs – can be linked to the forthcoming rigorous standards implementation.

The workgroup is working with four basic themes:

  • Alignment for college and career-understanding that what happens with and for children in the earliest years lead to excellence throughout the school years, and beyond. How do the earliest years ultimately fit with the rigorous standards years?
  • Quality control – that is, the imperative that only real quality leads to excellent outcomes for children.
  • Access for the most disadvantaged children, and children with special needs and disabilities.
  • Parent skill-building and engagement – built from what we’ve long known (that nothing is more important in a child’s future success than a caring and knowledgeable parent). How to involve parents as fully as possible. How to help them have the skills to do the best possible for and by their children.

The central focus of all recommendations will be: What is best for the child?

Issues and questions to be concerned include:

  • What is the meaning of “kindergarten ready”?
  • The importance of pre- and post-assessments in all VPK programs – with all results shared with parents in a fully trusting and collaborative spirit.
  • How can the state provide incentives for high-quality, high-impact early learning (most especially in the most disadvantaged areas)?
  • Might parents of children now in VPK and not really “ready” for the next step at the end of the “school year” be able to put their children in an additional VPK program (summer or “school year”)? (That is not permissible now.)
  • When holding a child back in third grade or whenever, what are workable solutions that would result in the least possible hurt to that child’s psyche, and give him or her the best chance of success? (A subset: Might an elementary school child move to another school, and who would need to pay for transportation?)
  • What can we affect? VPK is obvious. But even more children are involved in School Readiness programs in the three first years when 85 percent of brain growth occurs. What value can we be vis-à-vis the latter? Are there recommendations we can and should make here?
  • The crucial nature of principal leadership in public schools.

July 23, 2013 Meeting Materials
Summary of Discussion from June 4 Meeting

June 4, 2013 Meeting Materials
Summary of Discussion


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