More and more people are discovering what we’ve known all along: that smart investments in educating our youngest children pay off. In this era of limited dollars and economic challenges, early childhood advocates are increasingly making a case that the benefits of early childhood investments don’t take a generation to yield fruit—they pay off right away.
A task force led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein released a report that states American students rank behind their peers in reading, math and science in many other developed and industrialized countries, and that this “educational failure” poses a risk for our future military and economy.
One third-grade student at Chicago’s Armour Elementary summed up our feelings about the exciting collaboration with Target and Chicago Public Schools. “I feel brand new!” he exclaimed after checking out a book from his classroom’s new home-lending library.
When school district officials in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, introduced a new curriculum two years ago, they did their homework—they made sure the model curriculum was aligned to state standards, carefully adapted it for use in all grade levels, and added literacy coaches and other supports. But something was still missing.
Last week our executive director, Kelly Hunter, was a featured speaker during a session at the second Building a Grad Nation Summit in Washington. The Summit, sponsored by America’s Promise Alliance, gathered teachers, school administrators, policymakers, organization and community leaders, and funders to further a commitment to ending the dropout crisis in the United States and preparing young people with the skills they need for success in college and the workforce.
In Nicole Traore’s kindergarten classroom, a student is pointing to a word on a board. After thinking for a moment, her face brightens and she says it aloud: “Thrilled.”
In a recent commentary, WHYY’s Chris Satullo pointed out a fundamental problem we’re all too familiar with in our work—that the schools that should pay teachers the most usually pay the least. Satullo specifically mentioned Philadelphia, Chester and Camden, all places where CLI has invested time and resources to help right an inequity that goes far beyond what teachers are paid.
In an earlier post, Kelly Hunter, our executive director, talked about CLI’s shift from changing the world “one classroom at a time” to fostering sustainable, school-wide change in the schools and districts we work with. For us, the most significant benefit of winning funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) initiative is our ability to help schools transform their culture to support effective literacy instruction.
When you walk into one of our CLI Model Classrooms™, one of the first things you’ll notice is the walls. Chances are they’ll be covered with strips of paper, each displaying a different word. Oftentimes, you’ll even be surprised at the complexity of the words in even the youngest classrooms — words like “fiasco” and “adventuring.”