Early Childhood Education: The Word Gap & The Common Core

Given states’ difficulties in implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) thoughtfully, many early childhood educators have begun to worry about what the NAEYC refers to as “a downward pressure of increased academic focus and more narrowed instructional approaches.” But, as the NAEYC’s statement on the CCSS also observed, that “threat also provides an opportunity” for early education to exert more positive, “upward pressure” on the K–12 system.

Could the recent attention to the “30 Million Word Gap,” by Hillary ClintonThe New York Times, the Bloomberg Foundation, and others, including the Shanker Institute, represent one such opportunity? Could a focus on oral language development and a systematic, developmentally-appropriate approach to building background knowledge in the early years be the key to moving the nation closer to the goals of the Common Core?




Susan Neuman, Professor of Early Childhood & Literacy Education, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, & Human Development; former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Elementary & Secondary Education, US DoE. Slides

Joan Almon, Founding Director, U.S. Alliance for Childhood. Slides

Barbara Bowman, Cofounder and Interim President of External Affairs, Erikson Institute; former Chief Early Childhood Education Officer for Chicago Public Schools. Slides

Helen Blank, Director of Childcare and Early Learning, National Women’s Law Center. (Moderator)




Sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute and the American Federation of Teachers, this conversation series is designed to engender lively and informative discussions on important educational issues. We deliberately invite speakers with diverse perspectives, including views other than those of the AFT and the Albert Shanker Institute. What is important is that these participants are committed to genuine engagement with each other.