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Please Share Your Thoughts
May 4, 2021
Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.
-Anne Frank
Last week, in his address to Congress, this is what President Joe Biden said, related to the early childhood field:

“That is why my American Families Plan guarantees four additional years of public education starting as early as we can. Great universities in this country are conducting studies of the last 10 years and it shows that adding two years of universal, high-quality preschool for every three and four-year-old no matter what background they come from puts them in a position to be able to compete all the way through 12 years. It increases exponentially their prospects of graduating and going on beyond graduation. Research shows when a young child goes to school, not daycare, they are far more likely to graduate from high school. And go to college. Or something after high school.”

We have been hearing from readers who feel many different ways - disturbed about the phrase “school, not daycare,” - happy that the importance of early care and education is being addressed - concerned that some politicians may not understand the complexity of our field...

We would love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts in the comments section. We welcome honest comments that are expressed in respectful ways.

Thank you for taking the time to exchange ideas. We will start with a comment of our own: early care and education matters - in all settings.


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Comments (32)

Displaying All 32 Comments
Monica Moran · May 04, 2021
Husky House, Inc.
Lafayette, CA, United States

It's an older catchphrase but worth repeating - we don't care for DAYS. We care for CHILDREN.

The fact that the POTUS used the language of "daycare" leads me to question whether he is receiving input from child development experts or is his advice primarily coming from the education/school field.

Cheryl Tella · May 04, 2021
The Learning Journey Preschool and Child Care Corp.
Bristol, Rhode Island, United States

I have been in the Field of Early Childhood for 37 years!
I have been teaching in a High School CTE Early Education and Care Lab setting for the past 15 years.
Recently, I finally realized my dream and opened my own Child Care Center (and Covid -19 Struck!)
Now I am hearing our field is getting noticed by the new Government Elect, which I believe could be a wonderful partnership in helping families with young children, as well as, the hard hit private child care community.
These early childhood educators offer amazing programs all over the country to our young children.
I firmly believe for this partnership to become a reality EXPERTS from Early Education and Care need to be driving the conversation with the importance of what Quality Child Care is, and MOST IMPORTANTLY respecting that Early Childhood is a period of time in a child's life, where their work is PLAY!
Child Development cannot be pushed or ignored!
Over the past 37 years I have worked in ",Day Care," "Preschool", "Nursery school" as well as "Child Development centers".
A name must carry out the mission of what young children need.. Quality care that offers age appropriate activities, nurturing caring, educators, grounded in Child Development. All children deserve this!
I know as a Early childhood Educator it would be a very moving experience for me, when we hear our government and others understand and advocate that children .. young children, belong enjoying learning through play as a strong foundation to their educational journey.

Kim Gregorchuk · May 04, 2021
Oak Park Unified School District
Oak Park, California, United States

I am very concerned and worried about this. In California, the state added a two year kindergarten program for those children who turn 5 years old between September 2nd to December 2nd. And, that is exactly what it is, 2 years of a kindergarten curriculum that is done at a slower pace than the typical kindergarten. The program is not developmentally appropriate, there is little time for play, and the teachers have a minimal background in early childhood education/development. I do not think early childhood educators were involved in the decision and design process.
Also, once you have programs in the public schools, outcomes will need to be measured through some type of standardized assessment process. We need to look at what the brain research says about how 0 to 8 years old children learn; exploration, child-centered play, games, active movement, uninterrupted time, etc.

Karen Knudsen · May 04, 2021
North City Presbyterian Church
Poway, CA, United States

I am so very happy at the thought of ALL children ages 3-4 being able to receive quality childcare! The one concern I have is that educators and providers understand and implement developmentally appropriate practice in their Early Childhood environment and curriculum! We MUST remain vigilant in protecting children and providing developmentally appropriate activities, curriculum and expectations!

Jennifer Brooks · May 04, 2021
Verizon Media Child Development Center
Herndon, Virginia, United States

My first reaction was exactly what the article stated at the end - school vs daycare still haunts us as a profession. I am sure that non-educators do not realize what that particular word means to ECE, but it still hurts. However there is a huge difference in the quality of early care and that is where the difference lies. No matter what you call it, high quality care for young children will make a difference throughout their entire lives. Conversely, care of poor quality will also impact them. It means a lot to hear the President of the US make a statement of this kind, but I also wonder how programs like these will be funded? The system as we now know it is so broken, it will take an enormous effort to follow through on these ideas. I am hopeful for the future, but will take his words with a grain of salt.

Michelle Doughty · May 04, 2021
Milwaukee, WI, United States

I am sadden to hear those words regarding the early childhood field. Even amongst the pandemic when the government finally realized how valueable and important we are so that parents can go to work and we are still overcoming the stigma around us.

I take into consideration that President Biden most likely does not realize the languge and termonolgy regarding our field. Those that wrote that statement for him probably do not either. But it still makes me feel like we will NEVER be seen the same as teachers. This will be our cross to bear.

Suzanne M Di Lillo · May 04, 2021
Retired Educator
Lake Havasu City, CA, United States

I am concerned about cost, what the effect will be on private providers (will that become even more a source of resentment and privilege?), and the role of government in every aspect of young children: who can teach, what is the curriculum, what is the role of the parent, will all children be required to attend .... similar to public school attendance. During my 60+ years I was a teacher and later an administrator in both private, non-profit and public (state and federal) programs and found great strengths in the variety available. Each has advantages. As a Head Start administrator, the burden of 'paperwork' on classroom personnel was a continual challenge.

Genie Saffren · May 04, 2021
Retired: UCLA Early Care Education, Fernald Center
Los Angeles, CA, United States

I remember years ago a professor asking our class of graduate students what we called the place young children (under 6 yrs) attended for care and learning.
As we called out, she wrote on the chalk board: nursery school, preschool, childcare center, daycare center, lab school, home care, infant crèche, even nanny and baby sitter. Many of us grumbled that we didn’t care for ‘Days’ or that people who worked in childcare were somehow less than real teachers who taught in schools.

Her point was it didn’t really matter what you called that place as long as the children were well cared for, the parents were respected and the environment was developmentally appropriate and fun. As teachers our jobs were to help children become likable and capable people and critical thinkers. Our school or daycare etc would help parents by giving them a safe, comfortable home-away-from-home so that they could confidently leave their children while they worked, went to school etc.

I remember being one of those students that needed the status of working at a real school not a daycare or nursery but after that professor made us realize that no matter where we worked or named it, we were all doing the same important work.

Linda Glaze · May 04, 2021
First Baptist Weekday Education
Oxford, 30, United States

There is so much difference in High Quality Childcare and daycare programs caring for children offering no curriculum, training, or concern regarding appropriate expectations, learning environment, brain research etc. I hope this will be a move toward greater support and encouragement for High Quality programs for birth to five. The future of young children depends on it!

Erica Price · May 04, 2021
Benton Franklin Head Start -
Richland, WA, United States

Universal early care and education are important to all children regardless of where they attend. My concern is that we need to continue to allow children to be children and learn in the best way possible, through play.

Pearl L. Waxman · May 04, 2021
Retired Early Childhood Professional
Cliffside Park, New Jersey, United States

Yes. In today's NY Times, finally, finally, the need for qualified early childhood staff has been recognized as an important need for quality early childhood education. Previously, that paper seemed more to emphasize the problems of the fees parents must pay to have their young children cared for. All of us need to advocate for caring for the people who care for our young children.

Kathy Jacoby · May 04, 2021
Easterseals Blake Foundation
Tucson, AZ, United States

I am pleased that President Biden recognizes the importance of preschool for 3 & 4 year old children. I am concerned that he specifically pulls out "school" rather than "day care." I have worked hard my entire 40 year career to change others thinking from "day care" to child care and/or preschool. Day care is babysitting, and child care provides developmentally appropriate learning experiences for children, with qualified staff who have early childhood education, and are continuing to learn how to best meet the needs of young children. Families need high quality, affordable child care for children birth - 5 years.

Lynne Pabst · May 04, 2021
Danville, PA, United States

I think we do need to be careful with the words used.
People hear a word and certain images come to mind. If the wrong word is used wrong images are created and faulty practices creep in. The term "school" leads to certain images and faulty practices of a strongly academic curriculum, worksheets, strong teacher direction, and developmentally inappropriate practices for 3- and 4-year-olds.
The term "day care" is wrong as well. "Child care" or "early childhood education" is more appropriate.
While universal preschool may be beneficial, it is only beneficial if conducted in a developmentally appropriate way. We must use the appropriate language surrounding the field and practice so that what is happening and should happen in the preschool is clearly communicated.

Sarah Cady Becker · May 04, 2021
Former Founding Director Williams College Children’s Center (R
Cambridge, NY, United States

I welcome the attention and funding that Joe Biden is giving to early education and care. But it is a false dichotomy to distinguish education from care. Carol Garboden Murray, author of Illuminating Care: The Pedagogy and Practice of Care in Early Childhood Communities writes, "Care is education. Care is not subordinate to education...Education and care are united." Funding needs to be given to all types of early education and care in order to promote the education and professional development of teachers toward the greater practice of quality education and care that is based on principles of care, open-ended play, children’s intellectual capacities and thinking, multiple ways of expressing children’s knowledge, project-based learning, embracing the roles of families, and understanding and fostering diversity. If we go down the path of linking this new initiative only to formalized pre-schools that are more like kindergarten and early elementary education than what I have described, we will in fact damage the great potential that younger children have for learning about, imagining, and contributing to their world.

Krissy Snyder · May 04, 2021
Wildflower Cottage
Durham , North Carolina, United States

I always feel some discord when politicians delve into early childhood education. It is important, and it deserves attention and funding. Yet, would universal preschool demand uniformity and lack of program autonomy? Could programs continue to respond to the needs/desires of their unique communities while "checking all of the standardized boxes?" It is appropriate for parents to be able to select a curriculum/philosophy that supports their family lives/goals. Could Reggio-inspired programs continue to scaffold intellectual development over mandated academic development (or Montessori, or Waldorf, so on and so forth)? It is a complex issue. . .

Victoria Bolton · May 04, 2021
Mobile, Alabama, United States

My hope is that law makers understand the curriculum and best practices for early childhood and that this does not turn into having three and four year old being held to inappropriate goals and standards.

Whirled Peas · May 04, 2021
Altamonte Springs, FL, United States

I think that Mr. Biden was trying to emphasize was the need for trained providers. That's all.

He wasn't arguing against "care" - he was saying that we needed to do better than passing the job off to teenagers, or people without any understanding of early development, who would work for the lowest wage.

He was saying that the task of caring for young children is important and not just "babysitting."

To mix my metaphors - splitting hairs over the terms he used is looking a gift horse in the mouth. He's trying to help - and is willing to allocate billions of dollars to the cause.

I am THRILLED that the early years of life are finally part of the conversation!

Angela Clinton · May 04, 2021
Palma Ceia Academy, Inc.
Tampa, Fl, United States

I agree early care and early education matters for all, however if congress is going to expand the public school system to incorporate all 3's and 4's, where does it leave the small business owners of preschools that have been educating children for YEARS! All early educators need to draft a letter regarding Biden's statement and make it clear that we are here. Look at established preschools, give them the tools to make them even better.

Becki Tetzlaff · May 04, 2021
Here We Grow Preschool and Childcare Center
Saukville, WI, United States

I am pleased that the covid pandemic has opened some peoples eyes as to the importance of childcare for the economic stability of our nation. But, along with that they now are proposing public 3k which will take money away from Early childhood schools.
I've never liked the word daycare but I understand that it is the universal identifyer for infants through 2yrs old care. For our president to use the words "not daycare" is upsetting to say the least. As we all know these early years are critical to the child's development. The wealthy have no idea what it means to run a early childhood school on minimum budgets with teachers who work for low wages. Politicians are so out of touch with reality.
I've been in this field for 30 years, and finally recieving some reconginition and additionsl funds through grants has been encouraging. All the challenges of running a center still exsist, the most challening of course is finding and keeping quality staff. I hope that additional funding will encourage more quality people to choose early childhood as a career.

Amy S. David · May 04, 2021
Kingswood Christian Preschool
Crozet, VA, United States

The phrase "school, not daycare" can be jarring but now is the time to flip the script that "care" is the major component of what we do in early childhood. That is why "Love Language" is used in our classrooms. School and care are not mutually exclusive but inclusive of each other.

My other thought is switching the mindset from "school readiness" to "foundation for learning." I feel we build the scaffold/foundation for their education for the remainder of their lives. This could hopefully help people to pump the brakes when academics are talked about in early childhood.

Olivia Vaughn · May 04, 2021
Primrose School of Brookhaven
Atlanta, GA, United States

I was turned off by Joe Biden's statement. I own and operate an Early Education and Care center for Infants - Kindergarten. We consider ourselves a "school" because we have an imbedded curriculum from Infants all the way through Kindergarten. That being said many people (parents, government officials, staff, etc.) may only see the care aspect of what we provide. When he made his statement, the general public listening to his speech, may incorrectly think that we aren't providing a "school" setting because we don't continue through elementary school. In general I find the term "daycare" derogatory, we do not take care of "days" we take care of children. The President's lack of understanding on this topic only perpetuates and incorrect understanding of what we do on a daily basis.

Melissa Smith · May 04, 2021
Tyro Learning Center
Lexington, NC, United States

First, I think there needs to be more education about brain development and the first 3 years so that our government understands the importance of quality child care programs. We push our staff to continue their education and go to college. We encourage them every day to see themselves as professionals in early education. We need to make our government leaders see this as well.

Second, I'd like to know where exactly the money for universal preschool will be coming from and if it is coming from tax payers, can some of that money go to early childhood programs as well as schools?

Donna Kirkwood · May 04, 2021
Little Rock, AR, United States

I think that most of your readers and particularly those who will respond to this article are probably providing quality preschool experiences. Well-trained providers who understand the development of young children, and work in enriching and engaging environments are crucial for young children. I believe that is who, and what, he was referring to. I think that when we get heated about a word choice (that is commonly used) we miss an opportunity to work with the powers that be and end up creating a divide where one is not necessary. I understand and agree that we care for "children not days" but I also understand that a child care center can provide a high-quality preschool environment no matter what we call it. We need to promote quality and not get hung up on a word. The federal government is talking about the importance of the work we do! Let's celebrate and get on board!

SS · May 04, 2021
United States

I do believe the environment should be set to learn but I feel most preschools FORCE learning cuz have to meet standards (and document so much stuff) rather than letting kiddos learn through PLAY and develop at their own rates.

Renee · May 04, 2021
United States

Early care is important in all settings. It is still a shame that leaders do not understand what really goes on at child care. Children learn through play at quality settings with caring educated adults. That happens at day care at "school" or at home every minute of the day where ever a child is and with whoever they are with. That is why all people need to be aware of how they interact with children and the impact they have on their development.

Sue Lincoln · May 04, 2021
Rutgers-Livingston Day Care Center, Inc.
Piscataway, NJ, United States

I, too, was put off by the President's reference to "school, not daycare." Thank you for reminding me that I want to address it with him personally!

Kathleen Kiblin · May 04, 2021
Child Care Resource Network
Buffalo, New York, United States

It is time that we think of blending the care of children into one. Child Care and school should be universal. It is the only way that we really will fix the infrastructure of this country. Making it so the two years of preschool are in a child care center are funded further so more children are eligible will allow infant and toddler care to become more natural. The centers and schools would work together to become a care and educational system that takes care of children from infancy to adulthood.

MArese · May 04, 2021
WASHINGTON, Washington DC, United States

Thanks for this article; I agree with the phrase "school, not a daycare"it's a bit disturbing. But it is also true that we have to stop referring to our job as a daycare; that terminology has to be redefined by "early educational centers." When people refer to our work as a daycare, we have to start that correct them and tell them that we are educational centers, not a daycare.

Betty Bellino · May 04, 2021
Workforce Dev. Inst
Troy, NY, United States

I was a day care teacher for 5 years and a director for 30 years. Day Care is education !!!!
Early care and education programs can provide better care and education to year children than elementary schools.
Day care center that are usually open 10 hours a day provide consist care which young children need. Many children in UPK have to attend 3 different programs in one day, before care and after school care. Day care centers have the facilities that are designed for young children including bathrooms and out door play areas.
Learning is much than academics.
Day care centers have been "educating young children for many years. Why take the children out of educational programs that are meeting the needs of the entire child and their family ?

Linda Wicklein · May 04, 2021
Baltimore City
Baltimore, MD, United States

As the possibility for funding for universal preschool moves forward, it is critical that high quality early childhood classrooms include learning through play as part of the context. Research shows that having children learn through play is developmentally appropriate practice for this age group. High quality ECE professionals understand this and can deliver this for children in an environment that integrates project based approaches, learning through play and investigation, etc... We must invest in the social emotional component and address the whole child in our preschool settings. Skill driven curriculum that does not address what the research suggests, can set a trajectory for a child that does not result in positive outcomes, rather quite the opposite. High quality early childhood care and preschool is essential.

Linda Wicklein · May 04, 2021
Baltimore City
Baltimore, MD, United States

As the possibility for further funding of universal preschool be available, it is essential that high quality early childhood settings include research based structures, such as learning through play. This element is missing in so many current preschool settings, that we are actually harming young children through a strictly skill driven curriculum. The social emotional aspect and working with the whole child is a critical component. Part of this process is must include families, play and care.

Sarker Javed Iqbal · May 04, 2021
Self employed
Dhaka, Bangladesh

As we all know that preschool creates the foundation for lifelong learning for all children, so, obviously preschool should be made universal for all countries irrespective of richness.

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