Working for a just,
equitable, and quality
early childhood education 
for every young child.

A Newsletter for our
Subscribers, Allies, and Friends

November 2019
A Quote We Like
" ... we have no blocks, no dramatic play home area, no manipulatives or puzzles, not even playdough. Testing got in the way . " -- Teacher Quote , from the Teacher's Speak Out Report by Diane Levin, PhD and Judith Van Hoorn, PhD ?

2019 was a busy year for both Defending the Early Years (DEY) and for the early childhood education advocacy movement. The cause has seen:

  • an increase in teachers who are standing against the pushdown of academics and increased testing; 
  • an awakening in parents’ understanding of what is developmentally-appropriate learning and, as a result, they’re demanding more from their schools and school districts;
  • presidential candidates adopting platforms for equitable, appropriate education and universal Pre-K; and 
  • we have begun to see legislation being introduced in more and more states, and parents and teachers standing up and demanding developmentally-appropriate, play-based kindergartens that nurture joy and offer more recess and longer lunchtimes.

At DEY this year, we:
  • officially moved from being a project to its own 501(c)(3);
  • launched our first 3-day Summer Institute; 
  • produced two more mini-documentaries with another to be introduced in December; 
  • overhauled our website ( with a new URL name and site design; and 
  • prioritized educational conferences where we presented as keynotes, participated in panel discussions, and offered workshops. 

We are encouraged by the progress that the ECE activist community has achieved this past year, but are also keenly aware of the setbacks and challenges we face going forward.
 What We Will Be Chatting About In This Issue ...
In the October newsletter, we were focused on Activism --advocating for our youngest students who are caught in a system that is not set up to educate them in the way that they authentically learn. This month, we discuss the progress ECE advocates and DEY have achieved, and what’s on the agenda for 2020
Progress Across the U.S.
Brookline, Massachusetts - both parents and teachers said enough to the gradual removal of play-based kindergartens throughout the district. Some 500 parents and teachers signed letters to the district demanding more recess and more “joy” be returned to kindergarten.

Chicago, Illinois - teachers and the teacher union demanded that naps be included for all preschoolers, regardless of the school district they attend. They won their demand and we applaud them for ensuring that every child is able to rest during the school day.

New Hampshire - the state is considering legislation that will require all kindergartens be play-based. DEY is watching this one carefully.

Colorado - Legislation is being developed at the state level that, again, would return kindergartens to a play-based and developmentally-appropriate structure.

New York - Parents and educators took on the New York board of education and, more specifically, Chancellor Betty Rosa for reneging on her promise to include ECE experts and the overall community on the state’s PK-2 standards.  

What other advancements in ECE are you seeing? Let us know!
DEY Progress.
DEY’s Teachers Speak Out video series ( #TeachersSpeakOu t) is produced with the intention of showcasing expert early childhood teachers and educators in order to educate both parents and teachers on what early learning should look like. The series is also available in Spanish. Our most recent two videos are:
How Play is Learning
How Do Young Children Learn Best?
DEY launched its first Summer Institute to help advocates develop an advocacy platform to implement in their local communities. Whether you’re a seasoned advocate or new to the idea, our Summer Institute is designed to strengthen and expand our movement to ensure that the change we want to see is cohesive and far-reaching. 

DEY’s mini-grants have gone international with grant requests thus far coming from the U.S., Central America and Africa. Children’s opportunities for both unstructured and structured play are disappearing in many countries around the world. These grassroots groups are making a difference with the funds awarded.
December 3rd is #GivingTuesday and Defending the Early Years will be launching its end-of-year giving opportunity. Keep an eye out for our crowdfunding campaign on December 3rd as well as our end-of-year email requests. We have big plans for 2020, and we can’t do it without you.
What will 2020 bring?
DEY is hosting our 2nd annual Summer Institute in July at the Eaton Hotel in Washington, D.C.

We will continue to develop mini-documentaries on a variety of topics important to our ECE work. On December 3rd, we will release our latest on the importance of play-based learning and why it is being threatened, featuring our own Nancy Carlsson-Paige, EdD and Diane Levin, PhD.  

As we come into this important election year, DEY will lend its voice to change at the highest level by developing our ideal early childhood education platform and sharing it with the presidential candidates and others. Stay tuned for it’s launch.

And so much more...
The Annual NAEYC conference is upon us and DEY is making last minute preparations for two workshops and our 7th Annual Organizing Meeting. 

Our Organizing Meeting is this Saturday, November 23 from 9:30am-11:30am at the AC Hotel Nashville Downtown by Marriott: 
Join Denisha Jones, DEY's Director of ECE Organizing, as we plan our Protect Childhood Advocacy Action event for spring 2020. Last year, we shared stories of resistance and brainstormed strategies for resisting policies that threaten childhood. After an electrifying Summer Institute, we are ready to move forward with a national call-to-action to protect childhood. We hope you will join us to help plan this inaugural event and continue working for a just, equitable, and quality early childhood education for every young child.

We will be live streaming on Facebook in case you can't join us in person.
We will be at Network for Public Education (NPE) o n March 28 as part of a panel discussion on re-framing language and the lens used to see the child before you. DEY will also be co-hosting a session on "online preschool" with our friends at CCFC. We look forward to seeing you at both.

DEY’s Summer Institute ( #DEYInstitute2020 ),  July 19-21 at the Eaton Hotel in Washington D.C.
Don’t miss DEY’s Resource page for articles, videos, and research papers from our ECE community.   

Fact Sheet on Testing and Young Children , in partnership with our ally, FairTest. A clear and concise explanation of why testing is harmful; why it’s not needed; and what are good assessment practices when working with young children.

DEY’s Blog page: “ Reflections on the Fight to Protect Childhood: What Have We Done? Where Are We Going? What Are We Up Against? ” Are you a fellow advocate with an interest in writing and having your voice heard, or a parent with an experience in a classroom that you want to share? Contact us at .

Share the newsletter with parents and fellow educators so they, too, can be part of the play revolution . See you next month.

We are social! Join us . . .
Defending the Early Years
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Located in Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Defending the Early Years is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Tax ID: 82-4308558
DEY recently earned a 2019 Gold Seal of Transparency from Guidestar. Check out our profile