Many superintendents in the United States value early learning programs. In fact, according to a 2017 Gallup poll, 80% of U.S. superintendents who responded said their state doesn’t spend enough money on early childhood education and care programs.
That’s why the School Superintendents Association (AASA) created the professional Early Learning cohort, which brings together superintendents from the United States to review emerging research, discover early learning best practices and plan and facilitate change.
This program recognizes the importance of leadership in the early childhood workforce field, as well as the fact that leaders don’t have degrees in the field and may not be familiar with research and practices in early childhood development. While there has been an uptick in the number of professional development programs helping principals learn how instruction might differ in between early years classrooms and others, there has not been much effort to target superintendents. Yet, it is district chiefs that are likely to initiate partnerships with community leaders to develop plans for addressing gaps in services for young children. How they present early learning initiatives to school board members, other district officials and educators throughout their districts can influence how these efforts are received.
Recently, the cohort has released several case studies on the work in their districts. Each of the three case studies include recommendations, links to documents, research they found helpful and outcomes for their work. These case studies discuss the superintendents’ role in early childhood, the responsibilities of other key district officials and some of the decisions that had to be made in the work toward improvements in the early childhood system. They also address areas of importance to the workforce such as mentoring, professional development and professionalization.
You can read more on the program, and find the case studies, here.