Day 3 Highlights
Reimagining Advocacy Post COVID-19: The Fight to Protect Childhood Continues   
“Teachers can do this. Teachers can do anything. We know that, right? We proved that back in March, when all this first started.” Denisha Jones
Nancy Bailey on What should guide our plans to reopen schools…

“I do not think schools should start up right now. I’m concerned about school infrastructure, and also its connection to COVID-19, online learning, racial inequity and young children. I don’t think the CDC and doctors understand the reality of this country’s school buildings. With all of this, there is good news. For one thing, no one really likes the online school solution. Teachers don’t like it. Parents don’t like it. And kids really don’t like it.“

“I think this virus and this uprising have given us hope for change and new direction, and for perhaps using technology for good and not to replace schools or teachers. There needs to be a push back on the expectation that children learn to read in kindergarten. I think this is also the time to kick common core out of the classroom and replace these harmful standards and assessments with more play. Also, be vigilant and watch school boards at this time. Make sure they invest in remote learning, with teachers, and not online programs. These programs can never ever replace early childhood teachers and the richness of good literacy programs.” 
Cindy Ligon on How Directors can advocate for the childcare staff, families and children…

“We’ve had detailed screening procedures; lower ratios; staff are wearing masks; children 2 1/2 and older are wearing masks, we are working in pods, cleaning toys and doorknobs. But we stood our ground on social distancing. We know that developmentally appropriate childcare, as it pertains to emotional development, is critically important and that includes nurturing and being together.”

“Studies indicate that 40% of childcare programs will not remain open after the end of the year. It’s super expensive to operate with these conditions. So how do we advocate for our needs and financial support? We need to tell our stories. We need to tell our families, our community, talk to our school board. I’m part of a grassroots directors’ group that we started in March where 20-30 of us have been working to figure out how we’ll keep our programs afloat safely. We invited our representatives in to hear our stories. I have also learned to use the power of our parents. We have educated them and they are using their voice and influence.”  
Maureen McGurk on Ensuring the voices of teachers are included in decisions for reopening…

“Agitate, Educate, and Organize. This is how I started to make a difference. Even before COVID-19 hit, we educators knew we needed change. I knew that I had to do more to advocate for developmentally appropriate learning and more play, or I wasn’t going to stay. And I know this is the time. The pandemic is the opportunity. Imaging the strength of hundreds of us organizing around change. This is how we can begin to build a better childhood for children.”

“I started with the parents, teachers, and the superintendent of my children's own school. And never do anything alone! Also, if you’re part of a union, become more involved and push to be involved outside of your own buildings. The DEY Working Groups will be a wonderful way for us to advocate for play and protecting childhood.”
 Peter Rawitsch on What schools should look like when they reopen…

“When schools reopen, we don’t want them to be like they were before. Schools are optional, learning is unstoppable, so we really want to be asking, ‘What do we want learning to look like?’ And for the answers, we need to be looking through the lens of the child.”

“There needs to be a long re-entry period focused on:
  1. rebuilding relationships and rebuilding trust. Meeting their emotional and physical needs, and the needs of their families.
  2. Allowing children respect, and allowing them to have student-directed learning, organized around problems and projects… 
  3. Honoring children’s bodies and brains. All learners need frequent breaks. More and longer recesses with self-directed play, longer lunch and snack-times that include socializing. Self-directed play.
  4. Celebrating childhood. Children learn at their own rate. Learning can’t happen earlier or faster. They don’t need extra reading help, they need time to develop naturally.
  5. Recognizing all of humanity, through an anti-racist and equity lens, letting Black scholars lead the way.” 

Book References:
Dr. Betina Love “ We Want To Do More Than Survive

Gholdy Muhammad ‘ Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework

Dr. Dena Simmons and her new book which is due out soon. (Here is her TED talk: )

Gesell Institute’s books on child development. Peter quoted from " Your Six Year Old
Denisha Jones on How we respond to budget cuts and advocate for increased funding and support…

“We’ve been conditioned to live in the scarcity model - that there’s not enough money, or resources or goodness in the world - but I’m here to tell you that’s not true. We have the money. We lack the will to make sure it is distributed equitably.”

“We need to get to the ‘Agitate’ part. We need to educate that the money is there, and then we need to agitate. And this is where we need people to use the inherent power of their citizenship and their vote. We need to demand—'You will fund public education or we will elect the people who will.’ We need a united front that says, ‘We will not allow anyone who votes to take money away from education to stay in office.’”

“Part of advocacy—of educating and agitating—is learning from other movements. One of the things that I have found inspiring in all of this is the growth of mutual aid societies. This is what we do. This is what we have done from the beginning. Whenever we’ve seen groups who have been marginalized and oppressed, we have also seen people coming forward to support them. We need to learn from those group—their strategies, successes and failures, and bring those to the table now. And that requires collaboration and being open to everyone with a will to partner for what is right. And parents and teachers need to come together and work as a united front. We cannot allow COVID-19 and the ‘opening of schools’ debate to pit parents against teachers. We are partners—we’re in this together.”

Advocacy Organizations:
  • Abolitionist Teaching Network 
  • Alliance for Childhood
  • Badass Teachers Association
  • Black Lives Matter at School
  • Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood
  • Children's Screen Time Action Network
  • Child Development Institute at Sarah Lawrence College
  • Education for Liberation Network
  • Network for Public Education
  • TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment)

 Don’t miss the final session of this year’s Summer Institute! 
To wrap up the week, Denisha will talk about plans to harness the enthusiasm and carry forward the momentum of the Institute. Attendees will prioritize important issues and three DEY Protect Childhood Working Groups will be created to focus advocacy efforts around throughout the year. Everyone is encouraged to join a Group to help get our voices heard and fight for positive changes. 
SESSION 4 PREVIEW - Friday, July 24, 4-6 pm EST 

Play as the Antidote for COVID-19 Trauma and Toxic Stress
As schools prepare to reopen, they must take on the responsibility of helping children respond to trauma and toxic stress. How do we help children recover from the isolation from remote schooling and social distancing? Let them play! We know that play has many benefits for young children including developing resiliency. This panel will discuss how we can utilize play to support children and families to cope with the aftermath of COVID-19
  • Peter Gray, Research Professor at Boston College

  • Kisha Reid, Founder of Play Empowers and Owner Discovery Early Learning Center

  • Kate Woodford, M.Ed., Directress and Lead Teacher at El Mundo de Niños Bilingual Early Learning Center

  • Marcy Guddemi, National Early Childhood Consultant and DEY Board Treasurer 

  • Jesse Coffino, CEO, Anji Education, Inc., and Chair, True Play Foundation

  • Denisha Jones (moderator)

If you have friends or colleagues who weren't able to register, we are livestreaming each panel discussion on Facebook.