February 2020 Update
DEY works for a just,
equitable, and quality
early childhood education 
for every young child.
Nancy Carlsson-Paige
and Her Work in Guatemala
I have been visiting Guatemala for fifteen years, ever since my step daughter came here to work as an educational leader for a Mayan women’s weaving project. 

Guatemala is a beautiful and peaceful country, a true contradiction to the reports we see in the U.S. media. Yet there are many struggles here: widespread poverty, drought brought on by climate change, and malnutrition. And yes, there is violence in parts of Guatemala City, but in the countryside, peace and cooperation define indigenous life.

There are various nonprofits here that attempt to soften the hardships. I have been connected to one of these groups, Forjanda Mi Manana ( Forging My Tomorrow ) that works with indigenous communities in nutrition and education. Last year, when visiting one of the rural communities of this project, I saw that there was a complete absence of educational materials in the math program. With the permission of the local program directors, I brought a suitcase full of math materials this year to offer to teachers and kids. I ran a math workshop for 20 indigenous teachers (In Spanish—I am not fluent!) who will use the materials in their classrooms in four separate rural communities. Right now they will have to share the materials, but I hope to bring enough next year for all four communities to have materials in each program.

The teachers were incredibly receptive to my hands-on, play-based approach to math learning, even though it was a departure from the more drill-based approach widely used in Central America. I brought with me Unifix Cubes , two-colored counting chips , and Base 10 Blocks , and planned lots of hands-on activities to accompany some words about how kids learn. We put the materials in a central location where teachers can borrow and return them weekly. 

The director of the program told me that these 20 teachers will be working with a wide span of children from the four rural communities whose learning will be strengthened through this deeper approach to math learning. I feel really good about being able to give back to a country I love that has given me so much over the years.
DEY's Blog
Taking the Right to Play to the
Illinois General Assembly
D enisha Jones writes:

"As the Director of Early Childhood Organizing for Defending the Early Years, my goal is to support others who are doing this work by sharing their stories. Cassie Creswell, the director and president of Illinois Families for Public Schools, wrote this blog. She has been organizing and advocating for public schools in Chicago and beyond for the last decade. Here she explains why her organization is proposing a Right to Play bill to the Illinois General Assembly.

Click here to get DEY's blog sent directly to your inbox.
The issue of Online "Preschool" continues and is expanding into more school districts, which DEY believes is wrong and misguided.
DEY Mini Grant Report

"Flip This Playground" in Arizona
Valley of the Sun Chapter of the Arizona AEYC received a mini-grant from Defending the Early Years for its "Flip This Playground Project." The purpose of the project is to transform hardscape playgrounds into outdoor classrooms, including outdoor libraries, unique gardens, and music centers.

Early Childhood Conferences
Denisha Jones, DEY's Director of Early Childhood Organizing, will speak at the SECA Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Feb. 27-29.

For more information and to register for this conference, click here.

Early Bird Registration is $75/person until March 19th.

Hotel Rooms $185/night.
DEY's room code is SUG19A
( *note, the rooms at this rate are limited so book soon)
DEY's Allies
Screens in School Action Kit
Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, a long-time ally of DEY, has just released a groundbreaking resource, Screens in School Action Kit . Created "by teachers and parents for teachers and parents" to address the widespread overuse of edtech in the classrooms. This kit walks you through the process of advocating for reduced classroom screen time. We encourage parents and teachers alike to read this report because every child has a right to an education shaped by teachers, not devices and edtech companies. C lick here for more information.
Board of Directors
Nancy Carlsson-Paige
Founder and Senior Advisor

Diane Levin
Founder and Senior Advisor

Marcy Guddemi
DEY Treasurer

Blakely Bundy
Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin 

Director of Early Childhood Organizing
Denisha Jones
National Advisory Board
Erika Christakis
Sherry Cleary
Bill Crain
Stephanie Feeney
Doris Pronin Fromberg 
Ayla Gavins
Michelle Gunderson
Ed Klugman 
Deborah Meier
Ruth Rodriguez-Fay
James St. Clair
Judith Van Hoorn

Founding National Advisory Board 
Constance Kamii
Lilian Katz
Maurice Sykes
Defending the Early Years, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
Donations are tax deductible. Our Tax ID: 82-4308558

Defending the Early Years