July 2019 Update
DEY works for a just,
equitable, and quality
early childhood education 
for every young child.
DEY's First Early Childhood Summer Organizing Leadership Institute -
A Huge Success!
From Sunday, July 7 through Tuesday, July 10, DEY held its first Summer Organizing Institute in Washington, DC.

Below are reflections on the Institute,
written by DEY's Director of Early Childhood Organizing, Dr. Denisha Jones.
Play, Practices, and Policies:
Reflections from DEY’s First Leadership Institute 
by Denisha Jones, Ph.D., J.D.
As the Director of ECE Organizing for Defending the Early Years, I developed a plan that would support our work in protecting childhood. My first thought was to bring together a small group of early childhood resisters, play-defenders, and advocates for high-quality early childhood for all children, to spend a few days networking, strategizing, and developing action plans. After several months of planning, last week, we held our inaugural organizing leadership institute at the Eaton DC. Located in the heart of downtown, “Eaton Workshop is a purpose-driven company at the intersection of culture, media, hospitality, wellness, and progressive social change.” And it was the perfect venue for our institute because as one of our speakers put it, “Staying here feels like self-care!’           
Participants in the 2019 DEY Summer Organizing Institute came from all over the country.
As we kicked off the institute, the initial goal was to get to know each other and identify the issues and threats that challenge the profession and our ability to meet the needs of all children. Given that we were a diverse group of female ECE professionals, it was important that we took the time to get to know each other to build relationships that will continue when we returned to our homes. After reviewing how GERM has caused a global crisis in ECE, we identified specifically how the crisis manifests in our schools and communities. It was clear that the education reform movement had a deleterious impact on children, their families, and the work of ECE professionals. As we continued to think of the policies and practices that we would need to make protecting childhood a reality, we could refer to our list of threats and issues to better understand how these things are interrelated.
Day 2 focused on an amazing line-up of guest speakers. As I planned this event, it was important to me that we began with a discussion on the need to center racial and social justice in our work. As an education activist for the past eight years, I knew that organizations that failed to address racial and social justice when pushing back against corporate education reform almost certainly paid the price down the road. As DEY is committed to “working for a just, equitable, and quality early childhood education for every young child” we invited Zakiya Sankara- Jabar Co-Founder Racial Justice NOW! and National Field Director of Dignity in Schools Campaign to lead this important discussion. Zakiya’s experience when her son was four with a preschool teacher who lacked the culturally responsive tools needed to meet his needs, resonated with many of the teachers. Some had previously read her story in the book Lift Us Up, Don't Push Us Out!: Voices from the Front Lines of the Educational Justice Movement and were delighted to hear her speak. DEY will continue to work with Zakiya to address how early childhood teacher can break the cradle-to-prison pipeline that leads to punitive discipline experiences in preschool for Black and Brown children.

Protecting childhood means fighting for the right to play for all children. Kisha Reid, Owner/Director/Educator Discovery Early Learning Center, spoke to the participants about the need to get loud about play so the right people hear us. As a play advocate and provider of a place for childhood that allows children the time and space to engage in real true play, Kisha shared how crucial free play is to meet the needs of each child. She asked participants to identify the words we use to define high-quality and play so that we can be sure we are on the same page when advocating for true free play.

Later, Susan Ochshorn, Founder of ECE PolicyWorks, led an engaged discussion on the moral imperative for early childhood professionals to work together to create the programs they know are not only best for children but benefit our democratic society. Day 2 ended with a focus on the tactical strategies of how to build an advocacy platform. Using materials and resources from The Building Community Resilience Collaborative, we spent time translating our goals into actions. 
Zakiya Sankara-Jabar
Kisha Reid
Susan Ochshorn and Denisha Jones
On the last day, we continued to work on our advocacy platform and heard from Emily Gasoi, DC State Board of Education Ward 1 and Dr. Robert Gundling President of the DC Association for the Education of Young Children. Emily’s experience running for office (and winning) and Robert’s experience advocating for children on a variety of levels, provided the participants with an opportunity to hear specific do’s and don’ts as they prepare to take what they learned back home.

At the end of our time together, it was clear that we all wanted to continue this important work. To that end, we will create a group on social media where we can stay connected and share the resources on the DEY Discussion Forum. And we are already gearing up to offer another institute July 19-21, 2020 in Washington DC! We hope you will consider joining us as we continue working together to defend our profession, support our families, and protect childhood!  
Next year's
DEY Summer Institute
will be held
July 19-21, 2020
DEY Salutes Brookline, MA Teachers for Standing Up for Developmentally Appropriate Kindergarten
More than two dozen kindergarten teachers in the Boston suburb of Brookline, MA recently signed a five-page letter imploring school officials to bring more joy and play back into the district's kindergartens. They can be seen reading their letter to the School Committee in a video here . Recent educational trends have resulted in more academic kindergartens, both in Massachusetts and across the country. Children struggle with demands to read before they are developmentally ready, causing stress and anxiety. Brookline teachers say that children are learning to hate school. They site numerous children who announce, "I hate reading," "I'm not good at anything," and "I hate school."
In support of the kindergarten teachers, parents launched an online petition which resulted in more than 500 signatures. The issue has been the subject of School Committee meetings, where teachers wore stickers on their shirts with such statements as “Let Kids Feel Success Not Stress” and “Playing IS Learning.”

Defending the Early Years applauds the efforts of these teachers, who are bringing attention to the issue of inappropriate kindergarten curriculum, which is occurring not just in Massachusetts but across the country.
A Memorial Tribute to Joan Almon
DEY is saddened to report the recent death of our longtime friend and colleague, Joan Almon. Joan passed away on July 14, 2019 from complications of breast cancer.
DEY and Joan have a long history of collaboration. In 2014, Joan, along with DEY founder and senior advisor Nancy Carlsson-Paige and DEY Director Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin wrote Reading Instruction in Kindergartern: Little to Gain and Much to Lose . In 2015, Joan presented at the NAEYC Conference along with DEY founder and senior advisor Diane Levin, DEY Director Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, and DEY National Advisory Board Members Lilian Katz and Constance Kamii.
Workshop at the 2015 NAEYC Conference including Diane Levin, Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, Constance Kamii, Lilian Katz, and Joan Almon
Joan also participated in DEYs Strategic Planning meeting in 2017 and has always been available to DEY for sage advice and counsel. We extend our deepest condolences to Joan's husband, Clopper, and to her family and friends.

Defending the Early Years, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
Donations are tax deductible.
Board of Directors
Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Founder, Senior Advisor, and President of the Board

Diane Levin, Founder, Senior Advisor, and Secretary of the Board

Marcy Guddemi, Treasurer of the Board
Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin 

Blakely Bundy

Director of Early Childhood Organizing
Denisha Jones

Director of Communications and Social Media

National Advisory Board
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 | www.dey.org