In July, Groundwork Ohio released the Ohio Early Childhood Race and Rural Equity Report—an in-depth compilation of metrics that show how race, geography, and family impact affect kids’ access to early education programs and their long-term education, social, and health outcomes. When faced with the extensive data in the report, we are forced to confront the stark reality that children of color and those living start kindergarten already behind their peers, and typically stay behind. Recognizing this reality allows us to engage in meaningful conversations throughout the state about how we can begin to address these inequities on the state level, in local communities, and in individual programs. A recent case study published by AASA, the School Superintendents Association, shows one small way that an early childhood program in Ann Arbor, MI is taking steps to ensure all kids have the opportunity to succeed:
According to Ann Arbor staff, the biggest surprise came with the equity work. When the goal was set to expand Young Fives options, one of the goals this district was hoping for was closing the achievement gap. What district leadership wanted to see was that under-resourced students, students in poverty, and students of color were essentially getting a “leg up” and that families who were not able to access the same resources than parents of wealth could gain access those resources. That was one intended outcome they hoped to achieve. What resulted was in the first and second years of the expansion of Young Fives, families that were taking advantage of enrolling in Young Fives were NOT the district’s families of color and that caused the district to pause and look at:
- How the district was marketing the programs to attract targeted students;
- How district staff was talking to families about this programs;
- How focus groups with the families were responding to the availability of the programs.
Staff found it fascinating to talk to families of color to find out why they chose not to enroll their child. Through this outreach, staff learned that using terminology like “give your child the gift of time” and using terms like “readiness” made some families feel their children being labeled. They tended to see those things as being remedial. As a result, the district has altered some of the materials distributed and personal contacts with families to address this issue.
Read the full case study here. Achieving equity for Ohio kids requires all of us to begin to take responsibility for the things we can change by challenging our assumptions, investigating the evidence and recognizing what we don’t yet know. We look forward to further conversations throughout the state that help us challenge our own assumptions and make real progress toward achieving equity for all Ohio kids. Learn more about the Ohio Early Childhood Race & Rural Equity Report.
Early Childhood Education is
NO SMALL MATTER
No Small Matter is a feature-length documentary film and national engagement campaign that brings public attention to this vital question by sharing powerful stories and stunning truths about the human capacity for early intelligence and the potential for quality early care and education to benefit America’s social and economic future. This multifaceted project reveals how our country is raising its youngest citizens, why making the most of this time in their lives is so crucial, and most importantly, what we can do to change the perception of when learning begins. The next Ohio screening will take place in Dayton, Ohio on October 18th, followed by screenings in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and more! Keep an eye out for more details to come. Want to screen No Small Matter at a theater near you? Sign up to bring the film to your community!
Addressing Childhood Hunger in Ohio
No child can learn and grow on an empty stomach. But, more than half a million children in Ohio – 1 out of every 5 – live in "food-insecure" households. Poor nutrition at an early age is linked to lasting health problems, learning challenges, delayed cognitive development, and an increased risk of obesity. On Wednesday, the Columbus Metropolitan Club welcomed Judy Mobley, President & CEO of Children’s Hunger Alliance, Joy Bivens, Director of Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services,Devray Kirkland, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Cardinal Health, Dr. Eric Karolak, Chief Executive Officer of Action for Children, and host Shannon Jones, Executive Director of Groundwork Ohio, to discuss the pressing need for food security, especially for our youngest learners, and what is being done to address this issue. Check out the Children's Hunger Alliance impact report to learn more: The State of Childhood Hunger: Creating a Full Future for Ohio’s Children