Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

An emerging consensus on early education

The New America Foundation recently noted an emerging consensus on early childhood education, as evidenced by recent editorials from right- and left-leaning columnists in the New York Times.

Something similar is going on in Washington State, but it isn’t taking place on local editorial pages. It’s actually a quiet, powerful conversation on a person-to-person level.

It all started late last year, when 21 people embarked on a journey, led by the Economic Opportunity Institute and the World Forum Foundation, to determine what sets some of the world’s best early learning systems apart from the rest.

Over a period of nine days, the group (including members of the media, public school leadership, childcare program directors, policymakers and business leaders) investigated early learning best practices in two places: London, England and Helsinki, Finland.

In each city the group met with high-ranking elected officials, national program administrators, respected researchers and advocates, and prominent business leaders. They also visited early learning centers where they spoke with teachers, staff, parents and administrators.

When they came back home, they faced an important question: How can we share what we’ve learned with local policy and opinion leaders here in Washington State?

Here is their answer.

This account of their trip, called A World of Opportunity: Inspirations from Abroad for Early Learning at Home, shares both the practical findings of the study tour and the transformational nature of the group’s experience.

Of course, there were many and varied lessons learned on the journey. But A World of Opportunity focuses on just seven themes that most impressed the group, sparking inspiration, motivation – and most importantly conversations – that continue to this day.

Also check out the study tour’s briefing book, which includes extensive background on general early learning policy in the U.S. (and Washington State), England and Finland.

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