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Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education:

All children have the right to equitable learning opportunities that will help them to achieve their full potential as engaged learners and valued members of society. Thus, all early childhood educators have a professional obligation to advance equity. They can do this best when they are effectively supported by the early learning settings in which they work and when they and their wider communities embrace diversity and full inclusion as strengths, uphold fundamental principles of fairness and justice, and work to eliminate structural inequities that limit equitable learning opportunities.

Advancing the right to equitable learning opportunities requires recognizing and dismantling the systems of bias that accord privilege to some and are unjust to others. Advancing the full inclusion of all individuals across all social identities will take sustained efforts far beyond those of early childhood educators alone. Early childhood educators, however, have a unique opportunity and obligation to advance equity. 

With the support of the early education system as a whole, they can create early learning environments that equitably distribute learning opportunities by helping all children experience responsive interactions that nurture their full range of social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and linguistic abilities; that reflect and model fundamental principles of fairness and justice; and that help them accomplish the goals of anti-bias education. Each child will:

  • Demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities; express comfort and joy with human diversity, use accurate language for human differences, and form deep, caring human connections across diverse backgrounds.
  • Increasingly recognize and have language to describe unfairness (injustice) and understand that unfairness hurts.
  • Have the will and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discriminatory actions. Early childhood education settings—including centers, family childcare homes, and schools—are often among children’s first communities beyond their families. These settings offer important context for children’s learning. 

They should be environments in which children learn that they are valued by others, learn how to treat others with fairness and respect, and learn how to embrace human differences rather than ignore or fear them.

Under the Hamilton administration we promise to use an equity lens to consider policy impacts on all children and on the bonds between them and their families. Work to change any policy that either directly or through unintended negative consequences undermines children’s physical and emotional well-being or weakens the bonds between children and their families.

  1. Increase financing for high-quality early learning services. Ensure that there are sufficient resources to make high-quality early childhood education universally accessible. Every setting should have the resources it requires to meet the needs of its children and families. This includes ensuring equitable access to high-quality higher education and compensation for a qualified workforce. 

  2. Revise early learning standards to ensure that they reflect the culturally diverse settings in which educators practice. Provide ongoing, in-depth staff development on how to use standards in diverse classrooms. Quality rating and improvement systems should further the principles of equity across all aspects of education, including curriculum, instruction, full inclusion, family engagement, program design, and delivery.

  3. Make sure policies promote the use of authentic assessments that are developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate for the children being assessed and use valid and reliable tools designed for a purpose consistent with the intent of the assessment. Assessments should be tied to children’s daily activities, supported by professional development, and inclusive of families; they should be purposefully used to make sound decisions about teaching and learning, to identify significant concerns that may require focused intervention for individual children, and to help programs improve their educational and developmental interventions.

  4. Increase opportunities for families to choose early childhood programs that serve diverse populations of children. Incentivize these choices and seek to provide supports such as transportation. These supports will help to reduce the segregation of programs (primarily by race, language, ability, and class), which reflects segregated housing patterns and fuels persistent discrimination and inequities.

  5. Include community-based programs and family childcare homes in DC funding systems for early childhood education. Ensure that these systems equitably support community-based programs and engage community members and families in activism, and leadership roles. Support the educators who work in community-based programs so that they can meet high-quality standards while allowing families to choose the best setting for their needs.

  6. Ensure sufficient funding for, access to, and supports for children, teachers, and administrators to respond to children’s behaviors that others find challenging. Mental health supports and prevention-oriented interventions can help meet each child’s needs, including mental health challenges, without stigmatization, and eliminate the use of suspensions and expulsions across all early childhood settings.

  7. Establish comparable compensation (including benefits) across settings for early childhood educators with comparable qualifications, experience, and responsibilities. Focusing only on comparable compensation for those working in pre-K settings will deepen disparities felt by educators working with infants and toddlers, who are disproportionately women of color. Including educators working with infants and toddlers in compensation policies is a fundamental matter of equity.

  8. Incorporate the science of toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) into DC state policies and programs. Trauma-informed care and healing-centered approaches can support resilience and help mitigate the effects of toxic stress and ACEs, which affect children of all social groups but disproportionately affect children of marginalized groups.

  9. Promote, and establish DC policies that promote and support multilingualism for all children. This can include funding for early learning dual-language immersion programs, early childhood educator professional development for teaching and supporting emergent bilinguals, and the inclusion of multi/dual language promotion in quality rating and improvement systems.

The Hamilton administration will work with council members to set a goal of reducing DC child poverty rate, and will continue to seek policies that benefits our communities 

The Hamilton Administration Is
Recommending that we:

  1. Build awareness and understanding of your culture, personal beliefs, values, and biases. Recognize that everyone holds some types of bias based on their personal background and experiences. Even if you think of yourself as unbiased, reflect on the impacts of racism, sexism, classism, ableism, heterosexism, xenophobia, and other systems of oppression affecting you and the people around you. Identify where your varied social identities have provided strengths and understandings based on your experiences of both injustice and privilege.
  2. Recognize the power and benefits of diversity and inclusivity. Carefully observe and listen to others (children, families, colleagues). Expand your knowledge by considering diverse experiences and perspectives without generalizing or stereotyping.
  3. Take responsibility for biased actions, even if unintended, and actively work to repair the harm. When you commit a biased action, be ready and willing to be held accountable. Resist the urge to become defensive, especially as a member of a privileged group. Before making judgments, take responsibility for recognizing what you don’t know or understand and use the opportunity to learn and reflect. Be willing to constructively share feedback and discuss alternative approaches when observing potentially biased actions by others.
  4. Acknowledge and seek to understand structural inequities and their impact over time. Take action when outcomes vary significantly by social identities (e.g., lopsided achievement test scores, number and frequency of suspensions or expulsions that disproportionately target African American and Latino boys, or engagement with certain materials and activities by gender). Look deeper at how your expectations, practices, curriculum, and/or policies may contribute (perhaps unwittingly) to inequitable outcomes for children and take steps to change them.
  5. View your commitment to cultural responsiveness as an ongoing process. It is not a one-time matter of mastering knowledge of customs and practices, but an enduring responsibility to learn and reflect based on direct experiences with children, their families, and others.
  6. Recognize that the professional knowledge base is changing. There is growing awareness of the limitations of child development theories and research based primarily on a normative perspective of White, middle-class children without disabilities educated in predominantly English-language schools.

Keep up to date professionally as more strengths-based approaches to research and practice are articulated and as narrowly defined normative approaches to child development and learning are questioned. Be willing to challenge the use of outdated or narrowly defined approaches—for example, in curriculum, assessment policies and practices, or early learning standards. Seek information from families and communities about their social and cultural beliefs and practices to supplement your knowledge.

Write-In Rhonda Hamilton for DC Mayor on November 8, 2022. We’re Investing Into Our Communities. Do you want change or more of the same? 

(Check our website daily for updates, and for exciting news from DC Mayor Candidate, Rhonda Hamilton.)

Paid for by:
Rhonda Hamilton 4 DC Mayor
Finance Committee,
Thomas Carpenter, Treasurer.
421 M Street N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002
A copy of our report is filed with the Director of Campaign Finance.

Campaign Headquarters: 
421 M St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone Number: (202) 486-6037
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