11 Advocacy for High Quality Early Education

Dr. Susan Eliason and Gwen Alexander


It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men. —Frederick Douglass

I encourage you to be a Champion for Young Children. Improving conditions for families, caregivers and communities—living wages: quality, affordable housing; paid parental leave; high-quality childcare; flex time; social inclusion and desegregation; better transit—can improve young children’s chances for growing into healthy, compassionate and responsible adults. Learn about elected officials and the issues in Massachusetts by following early education news.  You can join the Strategies for Children  e-mail list and read their Eye on Early Education blog.  Another wonderful source to support advocacy is the Raising of America website and the toolkit they provide.  See:

Our elected officials need to hear many voices delivering the same, clear message at the local, state and national level.  The message is that the USA needs to prioritize young children and families and the early education and care workforce.  We must work together to make our voices heard.

Do you know who represents you in Congress? If you don’t know find out at http://www.whoismyrepresentative.com.  Send a message to your US representative and Senators either a  letter, hand written note or children’s artwork. Offer to be a resource for early education and care in the district.

Include an invitation to come for a visit to your program.  Do this at the state level as well.

In Massachusetts, each city and town is structured according to the rules and regulation it established and may have amended over the years. Some communities may have mayor or a board of selectmen and women and some might have a town manager. And, while most cities have mayors and city councilors, not all do. There are 39 cities, 312 towns in 14 counties in the commonwealth. Click here to see more about Community Readiness.

We must close the opportunity gap and ensure that all children, regardless of their family’s means or the neighborhood they grow up in, enter school on a path for success.  We must continue to build upon the strong foundation by prioritizing policies and effective investments that result in positive outcomes for children.

Challenge 1

Engage candidates and your community. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about an issue that you feel passionate about.




Challenge 2: What do you know about ethics?


Term Definition
Code of Ethics  
Core Values  
Ethical Dilemma  
Ethical Responsibilities  
Professional Ethics  


  1. A moral conflict that involves determining appropriate conduct when an individual faces conflicting professional values and responsibilities.
  1. Behaviors that one must or must not engage in. Ethical responsibilities are clear-cut and are spelled out in the Code of Ethical Conduct (for example, early childhood educators should never share confidential information about a child or family with a person who has no legitimate need for knowing).
  1. Commitments held by a profession that are consciously and knowingly embraced by its practitioners because they make a contribution to society. There is a difference between personal values and these.
  1. Defines the core values of the field and provides guidance for what professionals should do when they encounter conflicting obligations or responsibilities in their work.
  1. Peoples’ views of what is good, right, and proper; their beliefs about their obligations; and their ideas about how they should behave.
  1. Qualities or principles that individuals believe to be desirable or worthwhile and that they prize for themselves, for others, and for the world in which they live.
  1. The moral commitments of a profession that involve moral reflection that extends and enhances the personal morality practitioners bring to their work, that concern actions of right and wrong in the workplace, and that help individuals resolve moral dilemmas they encounter in their work.
  1. The study of right and wrong, or duty and obligation, that involves critical reflection on morality and the ability to make choices between values and the examination of the moral dimensions of relationships.

See how to check your answers in the description of  the assigned article for this chapter.

What is a Code of Ethics and why is it important?

The Code of Ethics provides guidelines for responsible behavior.  The Code imparts a common basis for resolving the principal ethical dilemmas encountered in early education & care. The best introduction is found in the 9 minute video:  Overview of the Code of Ethical Conduct at:  http://www.naeyc.org/ecp/resources/ethics and then watch the 7-minute video:  How to Use the Code: Day-To-Day Practice in Programs for Young Children.

Now read the NAEYC (2005) Code of Ethical Conduct and Statement of Commitment (Position Statement) which is organized into 4 sections plus supplemental matters.

  • Section I: Ethical responsibilities to children
  • Section II: Ethical responsibilities to families
  • Section III: Ethical responsibilities to colleagues (coworkers, employers, employees)
  • Section IV: Ethical responsibilities to community and society
  • Glossary Check your answers to the pretest on page 8
  •  Statement of Commitment

The Code allows early childhood professionals  to determine if a situation is either a responsibility or a dilemma.

Key Takeaways

Ethical Responsibilities Behaviors that one must or must not enact. Ethical responsibilities are clear-cut and are spelled out in the Code of Ethical Conduct (e.g., never share confidential info about a child or family…).

Ethical Dilemma A moral conflict that involves determining appropriate conduct when an individual faces conflicting professional values & responsibilities.


When presented with an ethical dilemma, ideally we should use ethical finesse to meet the needs of all involved without making a difficult decision.  In other words, the goal is to create win-win situations.

Here is a flow chart to illustrate the decision making process.  Now  read Feeney, S. & Freeman, N.K. (2013, March)   The Birthday Cake:  Balancing Responsibilities to Children and Families Young Children. 96-99.

Ethical decision making chart

Here is the flow chart completed with the information from the dilemma where Olivia the director is committed to serving nutritious foods and healthy choices for children and to developing close relationships with all families. Her center does not regularly serve cookies, cake, or other foods full of sugar, fats and preservatives.   The handbook states this policy including no birthday cakes allowed instead families are to send in sliced fruit, vegetables, or veggie pizza. Olivia warmly greets families & children daily.   One morning, a new mother to the program, Mrs. Chang, who has been shy and speaks English as a second language, arrives with a large, elaborately decorated cake to celebrate her child’s, Mei-Zhen’s birthday.

Olivia’s ethical decision making chart


Does Olivia follow the policy or strengthen her relationship with this mother?  

Other examples of dilemmas and how to resolve  them  are found at:

Feeney, S. & Freeman, N.K. (2016, March) Ethical Issues Responsibilities and Dilemmas Young Children. 86-89.

Feeney, S. & Freeman, N.K. (2016, March) Misleading the State Inspector: The Response. Young Children. 68-69

Feeney, S. & Freeman, N.K. (2014, September) Reporting Classroom Behavior:  Balancing Responsibilities to Children and FamiliesYoung Children. 100-104 

What is professional behavior?

#1 – I am showing respect for my colleagues when I

  • Take responsibility for my own actions
  • Avoid trying to transfer blame to others
  • Refrain from comparing my unacceptable actions/behavior to that of a co-worker’s
  • Refrain from condemning a co-worker’s life style that is different from my own
  • Acknowledge their contributions to the program (be specific about the contribution and how it helps the program)
  • Carry my share of the work load

#2 – I am helping to create a positive work place environment when I

  • Keep my personal life/problems out of the work place
  • Keep my comments to others positive rather than negative
  • Share resources with co-workers
  • Help a co-worker without being asked
  • Plan with co-workers the program of activities for children
  • Let a co-worker know in private about a concern I have about her actions
  • Avoid conflict with co-worker in presence of children, other co-workers and families
  • Attempt to resolve conflicts with co-worker in a confidential manner
  • Involve Director as a mediator when conflict cannot be resolved by me and co-worker
  • Avoid gossip about co-workers, children and families

#3 – I can feel good about my day at work if I

  • Came in with a smile and leave with a smile
  • Look forward to returning the next day
  • Know I have focused on the children in my care
  • Know that each child has felt welcomed and nurtured in my care
  • Have greeted families and let them know I am happy to see them and their child
  • Shared a new idea or information with a co-worker
  • Heard a positive comment about something I have done that day

#4 – I am demonstrating that I am a responsible employee when I

  • Am familiar with all program policies, especially personnel policies
  • Am familiar with Minimum Licensing Requirements and understand my responsibility in complying with them
  • Follow all program policies
  • Accept verbal and written notices and consequences when I do not follow policies
  • Participate in self-evaluation and evaluation by supervisor
  • Can accept constructive suggestions for improvement by supervisor
  • Keep confidential all information about my performance evaluations and salary
  • Seek professional development opportunities


Challenge 3:  My Ethical Responsibilities to Children


  • Read the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct: Preamble, Core Values, and Section I. Ethical Responsibilities to Children: Ideals and Principles.
  • List 3—5 very specific examples of what you do or can do to support the Principles listed.
Principle Examples of what I am doing or can do to support each of the principles


Example: Let children know you are there to protect them; to keep them safe.




Example: Be available to greet children and family members as they arrive.




Example: Treat each family with respect.
P.1.8 P.1.9

P.1-10 P.1.11

(Consider these

4 principles



Example: Be familiar with signs of abuse and neglect.


Challenge 4:  Ethical Dilemmas We Face


  • Read the situation and decide on ethical dilemma
  • Decide on the ethical response to the situation. What should you do?
  • Identify the Principle(s) that apply to the situation.

Situation #1 – When Beliefs Clash

Family photos are posted on the wall in my classroom. One photo is of a child and her two mothers. A parent tells you that you should take the photo down because she does not want her child exposed to this life style. In addition, she says that she certainly doesn’t want her child to play with the child with two mothers.


Ethical Response Based on Principle(s)

Situation #2 – Families are Different

At the beginning of each new school year my program requires that I include a Topic of Study about families. I usually ask children to bring in family photos and we do activities that focus on the members of a child’s family. For the first time I have a child in my group whose mother is absent from the home. According to the grandmother who brings the child in each day, the mother has left the child and her three siblings with her. The grandmother does not know where the mother is or if she will ever return to her family.


Ethical Response Based on Principle(s):

Situation #3 – Inclusive Classroom

The Director tells you that she has enrolled a new child in your preschool classroom and that the child has leg braces and uses a walker. You have never before had a child with a disability in your group.


Ethical Response Based on Principles(s):



Challenge 5:  Narrative 7: PROFESSIONAL ETHICS IN ACTION

In Narrative 7:  Professional Ethics In Action describe and explain using descriptive details, analysis, and clear references to NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct, 3 difficult professional decisions by educators or administrators in observed settings.

Explain 1 case of unethical conduct that clearly violates one or more of the ethics principles.

Then describe and explain 2 examples of ethical dilemmas, A dilemma is a situation with two possible resolutions, each of which can be morally justified. A dilemma requires a person to choose between two actions each having some benefits and some costs. In a dilemma, the needs and interests of one individual or group must give way to those of another individual or group.

Your writing should include rich descriptive details, a complete analysis, and clear references to NAEYC’s Code of Ethical Conduct.


  1. Example #1 (unethical conduct)
    1. Objective description in detail of the incident
    2. Analysis
      1. Identify the problem and the people involved.
      2. Guidance from the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct based on Principle(s)
  • Explain why the behavior is clearly unethical
  1. Example #2 (ethical dilemma)
    1. Objective description in detail of the incident
    2. Analysis
      1. Identify the problem and the people involved.
      2. What are possible resolutions? Who is making a decision between 2 options?  What are the 2 options?
  • How can you meet the needs of everyone involved without having to make a difficult decision (ethical finesse)?
  1. Guidance from the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct based on Principle(s)
  2. Explain how you selected the most ethically defensible course of action
  1. Example #3 (ethical dilemma)
    1. Objective description in detail of the incident
    2. Analysis
      1. Identify the problem and the people involved.
      2. What are possible resolutions? Who is making a decision between 2 options?  What are the 2 options?
  • How can you meet the needs of everyone involved without having to make a difficult decision (ethical finesse)?
  1. Guidance from the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct based on Principle(s)
  2. Explain how you selected the most ethically defensible course of action

Example of how you might brainstorm before writing the narrative:

 “The Harsh Teacher”

Mary is a new assistant teacher sharing a toddler classroom with a lead teacher, Sam, who has been employed in the program longer. Sam  snaps at the toddlers, saying “no” and “don’t do that” and threatens them with “time out” if they don’t do what she tells them to do. Some toddlers cry, some seem to be afraid of the teacher and some come to me for comfort.


  • Mary is the assistant teacher
  • Mary wants to be a cooperative co-worker
  • Mary knows the teacher’s behavior is harmful to children

Ethical Response based on Principle(s)

  • She could discuss with the lead teacher her concerns about the emotional environment in the classroom (P-3A.2)
  • The assistant teacher could provide examples of children’s reaction to the things the lead teacher says to them (P-3A.3)
  • The two of them might seek guidance in creating a more positive environment (P-3B.1)
  • The assistant could ask the Director for resources (P-3C.1)
  • The assistant teacher could discuss her concerns with Director if co-worker is not responsive to suggestions for improvement (P-3B.4)
  • The assistant could request that the Director to come in and observe and offer suggestions (P-3C.1)




NARRATIVE 6 EXAMPLE – Professional Ethics in Action

Example One: Unethical Conduct

I was outside on the playground with the toddlers. The playground floor was made from woodchips. The teachers placed the non-mobile toddlers in the woodchips and began talking to each other. I observed the toddlers that were non- mobile begin picking up woodchips and placing them in their mouths. I thought the teachers will see this and handle it but when I looked over neither teacher was paying attention to any of the children on the playground. I waited a couple of seconds then glanced at the teachers once more and still they were not paying attention. By this time one of the children had a handful of woodchips in their mouth.

The main people involved in this dilemma is myself and the teachers. The problem was the lack of supervision of the children.

Possible resolutions to this problem would be the director having a serious conversation about how the children need to be supervised always. Another solution could have been me running over and taking the woodchips out myself.

P-1.1- Above all, we shall not harm children. We shall not participate in practices that are emotionally damaging, physically harmful, disrespectful, degrading, dangerous, exploitative, or intimidating to children.

I selected this as the most defensible course of action because the children’s safety was at risk. The lack of supervision is dangerous for a toddler’s well-being.

Example Two: Ethical Dilemma

It was the beginning of nap time and the aide was placing down the mats as I was sitting with the owner of the family child care center. The owner saw the aide moving a mat in a different spot than usual. When the owner asked her politely why she was doing the aide said rudely “because I want to move her there she distracts all the others and I’m not moving her back.” The owner didn’t respond to the aide. Instead she told me we should move to the kitchen so we could talk without waking the children. When we sat down the owner said “do you see the way she talks to me?” “she has no respect” “I wish I could fire her but good help is hard to find at the moment” “She can be such a bitch sometimes”. When I asked her if she ever talked to her about it the owner replied with “no I can barely stand to say two words to her plus I know it would end up in a fight”.

The problem is that the owner and the aide are not communicating. Also, the owner has not addressed her problems with the aide and instead talks unkindly about the situation. The main people involved are the owner and the aide.

Possible resolutions would be having a conversation with the aide and let her know that you are the boss and being talked to rudely is not only unacceptable but unprofessional. Also, go over any other concerns you may have. Another resolution would be to actively look for someone to fill her position and then let her go.

P-3A.2- When we have concerns about the professional behavior of a co-worker, we shall first let that person know of our concern in a way that shows respect for personal dignity and for the diversity to be found among staff members, and then attempt to resolve the matter collegially and in a confidential manner.

I selected this ethical course of action because this is what should have been done immediately. When having concerns about a person’s professional behavior it is important you address those concerns in a respectful way and then attempt to resolve the issue because everyone should be working for the best interest of the children. Having pent up frustrations or letting the poor behaviors of both professionals happen is not good for the children to be observing.

Example Three: Ethical Dilemma

It was late in the afternoon and for the last hour of the day the children had choice time. During choice time the children could choose to play in the block area, dramatic play area or play with table toys. In the dramatic play center, there were three girls playing and one boy. The boy decided he wanted to dress up as a fairy so he put on a dress, fairy wings and dress up high heels. The girls also decided to dress up. The children were playing great together and took turns being the fairy leader. Everything was great until the boy’s father stepped into the classroom for pick up. When the boys’ father saw his son dressed up he yelled across the room “take that off right now!” “What did I tell you about dressing up like a girl!”. The father then looked at the teacher and said “How dare you let my son dress up like a fagot!” The teacher stood frozen in place and before she could speak the father took his son by the hand and stormed out of the room saying “unbelievable”.

  1. The problem is that the father is upset and is using language that is inappropriate and offensive. The main people involved are the child, father and the teacher.
  2. Possible resolutions would be the teacher asking the father to have a calm voice and try to use non-offensive language when an issue arises. Another possible resolution is letting the father calm down and talk to him privately the next day. You could explain to him that in the school policy it states that children are allowed to participate in all activities or something similar stated in the policy. Also, you could let him know that if there is an issue he can always talk with you privately away from the children.
  3. I-1.5- To create and maintain safe and healthy settings that foster children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development and that respect their dignity and their contributions.
  4. The behavior was clearly unethical and applies to this ideal because the yelling made the children in class feel scared as well as the teacher. Also, the words that he used were offensive and could be damaging emotionally as well as cognitively.


Mandated reporting

The NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Criteria & Guidance for Assessment includes criterion addressing child abuse and neglect.  For example, criteria 10.D.03 states:

The program has a written policy for reporting child abuse and neglect as well as procedures in place that comply with applicable federal, state, and local laws. The policy includes requirements for staff to report all suspected incidents of child abuse, neglect, or both by families, staff, volunteers, or others to the appropriate local agencies. Staff who report suspicions of child abuse or neglect where they work are immune from discharge, retaliation, or other disciplinary action for that reason alone unless it is proven that the report is malicious.

The Code of Ethics includes principles about our responsibilities for mandating reporting.

P-1.8—We shall be familiar with the risk factors for and symptoms of child abuse and neglect, including physical, sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse and physical, emotional, educational, and medical neglect. We shall know and follow state laws and community procedures that protect children against abuse and neglect.

P-1.9—When we have reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect, we shall report it to the appropriate community agency and follow up to ensure that appropriate action has been taken. When appropriate, parents or guardians will be informed that the referral will be or has been made.

P-1.10—When another person tells us of his or her suspicion that a child is being abused or neglected, we shall assist that person in taking appropriate action in order to protect the child.

P-4.7—When we become aware of a practice or situation that endangers the health, safety, or well-being of children, we have an ethical responsibility to protect children or inform parents and/or others who can.

P-4.9—When we have evidence that an early childhood program is violating laws or regulations protecting children, we shall report the violation to appropriate authorities who can be expected to remedy the situation.

Under Massachusetts law, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the state agency that receives all reports of suspected abuse and/or neglect of children under the age of 18. State law requires professionals whose work brings them in contact with children to notify DCF if they suspect that a child is being abused and/or neglected. DCF depends on reports from professionals and other concerned individuals to learn about children who may need protection, more than 75,000 reports are received on behalf of children each year. DCF seeks to ensure that each child has a safe, nurturing, permanent home and provides a range of services to support and strengthen families with children at risk of abuse and neglect.

Challenge 6:  Mandated Reporter Training

Complete the 51A Online Mandated Reporter Training Recognizing & Reporting Child Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation.  The self-paced training takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. You must proceed through the training in the order the lessons are presented.

 Examining assumptions

The way to eradicate prejudice is to start with ourselves. We have to be role models for children. Hopefully that will make the difference. – Student quote

 When you challenge assumptions, you can increase your cultural competence which is about being confident in yourself and comfortable with others.  The Work Group for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas, (n. d.), explains the four stages in building cultural competence.

  1. Cultural knowledge is when you know about some cultural characteristics, history, values, beliefs, and behaviors of another ethnic or cultural group.
  2. Cultural awareness adds an understanding other groups and being open to the idea of changing cultural attitudes.
  3. Cultural sensitivity is knowing that differences exist between cultures, but not assigning judgement to the differences.
  4. Cultural competence is the action of working with many different behaviors, attitudes, and policies in cross-cultural settings to produce better outcomes.

Source: Work Group for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas. (n.d.) Chapter 27. Cultural Competence in a Multicultural World  see Section 7. Building Culturally Competent Organizations  from the Community Tool Box website at: http://ctb.ku.edu/en


We live in a diverse and increasingly interconnected world. Changes in one part of the world affect people everywhere.  We will likely see the composition of our workplaces and communities with more people of color and immigrants. There are many benefits to diversity, such as the access to rich resources of alternative ideas for how to do things, and the opportunity for contact with people from all cultures and nationalities. The benefits of increasing your cultural competence include:

  • Increased respect and mutual understanding among those involved.
  • Enhanced creativity in problem-solving through new perspectives, ideas, and strategies.
  • Improved trust and cooperation.
  • Assistance in overcoming the fear of mistakes, competition, or conflict because everyone is more likely to feel more comfortable in general and less likely to to look over their shoulders to be sure they are being “appropriate” in majority terms.
  • Strengthened inclusion and equality.

How do I increase my cultural competence?

The Work Group for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas offers these 5 essential principles.

  1. Value diversity means accepting and respecting differences between and within cultures. We often presume that a common culture is shared between members of racial, linguistic, and religious groups, but this may not be true. A group might share historical and geographical experiences, but individuals may share only physical appearance, language, or spiritual beliefs. Our cultural assumptions can lead us to wrong conclusions. As people move to new areas and meld with other cultures it creates a kaleidoscope of subcultures within racial groups. Gender, locale, and socioeconomic status can sometimes be more powerful than racial factors.
  2. Self-assess your cultural knowledge, awareness, and sensitivity. Challenge your assumptions! Watch these short videos about bias:
    1. Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Racism from the New York Times  https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000004818663/peanut-butter-jelly-and-racism.html?playlistId=100000004821064
    2. What Kind Of Asian Are You?
    3. Unconscious Bias Basics:

How do these videos illustrate assumptions? Why do we prefer people like us?  The problem of cultural incompetence lies in our need to learn more about others. How will you become aware of, knowledgeable about, and seek contact with people from diverse:

  • Nationalities regional, or other geographical area
  • Ethnic groups
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Social class
  • Spiritual beliefs and practice
  • Physical and mental ability
  • Age
  • Educational status
  • Family status
  • Health status
  • Occupational status
  • Socioeconomic status
  1. Understand the dynamics of difference. For example, Native Americans and African Americans, among other groups, have experienced discrimination and unfair treatment from dominant cultures. Mistrust coming out of these experiences may be passed on to the next generations of these groups, but ignored within the dominant culture. Generational differences also impact working place dynamics.
  2. Institutionalize cultural knowledge. Programs must provide professional development as well as reviewing policies for the degree of responsive to cultural diversity. Program materials should reflect positive images of all cultures.
  3. Adapt to diversity. When you recognize, respect, and value all cultures and integrate those values into the system, culturally competent programs can meet the needs of diverse groups.

Online Resources for further reading

Brown University Training Materials: Cultural Competence and Community Studies: Concepts and Practices for Cultural Competence. The Northeast Education Partnership provides online access to PowerPoint training slides on topics in research ethics and cultural competence in environmental research. These have been created for professionals/students in environmental sciences, health, and policy; and community-based research. If you are interested in receiving an electronic copy of one the presentations, just download their Materials Request Form (found on the main Training Presentations page under “related files”), complete the form, and email it to NEEPethics@yahoo.com.

Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice

The Center for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services collects and describes early childhood/early intervention resources and serves as point of exchange for users.

Culture Matters is a cross-cultural training workbook developed by the Peace Corps to help new volunteers acquire the knowledge and skills to work successfully and respectfully in other cultures.

The International & Cross-Cultural Evaluation Topical Interest Group, an organization that is affiliated with the American Evaluation Association, provides evaluators who are interested in cross-cultural issues with opportunities for professional development.

The Multicultural Pavilion offers resources and dialogue for educators, students and activists on all aspects of multicultural education.

The National Center for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University increases the capacity of health care and mental health programs to design, implement and evaluate culturally and linguistically competent service delivery systems. Publications and web links available.

National Technical Assistance Center (Networks newsletter)

Ohio State University FactSheets (Working with Diverse Cultures)

Parents Helping Parents, Inc.(Indicators of Cultural Competence)

SIL International makes available “The Stranger’s Eyes,” an article that speaks to cultural sensitivity with questions that can be strong tools for discussion.

University of California — San Diego HR Diversity Education Program. (The Cultural Competence Model)

Some of my resources:

Invisibilia where the speakers explore the invisible forces that shape human behavior — things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. The show is co-hosted by a trio of NPR’s award-winning journalists — Alix Spiegel, Lulu Miller and Hanna Rosin — who have roots at This American Life, Radiolab and The Atlantic.  I want to listen to the episode where the main character does the opposite of what their natural instinct is – and in this way, transforms a situation see:  Flip the Script at http://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/485603559/flip-the-script.

The podcast Code Switch created by a team of journalists fascinated by the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting.

 Student questions for further research

I left the class discussion with more questions than answers.  For example, a student made me think more about the tourist approach and teaching multiculturalism..

Here are questions that are lingering with me:

How do you explain to someone who is not a teacher, that preschool is important?

Do you know of any trainings on improving multicultural competence?

How do we stop ourselves from making assumptions? How do you teach a adult about diversity?

How do parents or families portray us as the educators on first impressions?

Challenge 7 – Option A:  Contemporary Issues Discussion


Look for recent events or developments in the real world that are related to our readings and assignments about assumptions.  Analyze the current affair to identify the connections to course materials in discussion postings, blog entries, or in small group class discussions.

So What?

This technique deepens your understanding of course related ideas and concepts and guides you to apply course ideas to your work with children and families.  I hope to stimulate your curiosity and that you see the relevance of the materials we are reading.   You will reflect upon your learning to deepen your understanding. The discussion forum will serve as evidence of your learning and how you connect course concepts to your life and the world around us.

Now What?

Create a response to the discussion forum with the following elements:

  1. The citation of the news or journal article source written in APA format
  2. Summary of the article including the who, what, where, when, why and how
  3. Relationship of course principles, ideas, and concepts that the article reflects. Refer to specific readings or videos from the course.
  4. Reflection where you relate the current issue to your life.
  5. Given what you learned about assumptions in the course, what might you advise the people described in the article to do now that would help them to move forward most productively?

Adapted from Barkley, E. F. (2010).  SET 29:  Contemporary issues journal.  In Student engagement techniques:  A handbook for college faculty (pp.276-279).  San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass.

Contemporary Issues Discussion Forum Grading Rubric

Adapted from Assessing Outcomes and Improving Achievement: Tips and tools for Using Rubrics, edited by Terrel L. Rhodes. Copyright 2010 by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.”

Level Emerging Understanding Acceptable Target
Point Value 0-2 3 4 5
Critically evaluates information and the source ethically & legally The source is primarily focused on a personal opinion. The relevance to the course concept is questionable.

The information was published over a year ago.

Student correctly uses 0-1 of the following strategies:

1.      APA citations

2.     APA references

3.     Appropriate choice of paraphrasing, summary, or quoting.

Distinguishes between common knowledge and ideas requiring attribution.

Selects an appropriate source.  The information is relevant and current. There is minimal analysis of the source of the information or content of the information.


Student correctly uses 2 of the following strategies:

1.      APA citations

2.     APA references

3.     Appropriate choice of paraphrasing, summary, or quoting.

4.     Distinguishes between common knowledge and ideas requiring attribution.

Selects an appropriate source.  The information is relevant and current. There is some analysis of the source of the information or content of the information.


Student correctly uses 3 of the following strategies:

1.      APA citations

2.     APA references

3.     Appropriate choice of paraphrasing, summary, or quoting.

4.     Distinguishes between common knowledge and ideas requiring attribution.

Selects an appropriate source that is important to the concept.  The information is relevant, current (within the past year) and the student critically and completely analyzed the expertise of the author and bias or point of view of the information.

Student correctly uses APA citations and references.  The student makes appropriate choice of paraphrasing, summary, or quoting.

The student distinguishes between common knowledge and ideas requiring attribution.

Connects to ECPK 480 content Has difficulty determining key concepts. The type of information selected does not relate to concepts. The reader has to guesses as to the relationship of course principles, ideas, and concepts.  The student determines a few course concepts. The relationship of course principles, ideas, and concepts that the news article reflects is clear.  The student determines most key course concepts. The relationship of course principles, ideas, and concepts that the news article reflects is clear and logical.  The student effectively determines key course concepts.
Initial participation and effective communication Did not participate in the Discussion forum until Wednesday or later in the week.

Did not use examples to illustrate ideas or include an open-ended question with response.

The writing was often choppy, with frequent errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, or other writing mechanics, such as imprecise or inappropriate language and vocabulary.

Responded to forum by Tuesday at 11:59PM.

Used an example to illustrate ideas.

Asked an open-ended question with response.

The writing included problems with organization and meaning.

The writing was generally clear and professional in tone.

There were several spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar.

Responded to forum by Tuesday at 11:59PM.

Used an example to illustrate ideas.

Asked an open-ended question with response.

The writing was organized and generally clear and professional in tone.  There were minimal spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar errors.

Responded to forum by Monday at 11:59PM.

Used multiple examples to illustrate ideas.

Asked an open-ended question with response.

Polished writing, almost free of errors, with consistent professional tone and clarity of language.

Uses information to engage in conversation with colleagues The reply includes information that is fragmented or used inappropriately such as misquoted, taken out of context, or incorrectly paraphrased.

Replied to 1 peer (a TOTAL of 1 posting this week)

Did not replied to peers.

Replied by communicating information from sources; to at least 2 peers (a TOTAL of 3 postings for the week).

The student forgot to include an open-ended question with each reply.

Replied by logically communicating information from sources; to at least 3 peers (a TOTAL of 4 postings for the week).

The student forgot to include an open-ended question with each reply

Replied in depth by communicating, organizing, and synthesizing information from sources; to at least 3 peers (a TOTAL of 4 postings for the week).

To help stimulate further thinking and conversation, the student ends each of the replies with an open-ended question.



Challenge 7 – Option B:  Reflection Questions

Discuss Assumptions by: answering and explaining using multiple examples:

  • How do assumptions and past experiences influence your ratings?
  • Identify an assumption you have about programs and explain how and why it exists.
  • How have the readings, videos, and/or discussions changed your thinking? Why or Why not?  Refer to at least 3 of the readings or videos.



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Advocacy for High Quality Early Education by Dr. Susan Eliason and Gwen Alexander is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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