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A couple of weeks ago I taped a video chat with Susan Ochshorn on how to put the whole child in the center of early childhood education policy reform. This got us at the McCormick Center thinking about a parallel concept—whole leadership of ECE programs. The whole child approach recognizes there are multiple and equally important domains of development for the young child. As reform efforts strive to close the achievement gap, child development experts caution against an unhealthy emphasis on cognitive development at the expense of young children’s social, emotional, and physical development. I fear we may be embarking on a similar, “one single ingredient” way of thinking when it comes to reforming policy around ECE leadership.
There is a lot of interest these days in ECE leadership. Last year the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council released its seminal report, “Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation”. One of the 13 major recommendations in this nearly 700 page book concerns ECE program leadership:
Thought leaders across the country are reviewing the competencies and qualifications of early childhood administrators, both school principals and center directors. At the McCormick Center, we, too, have responded to the challenge by reviewing our published statements on ECE leadership as well as the content of our professional development initiatives. This effort has led us to two conclusions:
Over the next several months, the faculty and staff of the McCormick Center will post weekly considerations of the whole leadership concept. We really want to hear from you, the program leaders doing the work, to help shape our multi-faceted, nuanced understanding of ECE program leadership.
Please join the conversation by sharing your thoughts, ideas, and concerns in the comments section on each weekly post—including this one! Alternatively, join the conversation on social media using #WholeLeadership. Or e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Regardless of how you share your view, we are so eager to hear your perspective on whole leadership. Leadership matters! Help us shape this new conversation.
Dr. Teri Talan is the Michael W. Louis Chair and Interim Executive Director of the McCormick Center at National Louis University. She promotes action by state and national policymakers on early childhood workforce, leadership development, and program administration issues.