Small Talks, No. 91
January 13, 2023
Welcome to the ninety first edition of Small Talks. Every Friday, I highlight 6 areas of weekly joys and reflections in early childhood and the whole family. Small Talks leverages my experience at the intersection of education, philanthropy, and impact investing. Enjoy!
What I’m celebrating -
Happy New Year 2023. This week I start with big news: Announcing that I signed a publishing book deal with my dream publisher, Public Affairs, part of the Hachette Group. Look for my first book in 2024.
The book explores a fundamental question: How do children thrive, and why do some children flourish despite adversity? The common belief is intelligence. In fact, in combing the latest scientific evidence, I show that what matters most is relationships and love.
In recent years, the scientific community has converged toward early relationships as the key to healthy brain development, resilience, and lifelong flourishing. Children need to be loved, to be valued, to interact, and to be listened to. When children have the space and time to play and explore through nurturing positive relationships, then children learn. But loving relationships are precisely what so many children are missing.
The big idea: a vision for a future where learning is relational, and love is a literacy.
Typical goals with books are fame or money. For me, it is all about impact. How can each and every child learn and thrive? The profits of the book will be distributed back to nonprofit organizations quoted in the book.
The book-writing journey has only begun. Thank you to the Small Talks community for walking alongside me and supporting me.
Also grateful for my ever caring husband for helping me launch my new personal website.
The rest of this Small Talks’ weekly newsletter focuses on an issue that has been elevated by researchers, such as luminary Dr. Walter Gilliam, and has received renewed legislative support: preschool expulsion. Did you know that:
PreK expulsions rate is more than 3x the K-12 rate.
Boys are expelled at a rate over 4.5x that of girls.
Black children in public pre-K are 2x more likely to be expelled as Latino and white children, and 5x more likely than Asian-American children. Put in another way, Black children account for roughly 19% of all preschoolers, but nearly half of preschoolers who get suspended.
Featuring two nonprofit innovators doing impactful work in this area:
JPA, which I had the privilege of spending time with this past week in Chicago. Their C2K program is an effective and low-cost model supporting teachers develop a deeper understanding of the social-emotional and mental health issues their students face.
Pyramid Model, a tiered model of practices that teachers can use to address the social-emotional and behavioral needs of children, received additional financial support to expand their model nationally.
What I’m listening to -
Dan Wuori at the Hunt Institute kicked off the year with a panel on this particular topic of preschool suspension and expulsion. The discussion was filled with latest research, child development, and strategies to prevent suspension and expulsion in the critical years of development.
What I’m reading -
One of the leaders on the panel, Dr. Kate Zissner, recently published a book on the topic No Longer Welcome: The Epidemic of Expulsion from Early Childhood Education, where she reviews the myriad of factors that lead to our preschool expulsion crisis and recommendations on what to do about it.
What I’m watching -
Dr. Walter Gilliam’s work on biases is seminal to this issue. We all have biases. Please check this NPR piece on his landmark eyesight research. It is worth watching, watching again, and watching again…
What I’m learning more deeply -
Please read this personal piece by Dr. Tunette Powell (2014) about her son being expelled 5x from preschool.
29 states now ban suspensions and expulsions in early education settings, and this number is growing. Please read more here from Build and Bank Street.
Research suggests that early childhood mental health consultations are meaningful in improving children’s social and emotional skills, but not predictive of the rate of expulsions.
Really good, thought provoking article on family well-being.
Two quotes I’m pondering -
"Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world."
“If we don’t stand up for children, then we don’t stand for much.”
— Marian Wright Edelman
Feedback is a gift. Which part above is your favorite? What did I miss? What do you want more or less of? Other recommendations? Please kindly let me know. Thank to all of you who are sending me amazing suggestions.
If you enjoy this newsletter, please help spread the word by sharing with your friends, colleagues, and networks.
Again, best wishes for 2023. Have a wonderful week. Please stay safe and care for each other.
Massive congratulations on your first (of many!) book deal. Your dedication commitment and brilliance in this field are rare and an inspiration to us all. This week’s edition of Small Talks is one of the most illuminating. Thank you for all you do!
I am a relatively new subscriber to your newsletter. I enjoy it as well as your reporting. I am a teacher in a K-5 building. I have not read Dr. Zinsser's book yet, but assume that it recommends more staffing. I currently teach in a school that does an amazing job with students who are struggling behaviorally- the "village"- veteran teachers, helpful admin, fabulous social worker all surround the child and typically, the child adjusts and problem behaviors become manageable. However, I have also taught in a building where a student leveled the classroom on a regular basis- turned over desks, stabbed a student, etc... The difference? The "village" did not exist and the teacher was blamed. Students can be supported, stay in the classroom and the remaining students can learn. That being said, it would be nice if articles about expulsion included a teacher rendition of the situation. The support that I provide for difficult students takes a major toll on me and my colleagues. I frequently dream of quitting. I think we can say that Pre-K expulsion is wrong AND honor the experiences of the teachers (and fellow students) who also experience the behavior. Thank you!