May 022014

Originally posted at the Washington Post.

By Valerie Strauss with Geralyn McLaughlin, Nancy Carlsson-Paige. This is a report on Defending the Early Years’ survey on early childhood teachers’ views about current state and national early childhood education policies and mandates.

The Common Core State Standards for students in kindergarten through Grade 3 have come under severe criticism by early childhood education experts who say that they are not developmentally appropriate. Even some supporters of the Core initiative, including American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, have called for a revamping of these early education standards. Weingarten made her call in conjunction with early childhood expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige of Lesley University in Cambridge, a senior advisor to Defending the Early Years, a non-profit project of the Survival Education Fund, Inc. — a 501(c) 3 educational organization — that is dedicated to rally educators to take action on policies that affect the education of young children.

Here, from Defending the Early Years, is a document created to help teachers and parents understand why the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are inappropriate for kindergarten through third grade and to help teachers and parents advocate against them while at the same time promote policies and classroom practices that will best meet the needs of young children. Continue reading »

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Mar 212014

This article first appeared in the Boston Globe and again in the Telegram.

by Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Ed.D. and Diane E. Levin, Ph.D.

If people are shocked by the killings in Jonesboro, Arkansas, which follow the killings in Stamps, Arkansas, which follow the killings in West Paducah, Kentucky, and Pearl, Mississippi, which follow on the heels of a more than doubling in violent crimes among youth since the mid-1980’s, then they haven’t been paying attention.

Children in the United States are swimming in a culture of violence which has its effects from subtle to deadly on every child. The violence comes in many forms–family abuse, violence on the streets, in the community, violence in the news. Every 10 seconds a child in this country is abused or neglected. Every 2 hours a child is killed by a firearm.

And then there is entertainment violence–every child’s automatic membership in a media-saturated, popular culture that glorifies violence through images, actions, and models marketed to children via television, toys and other products, videos, video games, and Hollywood films. On television alone, children see 32 acts of violence every hour and over 1,000 murders a year. Teachers and researchers have been warning for more than a decade that this violent culture marketed to children has harmful effects, both in the present and for the long term. Continue reading »

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Nov 132013

This post originally appeared on Diane’s blog on the Huffington Post.

The Massachusetts Legislature’s House-Senate Joint Committee on Education recently heard testimony on behalf of legislation proposed to develop comprehensive media literacy education in kindergarten through 12th grade. I testified in strong support of this legislation because of my deep concern about how media and technology are affecting today’s young children and changing what and how they learn.

My concerns grow out of years of research on the issue and the seeming failure of educators and policymakers to take these changes into account in their work with children and families. My work led to the recently released bookBeyond Remote-Controlled Childhood: Teaching Young Children in the Media Age. It is designed to empower early childhood educators do exactly what the Massachusetts legislation proposes. Continue reading »

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Aug 222013

 This post originally appeared on Diane’s blog on The Huffington Post.

Boston City Council President Provides a Model for Us All

On Tuesday, August 13, I had the opportunity to testify at a Boston City Council Subcommittee hearing held on a proposal submitted by the Council President, Stephen J. Murphy, banning children under age 18 from attending live cage fighting and mixed martial arts events in Boston. The entire City Council is due to vote on the proposal this week.

For over 30 years, I have studied the impact of violence, including entertainment violence, on the lives of children. I have also looked carefully at how we can protect children from exposure and counteract the harm that it can cause. My work leaves little question that the passage of President Murphy’s resolution would contribute to the wellbeing of children and Boston and beyond — such as future mixed martial arts events like the one which was held at Boston Garden last weekend. Continue reading »

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Aug 022013

Reprinted from

Increasingly we hear that academic work, including test prep, is reaching down into the lowest grades, even preschool. Here’s a post with teacher concerns on the issue, written by Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, and Diane E. Levin. They run the nonprofit called Defending the Early Years, which seeks to rally educators to take action on policies that affect the education of young children. DEY is a non-profit project of the Survival Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational organization based in Watertown, Massachusetts. You can read more stories from teachers at the DEY website, on the “Voices from the Field” page. Continue reading »