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Confronting the Quiet Crisis
In 2009, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) adopted a new policy statement on early childhood education. Based on the work of a task force of 13 chiefs, A Quiet Crisis: The Urgent Need to Build Early Childhood Systems and Quality Programs for Children Birth to Age Five presents a compelling argument for why public education leaders should care about young children well before they enter kindergarten.

“A quiet crisis is threatening the future of America. Deeply rooted achievement gaps and shortfalls, and a lack of high-quality early learning opportunities compromise the potential of too many children. ”

The statement calls on chief state school officers to work with other state leaders and the early childhood community on a three-fold agenda: building coherent early childhood systems that address standards, assessment, data, professional development, and accountability; improving program quality in all forms of early care and education; and aligning and integrating early childhood and kindergarten through 3rd-grade schooling.

This follow-on report, Confronting the Quiet Crisis: How Chief State School Officers Are Advancing Quality Early Childhood Opportunities, is intended to help chiefs implement the recommendations made in A Quiet Crisis. It addresses the pragmatic and strategic questions of chiefs who appreciate the contributions of strong early childhood programs, but are more than fully occupied with ambitious and challenging initiatives to improve the performance of elementary and secondary schools. How can they make the case for early childhood investments in today’s state budget context?  How can they best lead on early childhood education when, in most states, responsibility for managing programs is spread between education, human service, and health agencies, and federally-managed Head Start and Early Head Start programs?

To address these questions, the Council launched the Early Childhood Leadership Development Project in 2010 to enhance the leadership capacity of chief state school officers to promote high-quality preK, kindergarten, and other early learning programs for children birth to age eight. With funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the project’s first step was to identify and document a range of examples where chiefs have been successful in raising awareness of the significance of the early childhood agenda, and in promoting tangible change in state policies and investments.

Complete 61-page report.
Abridged version of report, including: Introduction, Minnesota chapter, Lessons for Chiefs (conclusion).

To read report
For both a complete copy of the 61-page report and an abridged version (focusing on the Minnesota chapter), scroll to the PDFs below.

"Brenda (Cassellius, MN Commissioner of Education) is passionate about closing the achievement gap. There has been more collaboration between schools and early childhood programs in the past year than I have seen at any time in my 10 years as an executive director. What she is doing is going to result in better outcomes for all Minnesota children."
--P. Fred Storti, Executive Director, Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association

States included in the report

  • Maryland: Nancy Grasmick, Maryland State Superintendent, 1991-2011.
  • Oklahoma: Sandy Garrett, Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1991-2011.
  • New Jersey:  Bill Librera, New Jersey Commissioner of Education, 2002-2005; and Lucille Davy, New Jersey Commissioner of Education, 2006-2010.
  • Rhode Island: Deborah Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Education, 2009-present.
  • Minnesota: Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota State Commissioner of Education, 2011-present.