Crystal Sanford-Brown: Candidate Statement
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Quality Produces Quality. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act previously covered students in K-12. As stated by the U.S. Department of Education, “with this reauthorization, the ESEA has been transformed from a K-12 education law to one which envisions a preschool through 12th grade (P-12) continuum of learning” (U.S. Department of Education, 2016). The intentionality of this change in the law is to provide a dashboard and reminder for State and local legislators of the importance of providing quality early childhood foundations for ALL children. It’s during the first three years that the brain is growing more quickly and easily than any other three-year span in life.
Teacher preparation is another area of connectivity to building quality early childhood programs and environments. Children can’t and will not succeed if their needs are not met because of inefficient teacher preparation programs. Furthermore, children aren’t well served when individuals working in the field who possess a lack of commitment and interest to a lasting professionalism. Efficient funding in ESSA for early learning would positively impact student achievement for all children and the professionals providing services and support for children.
Diversity within the student populations is continually changing within the United States. Without clearly defined teacher preparation programs and professional development support, many teachers will be ill prepared to meet the cultural and sensitive needs of the children entering programs. The inclusion of early childhood education within ESSA supports effectiveness and efficiency for progress towards quality programing. As we continually address processes and procedures for educating students, it is imperative for the United States Department of Education to explore every viable measure to assure quality equitable educational funding for all children; despite the zip code where their slumber may dwell.
In sharing my personal story, as an advocate for children, I now know that as a young child, I met many risk factors. Who would have imaged that this bright-eyed Brown girl, who once stuttered and utilized Title I and III services for special education support, would triumph over many hurdles, and would graduate in the first class of Renaissance High School in Detroit, MI. I have been successful in completing several higher educational credentials, becoming an accomplished college instructor, serving as the first African American President of Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (miaeyc.org), receiving the nomination for the NAEYC board for naeyc, and well on my way of completing a doctorate degree in higher education leadership from Central Michigan University. None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the support of well-prepared educators, and the trust of parents who believed in the educational system to support my needs. Students with teachers who aren’t prepared to meet the needs of children due to social economic factors, cultural diversity and special needs, may not fare so well.
It gives me a sense of exhilaration to support initiatives amongst a group of like-minded advocates who place high performing inclusive organizations (HPIO) as a priority. Given the opportunity to serve in the position of Vice-President on the NAEYC board, I would bring extensive experience with non-profits; established relationships in the early childhood business communities; detailed knowledge of Michigan Great Start to Quality programs, knowledge and skills in project management and grant funding; a history of advocating goals for educational quality with local, state and federal legislators; and a commitment to building effective work environments for best practices and efficiency. I sincerely look forward to furthering NAEYC’s commitment to its strategic plan to advance the Power to the Profession. I believe that I am an ideal candidate for Vice-President and have a sincere passion to support the framework of NAEYC’s mission and vision via the work of the Governing Board.