NCSD2015: Workshop A3

Supporting Diverse Preschool Classrooms

Studies have shown that racially and socioeconomically diverse preschool classrooms offer important cognitive and social benefits for children. Unfortunately, opportunities for integration in early education are limited by the reality that most private preschools are out of reach for low-income families, and most public programs are only accessible to low-income or at-risk children. Where can we find creative solutions to encourage diversity in early education within existing funding structures? What changes to state and federal early childhood programs can better support opportunities for integration? And for preschools that succeed in creating diverse enrollment, what supports are needed to meet the needs of all children and families? This panel will discuss what is needed to encourage the creation and success of racially and socioeconomically integrated preschool classrooms, from both practitioners’ and policymakers’ perspectives.


  • Dee Dee Parker WrightExecutive Director, Jubilee JumpStart
  • Tammy MannGoverning Board Member, National Association for the Education of Young Children
  • Mali JimenezParent, Jubilee JumpStart

Moderated by Halley PotterFellow, The Century Foundation

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This workshop began with an overview of the research on diversity in preschool classrooms from Century Foundation fellow Halley Potter. Over the past decade, new research on young children has shown cognitive and social benefits of racially and economically integrated learning environments, echoing decades of research that have found similar results for older children. And yet preschool classrooms remain some of the most segregated learning environments because lower-income and higher-income families rarely have access to the same programs. Some early childhood centers–like Jubilee JumpStart in Washington, D.C.–have developed models to promote integration, however. Dee Dee Wright, the center’s director, and Mali Jimenez, a parent, explained Jubilee JumpStart’s model for diverse enrollment, serving families with childcare subsidies, tuition-paying families, and families enrolling in universal pre-K. Finally, Tammy Mann, a board member at the National Association for the Education of Young Children, discussed what it takes to make diverse early childhood classrooms successful at providing high-quality education for children of all backgrounds. She also highlighted federal policy changes that could increase opportunities for integration, including proposed revisions to Head Start Performance Standards that would require programs to consider whether socioeconomically diverse enrollment (enrolling over-income, tuition-paying families alongside Head Start children) is possible in their area. You can view the presentation here.

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