Crossing the Boundaries: The Need to Integrate School Leadership and Early Childhood Education

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Recent Illinois legislation requires school principals in the state to be qualified to provide school leadership for children from preschool to grade twelve instead of kindergarten to grade twelve. Illinois is the first state to make such a change and may well serve as a model for change in school leadership preparation on a national level. The inclusion of the requirement for school leaders to provide leadership to preschool children is a welcome one. However, this legislation leaves open how such leadership should be conducted and how it should be developed in principal preparation programs. The silence of the legislation on these issues is a cause for concern because leadership preparation faculty and their candidates often lack substantive training in early education. The legislation should be strengthened—in law, in practice, or both—by drawing on three principles of high-quality early childhood education that emerge from educational research: (1) Early education influences later success in life and should be integrated into the school setting with such consequences in mind, (2) Early education should involve a developmental approach to curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and (3) Educational practice should account for children's psychological and sociocultural contexts.

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The University of Illinois at Chicago Research on Urban Education Policy Initiative





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