About Defending the Early Years

Defending the Early Years (DEY) seeks to rally educators to take action on policies that affect the education of young children. The principal goals of the project are:

  • To mobilize the early childhood community to speak out with well-reasoned arguments against inappropriate standards, assessments, and classroom practices.
  • To track the effects of new standards, especially those linked to the Common Core State Standards, on early childhood education policy and practice.
  • To promote appropriate practices in early childhood classrooms and support educators in counteracting current reforms which undermine these appropriate practices.

The DEY Project is directed by educator and activist Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, founder of Empowered by Play and early childhood teacher at the Mission Hill School in Boston, MA.

Senior Advisers:

  • Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Professor Emerita at Lesley University
  • Diane Levin, Professor of Early Childhood Education at Wheelock College

Other members of the DEY National Advisory Board:

  • Blakely Bundy, Executive Director Emeritus and Senior Adviser for The Alliance for Early Childhood
  • Sherry Cleary, Executive Director, New York City Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, City University of New York
  • Bill Crain, Professor of Psychology, City College of New York
  • Stephanie Feeney, Professor Emerita, University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Doris Pronin Fromberg, Professor of Education, Hofstra University
  • Ayla Gavins, Principal, Mission Hill School, Boston, MA
  • Marcy Guddemi, Executive Director, Gesell Institute of Child Development, New Haven, CT
  • Denisha Jones, Assistant Professor of Early Childhood at Howard University
  • Constance Kamii, Professor of Early Childhood Education, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Lilian Katz, Professor Emerita & Clearinghouse on Early Education and Parenting, University of Illinois
  • Edgar Klugman, Professor Emeritus Wheelock College & Co Founder of Playing for Keeps
  • Deborah Meier, author and activist, NY
  • Maurice Sykes, Executive Director, Early Childhood Leadership Institute, University of the District of Columbia

Defending the Early Years is a project of the Survival Education Fund, Inc., a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt educational organization.

11 thoughts on “About Defending the Early Years

  1. is anyone from the Bank St. College of Education (Columbia U., NYC) involved with your organization. hope i’ll hear from you. thank you.

    very much simpatico with your mission.

    norma simon


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  4. I think this is a wonderful thing that you are doing. Not all children will have high test results or scores. Certainly We do not want to ever, stifle creativity in our world by putting to much weight on test results, being the only measure to be successful in this world.


  5. I just read the excellent interview with Nancy Carlsson-Paige (AKA Matt Damon’s mom) in the Dec/Jan issue of The Progressive. I applaud your work and wish you the best of luck in bucking the destructive tide of standardized testing and over-testing to the detriment of real learning. Keep up the good fight!


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  9. As a graduate of Lesley College :) I am thrilled beyond words to FINALLY have an organization lead us back to what we know is essential for children to acquire knowledge. The unending, hyper focus on standardized testing has taken away a teacher’s ability to truly observe, listen and evaluate students as they rely on “data” to dictate what a child needs. Today, there are teachers in early childhood who simply do not have the ability or techniques to teach using play, art, games etc. but rely on pencil/paper tasks. This movement towards testing, measuring goes against everything I was taught at Lesley! Look forward to empowering teachers with the information/resources on this site!


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