Children at the Center

Children at the Center Transforming Early Childhood Education in the Boston Public Schools

Betty Bardige, Megina Baker, Ben Mardell
paper, 248 Pages
Pub. Date: July 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-202-7
Price: $34.00

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Pub. Date: July 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-204-1

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Children at the Center provides a closely observed account of a decade-long effort to reshape the scope, direction, and quality of the Boston Public Schools’ early childhood programs. Drawing on multiple perspectives and voices from the field, the authors highlight the reflective, collaborative, inquiry-driven approach undertaken by the program and share lessons learned.


This is the book I’ve been waiting for. Children at the Center includes many voices expressing the importance of high-quality early learning and illustrating how it can be achieved. The Boston case study demonstrates the brilliance of the social justice framework that sustains the vision over time–and highlights the complexity of the dynamic, essential relationships with teachers, principals, community organizations, funders, politicians, and school administrators. After reading this book I am both inspired by possibilities and energized to pursue the transformations still required to best serve all of our children. — Valora Washington, CEO, Council for Professional Recognition

With joyful, purposeful activity as the core value and priority for children, teachers, and even the district’s central office staff, the story of Boston Public Schools stands apart from the overarching tone of education reform across the country. Children at the Center presents a clear picture of how to navigate the false dichotomies of play versus rigor, and policy versus practice, not only in preK, but also in the primary grades. — Kristie A. Kauerz, director, National P–3 Center, University of Washington/University of Colorado Denver

The book blends local history, innovative educational theory, and vivid classroom examples to chronicle the emergence of the city’s high-quality pre-K program. — Alyssa Haywoode, Eye on Early Education (blog)

[Children at the Center offers] a delicious taste of what a promising early childhood education program can offer. — Matthew Lee, Journal of School Choice

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About the Authors

Betty Bardige is a developmental psychologist and an early childhood author, advocate, foundation leader, and consultant. She focuses on language, literacy, and family engagement.

Megina Baker has been an early childhood educator in the United States and Sweden. She is now a researcher at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and part of the Early Childhood Education faculty at Boston University.

Ben Mardell has taught infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners. He is currently a principal investigator at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

E-book available through online booksellers

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