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Critical Examinations of Quality in Early Education and Care

Regulation, Disqualification, and Erasure

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Edited By Gaile S. Cannella, Michelle Salazar Pérez and I-Fang Lee

Quality rating systems discourses and practices are increasingly dominating early childhood care and education around the globe. These rating systems are constructed with the assumption that universally appropriate environments can be constructed for all those who are younger. This deterministic, ratings, and measurement oriented perspective is consistent with neoliberal discourses that privilege competition, accountability, consumer materialism, and notions such as human capital; this contemporary neoliberal condition does not support concern for the common good, democracy, equity, justice, or diversity (unless the support can facilitate new forms of capitalist gains). Ultimately, this is not a positive situation for those who are younger. The chapters in this book have two goals: (1) to provide the reader with an opportunity to engage with some of the specific problems that result from putting forward ‘quality’ as a dominant construct, and (2) to generate conversations and locations from diverse knowledges and multiple ways of being that could lead to the rethinking of quality, understandings of quality as a narrowing construct/practice, and/or going beyond (and outside of) notions of quality.
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Chapter One: “Readiness” as Central to the (Re)production of Quality Discourses in the United States: An Early Childhood Public Policy Analysis

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CHAPTER ONE

“Readiness” AS Central TO THE (Re)production OF Quality Discourses IN THE United States

An Early Childhood Public Policy Analysis

MICHELLE SALAZAR PÉREZ AND BETSY CAHILL



INTRODUCTION

Quality has been critiqued as a traveling, global discourse embedded in teacher practices, early childhood programs, and public policy (Dahlberg, Moss, & Pence, 2007; Pence & Pacini-Ketchabaw, 2008). The United States has especially influenced the global view of quality with its neoliberal, market-based interpretations of care and education for young children, development of post-positivist quality measurement instruments, such as ITERS-R (Harms, Cryer, & Clifford, 2006) and ECERS-R (Harms, Clifford, & Cryer, 2005), and public policy supported by federal and state funding that mandates the development and use of standardized quality rating systems. Without a doubt, the United States has been instrumental in propagating universal conceptualizations of quality both locally and around the world.

Embedded within quality discussions surrounding Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is the notion of school “readiness” or the purported need for pre-school programs to ensure children are “ready” for K–12 education, which in many circumstances, is defined by children’s ability to pass benchmarks and standardized tests in public school grades. School readiness has also been constructed as an essential attribute within the child herself (both behaviorally and cognitively), among families and communities, and of public schools (Bloch & Kim, ← 11 | 12 → 2015). A major component, then, of determining...

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