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Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Care and Education

Critical Questions, New Imaginaries and Social Activism: A Reader

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Edited By Marianne N. Bloch, Beth Blue Swadener and Gaile S. Cannella

Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Care and Education is a foundational text, which presents contemporary theories and debates about early education and child care in many nations. The authors selected are leading contributors in discussions about critical early childhood studies over the past twenty years; the editors are long-time scholars in the reconceptualizing early childhood movement. Audiences include students in graduate courses focused on early childhood and primary education, critical cultural studies of childhood, critical curriculum studies and critical theories that have been contested and debated and drawn from over the course of two decades.
The book is filled with recent scholarship by leading authors in the reconceptualization and rethinking of childhood studies and early childhood fields, who discuss foundational debates, new imaginaries in theory and practice and activist scholarship. A must-read for graduate students and professionals interested in beginning or continuing critical interrogations of current early childhood policy and reforms globally.
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Chapter Twenty Three: Social Activism: The Risky Business of Early Childhood Educators in Neoliberal Australian Classrooms

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TWENTY-THREE

Social Activism: The Risky Business of Early Childhood Educators in Neoliberal Australian Classrooms

Kylie Smith and Sheralyn Campbell

Australia is a nation that has eight states and territories. Each of these is further divided into smaller areas of local government. Early childhood services that sit outside of formal schooling reflect the wide diversity of the social, political, historical, economic, and geographical landscape of Australia. They are both publicly and privately owned and operated. They vary from state to state in size, funding, statutory governance, hours and cost of operation, locations, staff ratios, and staff qualifications. The types of early childhood services used by Australian families include long daycare, preschool/kindergarten, home-based care, outside-school-hours care, occasional/informal care, mobile services, and extended family. During the Australian federal election campaign of 2007, we (Sheralyn and Kylie) watched and listened with great excitement and anticipation, as a call and promise of an investment in the early years was made by the Australian Labor Party. With the subsequent successful election of the Labor government, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) brought together government ministers and key stakeholders from all states and territories to approve the National Quality Framework (NQF). The NQF comprises an integrated set of laws, regulations, quality standards, and approved early childhood curriculum known as the Early Years Learning Framework: Belonging, Being, Becoming (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009). Other changes included increased staff-to-child ratios, the introduction of a national Early Years workforce strategy with resultant up-skilling...

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