Cradle to Kindergarten

On March 3, NYU Wagner, Steinhardt, and The Institute of Human Development and Social Change (IHDSC) hosted a presentation and discussion of Dr. Hirokazu Yohikawa’s and Dr. Ajay Chaudry’s newly revised book—Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality. The event explored the inequalities that exist in early care and education and featured remarks from a range of interdisciplinary experts: Dr. David Ellwood, the Isabelle and Scott Black Professor of Political Economy at the Harvard Kennedy School; Dr. Cybele Raver, Deputy Provost for NYU; and Dr. Sherry Glied, Dean of NYU Wagner.

The panel discussion began with an overview of the revised Cradle to Kindergarten’s central new insight: “More investments in a cohesive vision of high-quality early childhood interventions will promote improved, more equitable development and give all children a level playing field.” In line with their new framework, the co-authors detailed a host of policy solutions that respond to the current state of education politics. Dr. Chaudry emphasized the growth in educational inequality over the last forty years and explained that the disparities seen at ages four and five continue through K-12. The proposed policy solutions ranged from guaranteed childcare and education for children under five to a proposal for universal preschool for all children ages three to four. Dr. Chaudry concluded the presentation with a quick analysis of their 10-year investment plan—breaking down how the money would help to achieve their policy proposals as well as the overall goal of making childhood care/education more equitable.

Once the presentation concluded, Dr. Ellwood provided a response that centered around three distinct points: the “uniqueness” of the specific time period we live in, how Cradle to Kindergarten “thinks big”, and the necessity of the book’s policy proposals. Dr. Cybele Raver spoke next, explaining her work as  NYU Provost around educational inequality. She then praised the book’s scientific approach that connects developmental neuroscience to inequality in early childhood, as well as the authors “bright, bold solutions” designed to address inequality.

The event concluded with a moderated Q&A that touched upon issues such as, the book’s alignment with the Biden Administration’s education policy platform, the creation of standards in childcare and education, and educator pay and training. Near the close of the event, Dr. Chaudry stressed the urgency of the problem at hand “…we’re basically, by not doing more between birth and five, cementing inequality and limiting mobility in ways that are, you know, truly incredulous.” The panel concluded with a recognition that inequality in early childhood education must be addressed in conjunction with other societal issues such as economic inequality. 

Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality can be purchased here. The event recording can be found on the NYU Wagner Youtube Channel. 

Written by: Carly Gubitz, B.A. Public Policy at NYU College of Arts & Science (2022)