As early childhood education continues to gain prominence on the agendas of policy makers across the globe, members of the field of early childhood education are concerned that these reforms will create new governing discourses that restrict how early educators are defined and limit their work with young children. While these neo-liberal policies tend to alter traditional conceptions of early education and learning, opportunities do arise for early educators to formulate responses to these policies in a way that might expand these neo-liberal conceptions of early education. Through an instrumental case study of standards-based education reform in a large urban early childhood program in the USA, the author examines one such opportunity, in which a collection of pre-kindergarten stakeholders responded to a set of particular policies that emphasize a uniform conception of learning and student performance. This article provides insight into the struggles of early childhood stakeholders as they attempt to address these governing discourses of reform, and it raises questions as to whether proactive responses can destabilize the normalizing power that exists within these policies.
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