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Casey Stockstill on Economic and Racial Segregation in Preschools

  • Casey Stockstill
  • July 28 2022
  • PC115-2022

Casey Stockstill
Casey Stockstill

For this episode, we hear from Dr. Casey Stockstill about research she did to better understand economic and racial segregation in preschools. Dr. Stockstill spent time observing children in two highly rated preschools in the same city: One was a Head Start location where nearly all of the children were students of color and from lower income families and the other was a private preschool in which nearly all the students were white and from higher income families. Her observations offer insights about how inequality and segregation in early childhood education can play out in the classroom for students and their teachers.

Dr. Stockstill is currently research director at Early Milestones Colorado, earned her PhD in Sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and is a former IRP Graduate Research Fellow.

View Transcript

Dave Chancellor [00:00:02] Hello and thanks for joining us for the Poverty Research and Policy Podcast from the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. I’m Dave Chancellor. For this episode, I talked with Dr. Casey Stockstill about research she did to better understand economic and racial segregation in preschools. You’ll hear more about this in the interview. But she spent time observing in two highly rated preschools in the same city. One was a Head Start location where nearly all the children were students of color and from lower-income families. And the other was a private preschool in a more affluent part of town where nearly all the students were white. Her observations are so interesting, but also challenging, especially as we think about how segregation by class and by race can affect young children’s daily lives.

Dr. Stockstill. So, first of all, thank you so much for being here. If you would, would you just take a moment to kind of introduce yourself? What do you do and what do you study?

Casey Stockstill [00:01:00] Sure. So I’m a sociologist and I study race, class and early childhood. Currently, my role is as a research director at a nonprofit in Colorado called Early Milestones Colorado and we work on research policy and practice for the birth to eight population in our state.

Dave Chancellor [00:01:20] So we are talking today about work that you’ve called Unequal Beginnings that you did as part of your dissertation when you were trying to sort of better understand the implications of segregation in preschool classrooms. And so I guess to start off with, when did you become interested in studying preschools?

Casey Stockstill [00:01:39] For me, this started back in college when I was 19. I went to college in New York City and I worked actually at a Head Start preschool for a few years. And I noticed even then, like, wow, four-year-olds, they have a lot of observations about inequality and the world around them. They’re experiencing a lot of challenging stuff or in some cases, they’re experiencing a lot of privilege. And so at that point, I just thought, oh, kids are like an untapped group in our society, that they have opinions about what’s going on. And then when I came into graduate school in the sociology department at the University of Wisconsin, we had to do a class project in my ethnography class, and I was immediately like, Yes, I’m going to go to a preschool, going to observe them. And I actually wanted to try to understand how they construct race and racial inequality so we can talk more about how the project evolved. But it started out as I wanted to go in and see, you know, how do kids and this was 2014. So how do kids at this point in time understand race and inequality? I picked this racially diverse head start in the Madison area to try to do that.

Dave Chancellor [00:02:53] I do want to talk a little bit more about segregation in preschools because, you know, I think a lot of us are familiar, at least somewhat, with some of the processes by which K–12 schools may be segregated or may have been segregated. But what about preschools? I mean, what kind of segregation are we talking about here?

Casey Stockstill [00:03:12] That’s a great question. I think just the issue that preschools are segregated is surprisingly overlooked by a lot of people. The one important difference between K–12 schools and preschools is that in most places in the U.S., K–12 schooling is compulsory, and the government has to provide some form of education, right, for young people. But preschool still is not required. Municipalities aren’t required to supply it to people. And so it operates as a private-market good. The other thing I want to say is that preschool is not a proprietary term. You can be serving a group of children, and you can call it a preschool, and that’s just up to you. So we’re talking about lots of different things. When we say or when I say preschool, I’m talking about a lot of different things. And so they never had segregation by law as K–12 schools did. But they haven’t segregated in practice, I would say, since since the earliest preschools, well, former preschools, which are opening like the 1830s in the United States. So yeah, they’re segregated in practice. One study found that most of the four-year-olds who go to preschool are either going to classrooms that are majority white and also middle class. So race and class are linked in that way. Or they’re going to classrooms that are majority students of color and also high poverty and the smallest share of four-year-olds go to schools that are racially mixed and mixed income. So yeah. And then the last thing I’ll share is the Urban Institute put out a great report in 2019 showing that preschools are more segregated than any other level of schooling. And so we don’t have a full picture of why the segregation happens. But I think the leading explanation could just be similar to K–12 schools, which is that people choose preschool and child care near their home, and neighborhoods remain segregated by race and class.

Dave Chancellor [00:05:11] For this research you spent time observing in two different preschool classrooms, I think I’ve got that right, here in Madison, Wisconsin. So can you tell me a little bit about these schools and these classrooms that you were in? So kind of set the scene for us here.

Casey Stockstill [00:05:27] Sure. So the first school was a Head Start program. There are several in the Madison, Wisconsin, area. So this is one of the programs, operated in like what used to be an old community building. And they have kids there that are from birth to age five. It has a playground. It has multiple classrooms, really friendly teachers, a nice mix of like, some families that go to the program, they’ve had several children go there and just have long-term relationships with the teachers and administrators and then a mix of families that come in that are kind of new and need immediate child care and they’re new to the center. So I started out at that Head Start program. I call it Sunshine Head Start. That’s a pseudonym. And then I spent two years observing, going a few times a week to this Head Start classroom and specifically to one room in the building that was for three- and four-year-old children. So that’s Sunshine Head Start. Then after finishing that, it wasn’t it wasn’t from the beginning, I didn’t start saying, I’m going to do a comparative ethnography. I really was going to do one site. But after those two years, I thought, you know, I worked in a Head Start. I did these Head Start observations. In my mind, preschool was Head Start. And Head Start, it’s actually a really specific kind of program. So I decided to just observe a comparative case and I picked- there’s a lot of preschools in the area that have great reputations. I picked one of these preschools that I knew was really well run, had a great reputation, and I also knew that it was privately funded and served primarily white, affluent families. So that school was on the other side of town. It was in a building built to be a child care center. It had a much bigger playground than the sunshine had. Start with like lots of play spaces, beautiful green grass. It also served children from birth to age five. Oh, in both programs, I should say, they were extended day hours so kids could go there from 630 in the morning to 6 p.m. at night. And that’s important because this was like a significant part of these kids daily lives, right? It wasn’t like a three hour a day situation. And yeah, and I’ll just end by saying that they had a few important things in common. So they had really well-trained teachers. The lead teachers had bachelor’s degrees. They’d worked as preschool teachers for more than eight years each, which is really good for the early childhood field. And Wisconsin, like many states, rates preschools for quality with like a star-type system. And so when I was doing my research, they were both rated five out of five stars. And at that point, only 10% of preschools in the state achieved that. So there I think of them as like best-case scenarios. If you’re going to have your kid in a segregated preschool, they’re sort of best-case scenarios in terms of quality.

Dave Chancellor [00:08:26] Just for a moment, I’m hoping you can go back and tell us a little bit more about the Head Start program in general. I mean, I think a lot of people have heard of it. But just in terms of eligibility. Who who goes and kind of how this is funded, I think that’s important for us to know about.

Casey Stockstill [00:08:41] Yeah, of course. So Head Start. It started in 1965. It was part of the War on Poverty. It’s persisted ever since then. It’s one of the programs in the nation that has strong bipartisan support. And the idea is to give whole-child oriented services to young children. It started out as like something for four-year-olds and kids about to start kindergarten, but now Head Start kind of is more expansive and can go from birth to five. To qualify a family, it needs to be below the poverty line or just above it. And technically, programs can operate and have 90% of their families be near the poverty line and they can offer up to 10% of their seats to non-poor children. But in practice, I think that the need is so high among families in poverty for great preschool that a lot of programs are sort of 100% families in poverty. And so, yeah, so going back to that whole child piece, Head Start is preschool, but it’s of a certain kind. Play-based curriculums. They serve food, nutritious food to children. They do dental screenings and medical screenings for children. The kids brush teeth twice a day while they’re at school. Many of them will employ a social worker to help families find work or housing or meet other kinds of needs. So it has this kind of wraparound approach to help children, but also their families, and with a focus on kids in poverty. So that’s important for my segregation argument because Head Starts are kind of the only program that’s class segregated by design. And for this reason that they want to deliver enriching services to children in poverty.

Dave Chancellor [00:10:28] I want to hear about this observation process and kind of how you did it. And I’m curious kind of what your approach to observation was, because you know, I’ve spent time around four-year-olds and it seems like it would be difficult to just sort of like, you know, exist in that classroom without them noticing you. So how did you do this? How did you kind of engage in those classrooms?

Casey Stockstill [00:10:52] So I’ll never forget the first day of field work. I was like fresh, doe-eyed. And I was I was like, okay, I’m going to be a fly on the wall. I don’t want to be obtrusive. And that is a method, that is an approach to ethnography. So I tried that for one day. It was incredibly awkward. Kids also don’t … you know they would come up, they’re coming up to me, asking me to tie their shoes and play with them. So I abandoned that kind of “let me be detached in a corner” model really quickly. And what I ended up doing is something other ethnographers of children have done. It’s called the “least adult approach.” So I’m not pretending to be a child. I’m obviously I’m an adult, much larger than a four-year-old kid. But the goal is to be the least authoritative adult in the room. So that means if a kid is breaking a rule but no one’s getting hurt, right? I’m not going to tell on them to the teacher. I didn’t lead activities. I didn’t get Band-Aids for kids who were hurt. If they had those kind of problems, I would direct them to a teacher and just just say over and over, I’m not a teacher. I’m Casey. And I’m here, you know, writing about your class. So. So, yeah. So my goal, I wanted to really understand how the kids saw the classroom and not have them see me as a teacher. So I spent a lot of time like in circle time, I would sit next to the children at circle, for center time, I would go play with the children in a center. And there were some tensions where the teachers at Head Start would try to like make me more helpful and ask me to lead a small-group table activity. And I did a terrible job, but they’re like, okay, Casey, you’re not cut out for that. That’s fine. Which is good by me because and I told them like, hey, I want to try to just kind of hang out with the kids and not be in charge of them.

So that’s the approach I use. And then toward the end, especially at Head Start, I got more into talking to the teachers because I had sort of, in order to get to know the kids, you kind of had to step away from and ignore the teachers. And as the fieldwork wrapped up, I did interviews with the teachers and just try to see things more from their perspective to get a little bit more balance into my account of what the classroom was like. And then quickly for Great Beginnings, which was my second field site, largely white, affluent school, I only went there for one month, so I did this, it’s called focused ethnography, where you come in with a set of themes, you’re not going to get to know the people on the field site long term, but you’re focusing on key themes that you already have in mind and doing this comparative work. And so I went for one month, four days a week, for 9 hours a day, and I attempted the same “least adult approach,” but it was less successful because I just didn’t get to know the children as well. So even in my last week there, they were still calling me teacher, asking me for help, things like that.

Dave Chancellor [00:13:49] So when you started us off here, you talked about how four-year-olds are can be great observers of the world around them. You know, so I’m curious about kind of what some of the things that you saw from them, learned from them, heard from them. So I mean just in general, what were some of the things that were going on?

Casey Stockstill [00:14:09] So one of the things I’ve ended up talking about the most is children and objects at school, their access to personal property and classroom property. And that’s something that I had no thoughts about when I started my ethnography. But after being in a classroom at Head Start for six months and trying to just watch what kids were doing and what mattered to them, I noticed that some of them spent a lot of time tracking objects like a rock or an action figure they brought to school, telling other people about this property, trying to keep it safe. Having teachers take it away. And so I wanted to take that seriously, because I wanted to take the kids seriously. And that became a major theme that I wrote about. And I tried to it’s hard to interview four-year-olds, but I tried to ask them about, you know, what their thoughts were about the classroom rules for personal property in the space. And yeah, so I have an article and there’ll be a section in my book about children’s quest to enjoy personal property and how that can it can seem frivolous to adults, like it’s just a stuffed animal, it’s just an action figure. And the teachers would say, there’s toys in the classroom, like, why do you need to bring in this particular toy? But what I learned from the children is that these are objects that have personal significance to them. And when you can have something special or really resonant from home with you, you can converse with peers, you can show it to other people, you can animate it. You have control, basically, over this one object. So it’s like bringing a piece of yourself into this institutional group-learning space. And so for some of the kids, like not having that opportunity in Head Start, because Head Start had a rule that they could not bring personal toys from home, was really hard for them. And it was a source of like negative feelings, conflict with teachers.

Dave Chancellor [00:16:10] You also have written about issues of sort of the ratios and supervision and some of the things that went on there. And there are some differences between these two different sites, right?

Casey Stockstill [00:16:22] Yeah. And ratios are another thing that I when I started the preschool ethnography, it’s like I just care about the kids. What are the kids dealing with? And something like teacher to student ratios or class size — it wasn’t really on my radar. And this was something that going to the other moving, from Sunshine Head Start to Great Beginnings. Yeah, it was like, Oh, they have to have this same ratio. So they had the same ratio on paper of one teacher to six students, which is extremely excellent for this age group. So, gosh, in Wisconsin, I think at the time, the maximum allowed ratio for four-year-olds was one teacher to 12 students. So this is half of that. And even the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a leading industry group with preschool, they recommend a ratio of 1 to 10 to be like doing something. So 1 to 6 is amazing. Okay. And yet seeing seeing that ratio on paper and then experiencing it in practice, it was like, the teachers deployed their attention really differently. So at Great Beginnings it was 1 to 6 and they had a class size of 12, which is very small, but they were basically kind of spread out the two teachers would spread out in the classroom and have eyes on every kid and interacting with every kid. Right. At Sunshine Head Start, they had three teachers and 17 kids. So they had a bigger class size, but their attention was pulled on all these other things that are I would call the work of dealing with poverty and structural racism. So in Head Start, in this classroom, all the kids were living in poverty. Most of them were children of color, a mix of Black, South Asian, Latinx, and a few white children that were in the class. And there was diversity. So they’re all families in poverty. Some of the families had stable housing, like stable jobs, they had worked at Wal-Mart for like seven years. So the money was tight, but their living conditions were stable. But other families, I’m sure folks in the Institute for Research on Poverty know, right, for some people, poverty causes a lot of instability and unpredictability. And this happened in the classroom. So that’s about a third of the kids were dealing with some kind of unpredictability. That might be like major things like housing, they’re getting evicted or Head Start would reserve some spots for kids in foster care or experiencing homelessness. Right, so those are major life unpredictability factors. But other kids just had family changes, or a parent go to jail for a little while and you would see that sometimes in their behaviors. So they would come to school and be really mad and kicking other kids, or jumping off bookshelves, or cursing. And so they’re kids with like high behavioral needs and needs for emotional support. But they don’t have IEPs. They don’t have an Individualized Education Plan that would get them a classroom aide. And so the teachers, some of the teachers, two of them would usually pair up with kids in these unpredictable situations. Or like the kid who just started Head Start because she just entered foster care. Right. And had to move as part of that. And that left one teacher to watch the rest of the kids. So in practice, I say at Sunshine Head Start it was two teachers pair off 1 to 1 and then it’s one teacher supervising the other 14 kids. And so this meant there was this group of 6 to 7 kids on a given day who were being watched for safety reasons, you know, they were kept safe, but they didn’t have a teacher right there commenting on the structure they built out of blocks or, you know, available to read a book to them at the drop of a hat. So that’s what I call kind of ratio in practice that I think is overlooked. And this qualitative view can kind of tell us more about.

Dave Chancellor [00:20:15] I think you also wrote about how the sort of documentation requirements at Sunshine Head Start were also a lot higher. And so almost necessarily the teachers had to commit like a fair amount of their time to just paperwork, right?

Casey Stockstill [00:20:32] Yeah. This is so interesting for me. It’s a reaction I get from some folks when they read about, like, my work talks about things that might have happened in the classroom that are not ideal. Sunshine Head Start and a lot of people’s first response is, where is the teacher? Or does the teacher have training on social-emotional learning interventions or mindfulness or, you know? And I’m like, yeah, they actually had a lot of interventions and trainings, that happens a lot with Head Start, but every training or intervention usually layers on a paperwork requirement. And so it was a big frustration to the lead teacher at Sunshine Head Start, I call her Ms. Roxanne, that she was like, I know exactly how to be with the kids. Like, I know what to do. I know what they need. But she spent, depending on the day, she spent like at least a quarter of her day on tracking and paperwork. So tracking needed for Madison’s four-year-old kindergarten program, writing something called gold notes, doing developmental tracking for each of the 17 kids. They have to track who’s offered food every day, they have to track attendance. And and so it’s just it’s layer upon layer of paperwork. And it is it just became ironic for Ms. Roxanne because she’s like, I can’t do the things I need to do because I have to write about the things I need to do for all of these funders. And let me just add at Great Beginnings, those teachers had more autonomy.  So they did have paperwork, their main paperwork, in my opinion, was newsletters they wrote to families, emails from parents, planning for field trips. They also did a developmental booklet for the kids. And so seeing that, I was like, Oh, what’s this like for you? Like, is this frustrating? How do you make time? They didn’t find it frustrating. They found it enjoyable. And a key difference for them is that their director wanted them to do this. And it was it was part of them having a high-quality program, but it wasn’t like money is on the line. If you if you don’t do these tracking systems, we’re going to lose a funding stream. Right. And it was still overall less paperwork than Head Start teachers had to do.

Dave Chancellor [00:22:45] So you’ve talked a little bit about just sort of how you interacted with kids playing, reading, things like that. And, you know, you said that there are probably some differences, right, between these two sites in terms of how playing and reading maybe worked out. Is that right?

Casey Stockstill [00:23:04] Yeah, the reading the reading differences were really, those sort of hit me in the face, they were really obvious. So at Head Start, what I was used to observing was, at Sunshine Head Start, I was used to observing, the teachers would try to read a book after coming in from the playground, but before having lunch, because they said, this is when the kids are the most calm. They’ve just run on all their wiggles and they’re able to kind of sit and listen. I think they finished the book they started maybe like 70% of the time, so they wouldn’t always finish it because kids on the mat would be rolling around, kicking a friend, and they’d have to kind of work on those behaviors and they would stop reading the book. I didn’t really have thoughts about that, I wasn’t judging that though, just that, oh yeah, they read about a book a day. When I went to Great Beginnings, I looked at their posted classroom routine, because a lot of preschools will have like a schedule or a routine that they follow. And it said that they read twice a day, and I thought, that’s nice. But then once again, in practice, they actually folded in books constantly. So the routine said Arrival, Breakfast, Playtime. Well, actually, the kids come in before breakfast. They sit and read a book as a group. Then they eat breakfast, and while they wait to get back in line, they look at books by themselves. When they return from breakfast, they’re reading another book. So it was an average of six times a day that the Great Beginnings kids would sit as a class and read a book, plus many other times that they would pass out books to the kids and let them individually browse. Huge inequality there. And again, the reason why Sunshine Head Start kids were read to less is because teachers were oriented toward behavior and paperwork and all these other demands, and they didn’t have the time to sit and read to the class.

And then with playtime, this this was kind of ironic because most people I talk to would assume that middle class white children might be given more control or autonomy. If you think about jobs that people have as adults. Right. Often like the higher paid your job, the more control you have over it compared to like a shift, hourly worker, for example. But in these two classrooms, I think it’s kind of paradoxical, but in these two classrooms, the Sunshine Head Start kids have much more control over play. So it’s a common in play-based preschool to have at least an hour of time where the kids can go to play centers and kind of decide what they’re going to do. Open-ended play, right. And both centers would tell you we do a play-based curriculum. But again, seeing it in practice at Sunshine Head Start, the rules were to tell the teacher at your initial play center to say I’m going to go play in blocks. And then after that the kids decide when they’re done in blocks. They just clean up, they go to another center and they decide who they’re playing with, how long they play, what they play. And so I watched them often, especially in dramatic play area, bring in groups of like five or six children with these complicated play schemes. And it was really creative and cool to see. And then they also, the kind of downside of this autonomy they had over their play, was that they had more conflicts. So there’s more kids to deal with that have, you know, arguments about, no, you play the mom and I’ll play the dad or things like that. But then they solve those conflicts. So they’re kind of practicing skills. Great Beginnings, they called it actually Free Choice time. But the way they ran it was the teacher would assign two kids to a center. They’d say, Hannah and Justin, you guys go play in the science area. And then they would set a timer for 15 minutes. And when the timer beeped, everyone had to move to a new center and the teachers did a little bit of curating. So they might say, like, oh, Justin like needs to work on his fine motor skills, but he never chooses the writing table. So I’m going to send him there first, kind of trying to get the kids to be well rounded. And a consequence of that, so Great Beginnings. I mean, the first day I walked in, I thought, wow, it’s so quiet in here and calm. And the kids were content, but just much quieter and much calmer in free and playtime at Great Beginnings compared to Sunshine Head Start.

Dave Chancellor [00:27:22] You talked a little bit about this before, but I just kind of want to double back on some of the issues that the teachers at Sunshine Head Start faced in terms of like instability in these children’s lives. Because it seems like that was sort of a major factor. And I’ve heard this in other Head Starts, just issues with attendance, other things like that. It seems like it was a lot for these teachers to deal with.

Casey Stockstill [00:27:47] Yeah, it is. I think it’s I think it’s kind of an impossible task. And, that’s why I think I would like to see more integrated programs. It’s just a conundrum of this type of policy because you want to reach as many kids in poverty as possible. So grouping them together lets you do that. But the downside is any challenges they face are now also concentrated in one room. And the teachers, I mean, just to state the obvious, they can’t control when a kid comes to school or parent’s being incarcerated or eviction that’s happening. But they do deal with the fallout of that. And I also want to highlight the absence of those challenges at Great Beginnings. It was just taken for granted there, that, when I went there in February for that one month, and in February they had the same 12 kids. Since September, all of them, they came almost every day. If a kid didn’t come at Great Beginnings, they were sick or they were on a vacation, right. And Head Start was not that way. Half the kids were stable and I’d been there since September and many of them had great attendance. But always there was a fraction of kids that you didn’t know if they would come or not, right. Or they were there for a month and now that family moved. And then that slot had to be filled again. So it’s a real challenge, I think, wanting to provide preschool for children and be kind of ready to help poor families and meet their needs. But at the classroom level, I think we need to pay attention to that turnover and the work that it creates for teachers and for the other kids that are in the class.

Dave Chancellor [00:29:28] So I guess I want to step back a little bit. I mean, so you observed at these two different classrooms in a mid-sized, Midwestern city, Madison, Wisconsin. But I mean, as a sociologist and ethnographer, how do you think about moving from things you learned in these two particular sites to sort of broader lessons about US preschools or early education?

Casey Stockstill [00:29:50] Yeah. And as you’re kind of mentioning, this is a common problem with ethnography, right. You get this depth, I got so many insights by being near kids every day for two years. But what you lose out on is it’s difficult to speak broadly about how what I observed about generalize to other preschools and other places. So the way that I like to think about it is what are the classroom and program level variables that matter, and how might those show up in other kinds of places? And so that’s why I talk about class size and ratio. Those are two common levers that early childhood people like to pull to try to influence their measures of quality, right. And then I would say the most overlooked indicator that we don’t have for most preschools is the class and race composition of the classroom. Because my work would argue that there’s all kinds of unintended social consequences of this segregation and that, from what I observed, separate can’t be equal in preschool. So yeah, so when I think about other schools, for example, I’m now here in Colorado working with preschools as well. And so the first thing I ask myself is, okay, there was a constellation of class and race inequalities that were in Wisconsin, in Dane County, in the state, right. Those things were in the background of everything happening at that school. So how does Colorado’s condition compare when I just think about class and race inequalities. And then the next kind of level up is institutional. And so for a given preschool, I might ask, what’s the class size like? What’s the ratio, how segregated is it? And that those indicators can kind of give you a sense of what might be happening for kids’ experiences in that place. So it’s kind of about the structural, like, basic factors in a place and then some of the factors of a given preschool argument program that I’m saying, oh, these matter, we should pay more attention them.

Dave Chancellor [00:31:53] More broadly. What do you take away from all this, especially as we sort of think about the challenges of segregation in preschools?

Casey Stockstill [00:32:02] That’s the million dollar question, right? My basic takeaway, I think it’s very important. I know for people who care about K–12 schools, it will seem really obvious, like they’ve been saying it since the sixties, but it’s basically that we can’t expect preschool to eliminate the consequences of racism and poverty that kids and families are experiencing. And so that will seem obvious because that’s been a debate for K–12 education for so long. And yet I think we just pinned so much hope on preschool as different. It’s before kindergarten. It’s this chance to intervene. Preschool still does have pretty amazing long-term effects on kids’ lives, right. When you compare, especially poor children who go to preschool versus poor children who do not go to preschool. But I think the expectations are too high. And I think we’re going to fail to live up to them, especially if we deliver preschool in segregated contexts. So I’m hoping that my research can point people to other factors like segregation, or like how a great ratio on paper isn’t felt the same way by children and teachers, as you might expect, depending on how segregated the program is, that we can just talk more openly about these factors as we try to make preschool better. And a side note is I just encourage more conversation about the connection between preschools and then K–12 education, right? So there were these kind of controversial findings from the Tennessee Preschool Program that kids benefited for a while, but it wasn’t as great as you would hope. And one of the reasons why can be that even if you designed the most perfect preschool and maybe it isn’t segregated, it’s integrated and it’s wonderful, what we’re still asking children to do is to have this great learning experience and then go out into K–12 schools that are largely unequal institutions, right. And they have to fight their way through those to see success in life. And I think what we owe to children is a lifetime of fair, equal, affirming, well-resourced institutions for them to have a part in. And that should start with preschool. But it shouldn’t stop there. It should keep going.

Dave Chancellor [00:34:24] Dr. Stockstill, I am so grateful for your time and just for you sharing all this work. This is so interesting.

Casey Stockstill Thank you.

Dave Chancellor Thanks again to Dr. Casey Stockstill for talking about her research with us. You can find her on Twitter at Casey Stockstill or read more about her work at Casey Stockstill dot com. This podcast was supported in part by funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. But its contents don’t necessarily represent the opinions or policies of that office. Any other agency of the Federal Government or the Institute for Research on Poverty. Music for the episode is by Martin de Boer. Thanks for listening.


Child Development & Well-Being, Children, Early Childhood Care & Education, Education & Training, Inequality & Mobility, Racial/Ethnic Inequality


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