Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding How Parent Choice and Program Leadership Foster Socioeconomic Diversity within High-Quality Early Learning Programs: A Case Study of Two Baltimore City Sites
by Demma, Rachel, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2018, 162; 10786324
Abstract (Summary)

In the last two decades, research has increasingly demonstrated that public investment in high-quality early care and education, particularly when focused on low-income children, pays off in terms of improved outcomes for young learners in academic achievement and overall well-being (Heckman, 2011). Now, a growing evidence base within the early childhood field also demonstrates that socioeconomic status (SES) diversity in early learning settings improves kindergarten readiness and social-emotional development for all children (Reid, 2012).

To contribute to the early childhood field’s efforts to better understand how parent choice and program leadership foster SES diversity within community early learning programs, this in-depth case study examined two high-quality SES-diverse community early education program sites operating in Baltimore City. Interviews were conducted with program executive-level and site-level leaders, staff, and a purposeful sample of parents of varying income levels. A parent focus group was also conducted. In addition, program-level leadership of early learning community programs in Baltimore City with a Maryland quality rating of two or more stars were surveyed.

Key findings of this study include, 1) Despite their shared belief in its implicit value, parents across the income continuum aren’t explicitly seeking out enrollment in socioeconomically diverse early care and learning programs; 2) Within the two selected socioeconomically diverse program sites, program recruitment and engagement approaches are neither explicit or refined enough to appeal universally to parents across varying economic backgrounds; and 3) Both parents and leaders also may struggle against their own class-based social identities and deeply internalized value systems, including perceived superiority and privilege, in in enacting either the program choice or transformational leadership that drives the development socioeconomically diverse settings. Finally, this study informs leadership actions policymakers may take to promote the development and sustainability of socioeconomically diverse high-quality early learning programs.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gadsden, Vivian
Commitee: Allard Agnamba, Lindsey, Wolf, Sharon
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Educational and Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 79/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Education, Early childhood education
Keywords: Early childhood education
Publication Number: 10786324
ISBN: 978-0-438-04612-2
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