Issue 51 of the Bank Street Occasional Papers Series is a response to Gunilla Dahlberg, Peter Moss, and Alan Pence’s 25-year interrogation of the concept of quality in early childhood education (ECE) (Dahlberg et al., 1999, 2013, 2023). Their groundbreaking work has called early childhood educators to question deeply held assumptions about the universality of childhood and how these shape the standardization of practices in early childhood settings around the world. They have argued that the homogenization of ECE practices is a factoryization of early childhood that undermines cultural pluralism and the field’s equity aspirations. This raises an imperative to explore ideas and practices that go “beyond quality,” particularly through what Dahlberg and colleagues have called the “ethics of an encounter.” In essence these ethical encounters are instances where early childhood educators practice democracy, including navigating conflicts, thereby creating equity-centered change through their small, day-to-day interactions and meaning-making with others (Dahlberg et al., 2013). However, while quality is typically conceived of as existing primarily in classrooms, the authors in Issue 51 remind us that the small world of ECE exists within oppressive systems imbued with intersecting racism, classism, sexism, and ableism, and that, therefore, a beyond quality praxis requires nurturing and supporting educators through partnerships (recognizing that resilience is social), developing political commitments and orientations through relationships, and mobilizing these relationships for collective action towards liberatory alternatives.

Author Biography

Mark Nagasawa

Mark Nagasawa (yonsei, he/him) directs the Straus Center for Young Children and Families at Bank Street College of Education. His anthropologically-informed scholarship lies at the nexus of curriculum and policy studies, investigating how people across educational settings negotiate globally-circulating education reform agendas. This work is rooted in his upbringing as a great-grandchild of voluntary im/migrants; social safety net beneficiary; and child of a Head Start teacher-mom whose career began by volunteering in his classroom because he was “failing.”

Cristina Medellin-Paz

Cristina Medellin-Paz (she/her/ella) is the Associate Director at the Straus Center for Young Children and Families at Bank Street College. Her research examines the systems and structures that support the early childhood workforce through professional development, leadership opportunities, and "stackable" credentials (e.g., credit-bearing credentials like the Child Development Associate leading to two-year, four-year, and graduate degrees). As a first-generation bilingual/bicultural developmental psychologist, she applies a critical lens in her research that uplifts and affirms communities of color.



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