EdPolicyWorks Seminar Series


Bavaro Hall | 417 Emmet St S, Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA

Speaker: Sara Mead

Logistics: Monday, March 16th, from 12:00 - 1:30 PM in Bavaro Hall, Holloway Hall (Room 116)

Title: Early Care and Education in the United States: Challenges, Opportunities, and Questions 

Abstract: Research demonstrates how the earliest years of children's lives lay the foundation for future learning and thriving. But early childhood learning and development has historically been an afterthought in U.S. education and public policies. U.S. public education systems don't start until age 5, and while most young children are in some form of regular childcare, these services are delivered through a fragmented patchwork of public, private, and inform arrangements. Despite growing recognition of the research on early childhood development, Americans remain conflicted about the role of formal care and education for young children as well as the responsibilities of parents, government, and civil society to support young children's learning and development. Over the past quarter century, states and the federal government have made increasing investments in expanding access to pre-k and early childhood programs, but large gaps in quality and access remain. This seminar will feature a candid discussion about why early care and education matter for children and society; the current state of early care and education in the United States; the factors driving increased focus on and demand for high-quality early care and education; barriers to expanding access to quality early learning; and opportunities for research, practice, and policy to work together to advance learning and support for young children and their families.

Bio: As a partner with Bellwether Education Partners, Sara Mead directs the organization’s early childhood work and leads teams analyzing policies and advising clients on a variety of early childhood, elementary, and secondary education issues. Her areas of expertise include preschool, Head Start, charter schools, and teacher quality across the P-12 continuum. Since joining Bellwether in 2010, Sara has provided strategic advising support to foundations, advocacy organizations, and early childhood operators. Her work has been featured in media outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, Slate, and USA Today, and U.S. News & World Report. Before joining Bellwether, Sara directed the New America Foundation’s Early Education Initiative. She has also worked for Education Sector, the Progressive Policy Institute, and the U.S. Department of Education. From 2009-2017, Sara served on the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board, which authorizes charter schools in Washington, D.C. Sara currently serves on the board of the National Association for Charter School Authorizers (NACSA). She holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Vanderbilt University. As the daughter, granddaughter, and sister of public school educators, Sara grew up with a deep appreciation for the importance of public education and the opportunities it provided to her and her family. Her work at Bellwether seeks to extend these same opportunities to our nation’s neediest youngsters — particularly in the early years that are such a crucial time in children's cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development.

Link: https://curry.virginia.edu/faculty-research/centers-labs-projects/edpolicyworks/education-policy-seminar-series