Early Ed Watch - logo
 

Dear President-elect Obama: Listen to Your Adviser's Mom

November 6, 2008 - 10:15am

There's been a lot of speculation in the past few days--and is sure to be more coming--about whose counsel President-elect Barack Obama is going to be heeding when it comes to education issues. We don't claim to have the inside track on who's likely to be tapped for key positions in the administration, but there is one connection from his Chicago days who we hope the next president listens to when it comes to early education.

That's Barbara Bowman, Chief Officer of Early Childhood Education for the Chicago Public Schools. Bowman's been running early education in Chicago since 2004 and has done important work expanding the number of quality publicly funded pre-k slots available in community-based providers, improving quality, strengthening teacher qualifications and professional development, and even closing down poor-quality providers. She's also been an important national leader in early education for nearly 50 years, co-founding the Erikson Institute in the mid-1960s; Chairing the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy and co-editing its seminal report Eager to Learn: Educating our Preschoolers; serving on the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on the Prevention of Reading DIfficulties in Young Children, which produced the seminal Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children; and recently serving on the National Early Childhood Accountability Task Force.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Bowman is the mother of key Obama adviser and confidant Valerie Jarrett, who's also a co-chair of the Obama transition team. Bowman is 80 years old and has a great deal of work left to do in Chicago, so we don't necessarily expect that she'll be coming to D.C. to take a formal role in the administration (although we'd be pretty dumb to assume she won't). But as the Obama administration moves to act on its early education promises, they'd do well to pay close attention to Jarrett's mom.