AERA Centennial Lecture Series Highlights Early Child Care and Education in Oklahoma City

February 2017

On February 22, AERA held its fourth Centennial Lecture and Discussion Forum in Oklahoma City with Deborah Lowe Vandell of University of California, Irvine, as the featured lecturer. With an audience of 180 and several hundred more joining online, Vandell’s talk initiated a conversation with expert commentators and attendees on early child care and education.

  • Watch the full Oklahoma City Lecture and Open Forum here

 The event, held at the Oklahoma History Center, drew a diverse audience of policy leaders—including Oklahoma’s state superintendent of schools, the state health commissioner, and elected state representatives—as well as teachers, child care providers, and education researchers. 

 Vandell’s lecture, titled “The Opportunities and Challenges of Early Child Care and Education,” examined the short- and long-term benefits of early care and education as well as the factors that impede early care program effectiveness. She also explored promising policies and strategies that can ensure young children receive the high-quality early experiences they need.

 “We are seeing consistent reports of short-term impacts and some mixed reports of middle-term outcomes of high-quality programs,” said Vandell, a professor of education and psychology in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine. “Research tells us the conditions that need to be in place to maximize the likelihood of positive program impacts; programs must be high quality, and the linchpin of quality is highly skilled teachers.”

 “Are these investments in early childhood programs worth it? Without a doubt,” Vandell said. 

 The lecture was followed by a “living-room style” open forum, where experts on early child care and education joined Vandell on stage and offered initial comments directed to identifying issues for audience consideration and discussion. Ben Felder (The Oklahoman) moderated the discussion, with Debra Andersen (Smart Start Oklahoma), Gary D. Sandefur (Oklahoma State University), and Danny Wells (The Chickasaw Nation) serving as commentators.

 The AERA Centennial Lecture is a national, six-city series promoting public engagement and fostering new conversations between the education research community and policy and practice sectors across the country.

The fourth lecture in the series will take place on Thursday, March 23, 2017, at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit. Charles Payne (University of Chicago) will deliver a lecture on “The Limits of Schooling, ​ the Power of Poverty.”

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