In Defense of NAEYC’s Developmentally Appropriate Practices

We at DEY stand in support of Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP) in early childhood education (ECE).  We are dismayed at the actions of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, who reportedly forced Barbara Cooper to resign as head of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education over accusations that an early childhood book of her endorsement and use of the NAEYC DAP book. The National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has been the leading organization in the field of early childhood education for over 90 years. As a highly respected professional association, NAEYC has worked tirelessly to uplift the work of early childhood educators through a commitment to high-quality practices and professional development. Each of us at DEY has had a connection to NAEYC through membership, collaborations, and attendance at numerous conferences and events. 

NAEYC developed DAP as a resource for early childhood educators to understand the research behind how children learn and how to support their optimal growth and development through best practices.  Teacher education programs nationwide use DAP as an important tool in preparing future early childhood professionals. As a NAEYC Governing Board member, Barbara Cooper endorsed the DAP book and, as a result, became a casualty in the renewed culture war against naming and addressing racial injustice. Governor Ivey took issue with the inclusion of white privilege and support for affirming LGBTQ families and children and said, “Woke concepts that have zero to do with a proper education and that are divisive at the core have no place in Alabama classrooms at any age level, let alone with our youngest learners.”

White privilege is only divisive to those who refuse to acknowledge its existence and impact on the lives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Supporting LGBTQ families and children belongs in all classrooms as the bare minimum we must do to strengthen our democracy and champion equity for all. Acknowledging the fact that the United States is built on structural and systemic racism is only a danger to those attempting to rewrite history. Early childhood teachers are responsible for educating all children and supporting each child to develop to their fullest potential. Children of color who experience racialized marginalization need early childhood teachers who are committed to supporting them and addressing their needs. Despite Governor Ivy’s baseless attacks, Alabama children deserve early childhood teachers who recognize and embrace DAP in their pedagogy and curriculum.  We stand in solidarity with DAP and Barbara Cooper and say enough is enough. We will not stay silent as elected officials abuse their power and attempt to thwart the ongoing collective work for racial and gender justice. We at DEY signed on to support DAP in ECE and encourage you to do the same. Together we are louder and stronger. Together we will win.