This is one of the most important questions that the author of Early Math in Illinois: Recognizing and Raising the Profile explores in depth. She outlines many of the factors that result in inequitable access to quality math education during the early years, but focuses primarily on socio-economic disparities and language barriers as two of the main impediments. It is also clear, that this is not particular to Illinois or the Chicagoland area, but a widespread and pervasive issue affecting young children across the country.
The report describes data that indicates a child’s socio-economic status will be a primary determining factor in whether or not s/he has access to quality early math exposure and experiences. Furthermore, her research reveals that schools in communities that serve lower SES populations are of a “systematically lower quality” than their middle class counterparts.
The report also indicates that children who experience multiple risk factors such as poverty and language barriers are less likely to have access to quality early childhood education. She describes children who come from “linguistically isolated households” to be at great risk. These are children who live in homes where the primary language is not English, nor is it a language that is common to the community or neighborhood. These homes become a “pocket” that is removed from the services and opportunities of the community.
Next week, I will continue to discuss the Early Math report. There is so much more to explore and think about…