The Superintendents’ Plan is made possible through strong collaborative efforts. The plan was mandated by the Nebraska Legislature (LB 585), funded through the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties, developed by the superintendents and district representatives in conjunction with the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, and endorsed unanimously by all 11 superintendents. The Buffett Institute continues to provide leadership for the implementation of the plan.
SIX BIG IDEAS
The plan reflects what research tells us about young children’s development and learning. Our work revolves around six evidence-based ideas:
Birth Through Grade 3
Although intervention at any point during the first eight years of life is helpful for children placed at risk, research teaches us that we must go beyond a single year of PreK, or even birth – 3 or birth – 5 programs, for the benefits of intervention to endure. The foundations for building children’s brain architecture, language and skill acquisition, and relationships with others are established early on but take time to reach their full potential. If we can maintain continuity through the end of third grade, children are more likely to achieve lasting success in school and beyond.
School as Hub
At the core of our plan is the idea that schools can serve as the “pivot” or center for complex learning systems, connecting children and families to resources within and beyond school walls. Schools have the potential to span conventional silos, overcome traditional barriers, and become connectors across communities and different age groupings. They can help families navigate and access early education services and community resources and become a source of long-term continuity for children and families.
We are committed to helping children negotiate the ongoing biological, neurological, psychological, and social pathways of development, through which they evolve from a newborn infant to a competent and confident third grader. Sustained learning doesn’t occur in isolated fragments. Only when skills and emerging capabilities are followed up, supported, and extended is it likely that new skills and new capacities will be acquired and become reliably present over time.
Parent and Family Support
Parents and families are key to children’s success and our most powerful allies in supporting and enhancing their children’s strengths and abilities. But families know too well the personal stress and toxicity that can accompany poverty and social inequality. Whether in home-visiting, preschool, or K – Grade 3, active family engagement and support are central to our work and to children’s growth.
Professional Growth and Support
Enhancing the skills of teachers and caregivers and those supervising and directing them is crucial. Educators equipped with research-based knowledge about children’s development and early learning can maximize effectiveness of educational experiences for children with diverse learning needs. When the ability of caregivers, teachers, and administrators to translate development research into practice is enhanced, children thrive.
Evidence assures us that the earlier we begin working with children and families placed at risk, and the more persistent, consistent, and well-designed our efforts are, the more likely it is that children will be launched on a path toward life success. It’s a long-term commitment, and one that can lead to a lifetime of accomplishment and fulfillment. Persistence of effort yields persistence of effect.