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Education Policy Fellowship Program

Early Childhood: How and Why it has Become a Hot Policy

March 17, 2014
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Kellogg Center, MSU

Purpose: Through this session, participants will recognize the increased focus Early Childhood Education is receiving in terms of policy and investment of resources.  An understanding will also be developed of the multiplicity of factors and the many voices that have influenced this increased visibility.  The session will include presentations from, and discussions with, a series of panelists speaking on considerations at national, state, and local levels.  The information presented will assist participants in examining how the increased visibility of Early Childhood Education has led to increased scrutiny and the field’s response to that scrutiny.  Additionally, these discussions will examine opportunities and barriers impacting the field of Early Childhood Education and its ability to achieve the greatest potential for children and families.  Finally, participants will gain an appreciation for the far-reaching impact policy decisions regarding Early Childhood Education have not only for children and families, but for society as a whole. 


9:00AM - 9:10AM Welcome and Introduction
9:10AM - 10:00AM  Panel 1: National Viewpoint/Context/Framing/Catalyst
10:00AM – 10:10AM: Break
10:10AM – 10:20AM:   Transition to Panel 2
10:20AM – 11:10AM: Panel 2: State Viewpoint
11:10AM – 11:20AM: Transition to Panel 3
11:20AM – 11:45AM: Panel 3: Local/Parent Viewpoint
11:45AM – 12:00PM: Wrap-up

Speaker Biographies

Peter Pratt, Public Sector Consulting

Peter Pratt is president of Public Sector Consultants. In this role, he oversees strategy and human resources for the firm and its clients.  He also manages health care and human services consulting services, conducts research and writes policy reports and program evaluations, facilitates coalitions, conducts focus groups, and provides strategic policy counsel to nonprofit health and human services organizations. 

Mr. Pratt has worked extensively with diverse stakeholders to forge consensus policy solutions on issues such as early childhood education and care, quality improvement and cost containment, expanding coverage to the uninsured, oral health, and health care workforce development. In these initiatives, he and his colleagues at PSC combine research and subject matter expertise with adept facilitation to move groups toward agreement on priorities. In recent years, he has managed large-scale, transformational regional and statewide public engagement efforts for the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Center for Michigan. He has been with the company since 1986.



Mr. Pratt is a frequent speaker and writer on a broad range of health care policy topics, including national health care reform. Before joining PSC, he taught at Michigan State University. He attended the University of Michigan, earning a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D., in English and winning a Hopwood Award for creative writing.



Ron French, Bridge Magazine/The Center for Michigan

Ron French is senior writer at Bridge Magazine (, an online publication focusing on policy issues affecting Michigan. French won more than 60 state and national journalism awards, most recently at The Detroit News, before joining Bridge in 2011. In 2012, French wrote a series of articles chronicling Michigan’s inadequate funding for the Great Start Readiness Program, titled “Michigan’s Forgotten Four-Year-Olds.”



Nancy Peeler, Michigan Department of Community Health

Nancy Peeler is the Manager of the Child Health Unit at the Michigan Department of Community Health, which houses programs such as childhood lead poisoning prevention, home visiting, and early childhood system building efforts including LAUNCH, Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems, and the health component of Michigan’s Race to the Top grant.  Nancy earned her Bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College, and her Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, focusing on Human Development and Psychology.  She has 30 years of experience in the field of early childhood as a parent and as a professional, with a broad range of experience in advocacy, research, direct service provision, and program administration.  Nancy works collaboratively with programs and staff across MDCH and in other state and local agencies and organizations to improve systems and achieve better outcomes for children and families.


Alan Oman, Washtenaw Intermediate School District

Alan joined Washtenaw Intermediate School District in July, 2012 as the Executive Director of the ISD’s new Early Childhood Department.  Prior to moving to Washtenaw, Alan was the Director of Early Childhood and Family Services for the Midland County Educational Service Agency and also served in a dual role supporting the early childhood programs for Clare-Gladwin Regional Educational Service District.

Alan has worked for Intermediate School Districts for the last nine years.  His previous experiences include 23 years working for community-based non-profit organizations.  His last role with a non-profit was as Executive Director of a Family Center that included licensed childcare and preschool, before and after-school programming, comprehensive family and social service programs and an older adult meal center.  Alan has worked with the state’s Great Start Readiness Program preschool initiative in one form or another for over 20 years.


Since joining Washtenaw ISD in 2012, the ISD has become the Head Start grantee for Washtenaw County and the district has managed a doubling in size of the County’s Great Start Readiness Programs.




Jeremy Reuter, Michigan Department of Education


Jeremy Reuter currently serves as the Special Assistant to the Deputy Superintendent/Office of Great Start at the Michigan Department of Education.  Prior to stepping into his current position he was the Director of Head Start State Collaboration also at the Michigan Department of Education.  In that position he facilitated collaboration between Head Start and Early Head Start agencies and entities that carry out activities designed to benefit low-income children from birth to school entry and their families.  Jeremy has also worked on behalf of children and families as the T.E.A.C.H. Program Director at Michigan 4C Association.  In that role he was Primarily responsible for implementing and operating the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood ® MICHIGAN program in a manner consistent with the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood ® license, and established policies, procedures, and funding agreements of the Michigan 4C Association. Early in his career Jeremy served as an intern at the Institute for Children, Youth, and Families.  Jeremy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Family Community Services and a Master of Arts in Family Studies, both from Michigan State University. 



Learning Team Members:

Jayme Kraus

Emily Laidlaw

Colleen O'Connor

Jeanne Anderson Tippett


Resource Material


The Top Ten List for Why the Expansion of High-Quality Early Learning is Inevitable (Remarks of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the National Governors Association Winter 2014) 


How Preschool Got Hot _r=0


An issue for our time . . . at last!  Who's talking about early childhood?  Turns out . . . lots of Americans coast-to-coast 


Key research studies on early learning effectiveness 


The Ounce 


Sandbox Party 


Voices for Michigan’s Children 


Zero to Three:  National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families 


Early Childhood Education For a New Era:  Leading For Our Profession, Stacie G. Goffin, 2013 Teachers College Press 

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