The Power of Leaders in Early Learning


After teachers, school leaders are the greatest in-school factor impacting student achievement, and depending on where a child attends pre-K (if they attend), their program could be run by either a child care center director or an elementary school principal. Setting low expectations for pre-K leaders in any setting can jeopardize the quality of children’s learning experiences.

This summer, New America’s Early and Elementary Education Policy team released the report, A Tale of Two Pre-K Leaders: How State Policies for Center Directors and Principals Leading Pre-K Programs Differ, and Why They Shouldn’t. This 50-state scan found that although child care center directors and elementary principals have similar roles and responsibilities, the qualification requirements for these positions are drastically different across state lines, and even within their own borders.

Join us for a discussion about the important role that leaders play in fostering high-quality pre-K. We'll start with a panel of leaders who will discuss their work and offer insight into their responsibilities, priorities, and challenges. Author and New America Policy Analyst Abbie Lieberman will then share findings and recommendations from the report. We’ll conclude with a panel discussion with policy and practice experts, moderated by New America’s Laura Bornfreund.

Follow the discussion on Twitter by using #PrekLeaders and following @NewAmericaEd.

A light breakfast will be served.


9:00 am-9:10 am: Welcome and introductions

9:10 am-9:40 am: Panel Discussion

Jennifer Ladner
School Director, Educare Tulsa

Pearlie Harris
Director of Royal Castle Child Development Center

Michael Budisch @headlearner
Principal, Merton Primary School


Abbie Lieberman, @AbbieLieberman
Policy Analyst, New America

9:40 am-10:00 am: Presentation on A Tale of Two Leaders

Abbie Lieberman, @AbbieLieberman
Policy Analyst, New America

10:00 am-11:00 am: Panel Discussion

Teri Talan
Michael W. Louis Chair and Senior Policy Advisor, The McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership

Kristie Kauerz
Research Assistant Professor, University of Washington

Marica Cox Mitchell
Deputy Executive Director for Early Learning Systems, National Association for the Education of Young Children


Laura Bornfreund, @LBornfreund
Director of Early & Elementary Education Policy, New America