Censorship is defined as the suppression of words, books, images, films, news, or ideas that are considered offensive, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security. Censorship can happen whenever people succeed in imposing their personal, political, or moral values and judgments on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government, as well as private groups, and private citizens.
Recently, the United States has been experiencing censorship by state and local governments that are issuing mandates on education and educators. The mandates address what and how educational content can be taught. Rarely are the mandates emanating from educational leaders who have the credentials and experience to refute the misinformation perpetuated by the proposed censorship. Many of the mandates carry sanctions if not followed. Most are not based in science but, instead, represent partisan political agendas.
Although aware of the censorship and sanctions being imposed across our education systems, I was surprised, saddened, and angry about a recent state mandate to censor the use of an established and foundational textbook on early childhood pedagogy. The text is a seminal curriculum guide about the scope and sequence of early childhood learning for young children with and without disabilities. The text in question is Developmentally Appropriate Practice, 4th edition, first published by the National Association of Young Children in 1987. The book provides research and practice information and suggested activities to support the developmental and individual learning needs of young children.
What is happening in the United States has repercussions for all of education, including special education. This is especially concerning for students and families who have an intersection of disability and other diverse characteristics that contribute to disparities in accessing and receiving needed support and services. Censorship and mandates of scientifically based practice are but one more barrier that families of infants and young children with disabilities must now confront as they help their children learn and reach their full potential.
Our first article by Danielle M. DuShane and SeonYeong Yu presents the results of a comprehensive literature review on preschool and childcare expulsions in the United States over the past 20 years. The review resulted in 16 studies that examined expulsion rates and the factors that influence them. These factors included predictive risks, teachers, teacher–family relationships, and interventions. Within the studies, teachers reported increased levels of stress because of a variety of factors related to the expulsion process, and inequities were found across the background characteristics of the children who were expelled from programs. Interventions aimed at improving teacher well-being were identified, and implications for future research and practice are provided.
Our next article by Melissa Gonzalez and colleagues addressed the efficacy of service delivery during the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Early Discovery program conducted a comparison of two groups of children, between the ages of 1 and 5 years, with mild developmental delays who received therapeutic interventions in person before the pandemic (n = 126 families and children) or received interventions through telehealth during the pandemic (n = 112 families and children). Significant progress was made by both groups of children on indices of language skills after treatment, though the in-person group demonstrated more improvement on expressive communication skills. The findings showed that the Early Discovery program was able to adapt service delivery during the pandemic to a telehealth platform that resulted in children's comparable developmental progress in language with children and families who received in-person service delivery.
Michael Siller, Harshini Murthy, and Sally Fuhrmeister also addressed service delivery during COVID-19. They conducted a mixed-methods study during the pandemic with four children between the ages of 4 and 5 years who attended a university-affiliated, state-funded inclusive preschool classroom for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The parents of the children were given the option of enrolling in a full distance program during first 9 weeks of the 2020–2021 school year. Synchronous whole group, small group, and individual online sessions with the children were recorded and analyzed using screen capture technology. The study examined children's attention and directed communication and included exit interviews and focus groups with parents and teachers. The results provided an analysis of the benefits and limitations of distance learning in inclusive preschool environments, and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Our next article, written by Jessica Amsbary and Harriet Able, examines family perspectives about early intervention using qualitative methodology. The authors utilized an implementation science framework when interviewing 12 families of children who had participated in early intervention and were now between the ages of 3 and 5 years. The families were asked questions about their early intervention services and methods, including parent coaching approaches, and delivery methods. The parents identified benefits of early intervention that included relationships with their interventionists, and interventions strategies used with their child. Parents also identified challenges in early intervention including the embedding of interventions into daily routines, discomfort with practicing intervention strategies, and difficulties with scheduling. Implications for research and practice in early intervention were provided.
Our last article, written by Jennifer Marshall and colleagues, describes a multiyear evaluation process used by one state as it implemented a cross-sector Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) initiative. The ECCS grants focused on the development and integration of interdisciplinary and interagency early childhood programs to foster child development, equitable access to services and supports, and family well-being. This article presented the multiple-method approach used between 2016 and 2021 by Florida to evaluate community-driven initiatives under the ECCS. Florida prioritized early childhood policies, partnerships, and practices to create an equitable early childhood system for families and young children. Recommendations are provided for systems integration implementation.
As always, I would like to thank the authors for submitting their work to IYC, and the reviewers who assisted the editorial process by offering suggestions to bring these manuscripts to publication.
—Mary Beth Bruder, PhD