Child educators and advocates gather in Tampa
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07/18/07 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

A conference bringing together 1,000 early education and care providers and leaders from around Florida began this afternoon at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Tampa.

The theme of the One Goal Summer Conference was Building the Future Together, Putting Families and Children First.

Today’s keynote speaker was Barbara Mainster, the executive director of the Redlands Christian Migrant Association, based in Immokalee, Florida. Mainster discussed best practices in the field of early education. She told the overflowing crowd that those who educate young children should call themselves “developers” of young minds.

“You’re going to call yourselves something different from now on. We are developers. …”

Mainster said testing and accountability are becoming buzzwords that negatively affect early childhood teaching.

Teaching children more than one language should be a priority for Florida, according to Mainster, who showed videos of immigrant students who were conversant in both Spanish and English.

She compared children to flowers. One bouquet, representing the past, contained nearly all the same type of flower; a second bouquet of many different types of flowers represents the present and the future. She also said the over-reliance on testing today means that other measures of assessment, like children’s brain development, are being overlooked.

One of the organizers of the conference is Dr. Pamela Phelps, an early childhood educator. She told WMNF that the purpose of the conference was to bring together people and state agencies that work for children and their families.

The One Goal Summer Conference continues on Thursday and Friday. To learn more, visit the website onegoalsummerconference.org or call (850) 893-6270.

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Redlands Christian Migrant Association, Immokalee, Florida

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