Letter from the Chair - July 31, 2012

For every project, it is important that time is taken at periodic moments to reflect on progress, think of accomplishments, and give thanks to those that have contributed to success. As we enter the last month of the Fiscal Year 2012, the Council has had a great number of thanks to pass out.  Most importantly, we are very thankful for the early care and education community in Texas.  Amazing attention and support has been given to our project, which has helped us get the word out about important events, solicit critical feedback, and incorporate stakeholders into many of our projects.  Some of the amazing outreach success we have had this year include expanding our listserv from 900 to 1200 email address, doubling our social media followers, and speaking at 16 different early care and education events.  For those of you that have helped spread the word about the Council, its work, and its needs, your support is greatly valued and we are very grateful.

We also need to specifically thank and commend our volunteer stakeholders, who have worked so hard to contribute to Council projects.  The Council has called on many members of the early childhood community in the state to work with us on critical projects like new Infant and Toddler Early Learning Guidelines, new Core Competencies for early childhood professionals, designing early childhood data systems, building a new online standards and accreditations comparison tool, designing a new professional development system, and creating recommendations related to a Quality Rating and Improvement System for the state.  For each of these projects, groups of stakeholders ranging from 3 to 100 have come together to discuss, plan, and in many cases carry out Council projects and initiatives.  From participating in focus groups to researching best practices, our stakeholder volunteers have supplied much needed passion and expertise to ensure that our projects will be successful.

Next, I need to personally thank my fellow Council Members for their efforts, time, and commitment to this process.  All of the members are appointed by Governor Perry, and they all have full-time jobs. Many of the representatives from Texas agencies sit on multiple Councils and Commissions, in addition to the Texas Early Learning Council.  The amount of focus and effort we ask of our Council Members is extremely high, and time and time again they take the steps needed to work through very difficult issues, choices, and decisions.  This is a great group of leaders, that is really moving the state in new and exciting directions related to early care and education.  This year alone, the Council members have worked through compromises related to funding projects, making recommendations, and responding to problems.

Finally, the Council is very appreciative of the time, effort, and dedication the Council staff has provided over the last two years.  Our staff has guided us through many important milestones, and each individual has leveraged their own expertise and knowledge in unique ways to get the job done.  Not only do we have great staff, but also at key moments, supporting staff from other projects at the Children's Learning Institute have contributed hours and efforts to Council projects.  The Texas Head Start State Collaboration Office, for example works daily with Council staff on workforce and professional development projects.  Also, key researchers at CLI have reviewed and provided feedback on RFPs, deliverables, and other projects for the Council, while other researchers have participated in the authorship of key documents such as the draft Infant and Toddler Early Learning Guidelines and the draft Core Competencies for early childhood professionals.

The Texas Early Learning Council has benefited tremendously from the participation and efforts of many, many people.  We are grateful for the contributions of each individual.


John W. Gasko, Ph.D.

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