|The Politics of childhood: The historical development of early childhood education licensing laws and regulations in New Jersey, 1946-1972|
Edna Runnels Ranck
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Pockets: Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Child welfare, children, Legal status, laws, etc, New Jersey
THE POLITICS OF CHILDHOOD: THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION LICENSING LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN NEW JERSEY, 1946-1972
Edna Runnels Ranck
In order to clarify the role of state government licensing in early childhood education programs in New Jersey, this study examined the development of regulations from 1946 to 1972. The study traced the origins of the legislation, determined the means by which to express the relationship between perceptions of childhood and conceptions of politics, and identified the functions of licensing.
Children's needs were identified within three categories: welfare, labor, and education. Institutions responsible for meeting the needs were identified. Tables of English, American, and New Jersey child-related statutes we're compiled according to category of need and level of government response. New Jersey state early education documents were analyzed. Interviews were conducted with persons familiar with New Jersey licensing and with early education regulations.
The origins of licensing legislation were traced to the ambiguous conditions inherent in a pluralistic society, which require a balance between the paradoxical values of family authority over child-rearing, and of the sovereignty of the state over society. New Jersey has never trusted the family with the sole responsibility for raising children, yet it has always feared the intrusion of the state into family concerns.
The relationship between the perceptions of childhood from which adult responses to children have emerged, and the conceptions of politics from which child-oriented policies have developed, arise from the incongruencies in government responses to children's needs that have led to conflict over the role of government in early education programs.
The paradoxical solution to the dilemma of incongruencies has been early education licensing, which functions both as a forum for change and as a structure for stability and thereby serves as a fulcrum on which conflicting views of childhood and politics converge and become resolved.
New Jersey should identify and organize all participants in the licensing process; define the roles of parents, professionals, and policymakers; gather, analyze, and disseminate information about critical issues; and develop negotiation strategies by which to focus on licensing as the means by which to resolve conflicts and to foster incremental change in order to form, expand, and improve early education programs.