Lisa Guernsey

Lisa Guernsey is the director of the Early Education Initiative at the New America Foundation and the editor of

Recent Articles

China Goes Big

Can the country go big for every three-year-old child?

American politicians reveal their nervousness about China whenever they bash the country’s investments around the world or mention Beijing’s smog. China’s efforts to expand preschool may make them even more anxious. The Ministry of Education aims for every child to have access to what the Chinese call “kindergarten”—three years of pre-primary school starting at age three—by 2020. China’s efforts were the subject of a November event at the Brookings Institution that featured former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong. The two women discussed their conviction that childhood investments are critical to a country’s long-term success. “Despite different national conditions,” Liu said, “China and the United States share the vision and goal of giving priority to children and promoting social fairness, and there is broad space for boosting our cooperation in this field.”...

A Place for Play

Why reading programs must combine playful learning with direct instruction

When the latest scores of our country's national reading test arrived this spring, they were as depressing as usual: Two-thirds of American fourth-graders, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, cannot read at grade level. Among Hispanic and African American children, it's even higher. Considering the consequences of growing up as a struggling reader, you might assume that the solution is to help children build better reading skills as soon as possible. Research shows that the earlier specialists intervene, the more likely children will surmount reading difficulties. Surely, early -- literacy instruction is a good solution. What could be controversial about that? Plenty. Debates over when to teach children to read -- and how to do it -- are now afire around the country. As reading skills are taught at younger ages, child-development experts increasingly worry about the new look and feel of classrooms for 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old children. They see children...