Early Childhood Education
The Bank Street College of Education was founded in 1916 and is considered a leader in child-centered education in the United States. Its mission is to discover the environments in which children can grow and learn to their full potential and to encourage teachers and others to create these environments. Founded by Lucy Sprague Mitchell and first known as the Bureau of Educational Experiments, Bank Street has continued to reflect the vision and practice of progressive theorists, educators, and social reformers who believe that we can build a better society through education.
Over the years, Bank Street’s education philosophy has been most frequently called either “the Bank Street approach” or the “developmental-interaction approach.” Although this approach is not unique to Bank Street, the college has been putting the theory behind it into practice for almost 90 years.
The College today comprises an independent, fully accredited Graduate School of Education, serving over 900 students and offering master’s degrees in a variety of educational programs; a Division of Children’s Programs consisting of a Family Center (a model child-care program for infants, toddlers, and preschool children, as well as a home-based program for 50 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers), a School for Children (serving over 500 students and consisting of a pre-K through 8 demonstration school), and a Head Start program, among others; and a Division of Continuing Education, which offers short-term courses, certificate programs, and staff development to educators and others, as well as direct service programs to children and young adults; major outreach programs, such as New Beginnings, a project to restructure early childhood education in the Newark Public Schools; and the Center for Universal PreKindergarten, which supports educators, improves the quality of Pre-K programs, and, most importantly, achieves positive outcomes for children. Bank Street develops projects, often in conjunction with other educational institutions and communities that address issues arising from the emerging needs of children and families, ranging from literacy to kith and kin care to the introduction of new technologies into the classroom.
Bank Street also has a publications and media group, which publishes books and multimedia materials that over the years have included critically acclaimed and prize-winning products such as The Voyage of the Mimi TV series, the Bank Street Readers series, and the seventy-two-book Ready-to-Read series. Recent collaborations include Jojo’s Circus, a preschool interactive television show; prekindergarten and kindergarten educational materials and teacher curriculum guides. Bank Street also has a Bookstore, which is recognized as New York’s best source of material for and about children.
Today Bank Street is one of five institutions of teacher preparation designated as a national resource center for educators by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. It is also one of three graduate U.S. teacher-preparation programs to be hailed as exemplary by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. In the spring of 2002, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education accredited Bank Street College of Education at the initial teacher preparation and advanced preparation levels. In 2002, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, in partnership with the Annenberg, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations, selected Bank Street for its ambitious reform initiative, Teachers for a New Era. This project is designed to stimulate construction of excellent teacher preparation programs at selected U.S. colleges and universities.
In today’s increasingly technological and multicultural world, Lucy Sprague Mitchell’s words and actions continue to inspire us as we seek ways to preserve and strengthen our work in response to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. For more information on Bank Street, visit www.bankstreet.edu. See also Preschool/Prekindergarten Programs.
Maria Benejan and Toni Porter