Early Childhood Education Reports

From 1990 to 2004, the French-American Foundation organized a series of initiatives highlighting the benefits of France’s universal early childhood programs in the context of United States practices. Study tours, organized by the Foundation, enabled American experts in child care, early childhood education, and related fields, to travel to France and learn about French early childhood education and care. Past participants in this work include French-American Foundation Young Leader Hillary Rodham Clinton, Vermont Senator James Jeffords, Iowa Governor Thomas Vilsack, and Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry.

Our work has played an important and catalytic role in North Carolina, where in 1993, Governor Jim Hunt founded Smart Start, an exemplary private-public initiative supporting affordable, statewide, high quality early childhood care and education. The Foundation’s work has also received the recognition and support of major foundations and corporations—including the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Fund for Child Development—and helped improve day care regulations in Wisconsin, linked health care to child care in Pennsylvania, persuaded DuPont to create programs promoting child care quality, and influenced Texas leaders to improve early childhood education.


Equal from the Start: Promoting Educational Opportunity for All Preschool Children – Learning from the French Experience (2002)

In 2002, the Foundation began to focus on French priority education policy (known as ZEP policy for zone d’éducation prioritaire). This policy entails the investment of additional resources in schools serving disadvantaged student populations. A kind of affirmative action à la française, ZEP policy aims to “give more to those who have less” within a universal, national education system.

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Ready to Learn: The French System of Early Education and Care Offers Lessons for the United States (1999)

The French-American Foundation selected a distinguished team of 15 Americans experts on early childhood education and sent them on a study tour to France in January 1999. The team was composed of leading voices in the area of early education and key U.S. decision makers. This report provides an overview of the French preschool system and details a series of recommendations for U.S. policymakers.

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