Rachel BaylyFollow

Faculty Mentor

Mary Pettenger


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Research has shown that across the United States children from low-socioeconomic backgrounds are less academically successful in K-12 schooling than their peers from high-socioeconomic backgrounds. This achievement gap starts before birth, as children’s rapid early development is affected by their environments and later by their social interactions. Through a civic engagement project, I set out to analyze and propose changes to reduce the disparities in early experiences for children from low-versus-high-socioeconomic backgrounds. My original plan for this project, a book drive, fell through the cracks, as my research revealed that the root causes of the achievement gap cannot be addressed with simple solutions. Families today need serious financial and social support. My project morphed into advocacy for large-scale change through a showing of the documentary No Small Matter. This film draws viewers’ attention to the stress and hardship that millions of families face as they navigate economic instability and the United States’ bleak childcare landscape. It focuses on the potential that is lost for children experiencing high stress at such a crucial point in development, but No Small Matter does not leave viewers feeling hopeless. It spreads the message that by taking the early childhood education crisis head on, we can unlock every child’s full potential and propel ourselves to new heights. Through a documentary showing on WOU campus, I planned to bring that message, the conversation around it, and early childhood education problem solving to the WOU community.




Political Science


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