Straus Center for Young Children & Families

Our Work

The Straus Center exists to advance Bank Street College’s Mission & Credo through applied research and translational scholarship. This stance is in keeping with the College’s first principle of using research to inform teaching practice, policy practice, and justice-centered social reform. Our approach is based on the three core activities and associated guiding questions below.

  • Participatory, Equity-Focused Research

    What is the progressive early childhood education of the 21st century and importantly, what are its effects?

    The Straus Center pursues this question with the following stances:

    • Science is not neutral: We must critically reflect upon the historical role science has played in constructing race, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, age, and associated social inequities.
    • Participation matters: Research has traditionally treated children, parents, and teachers as objects of study. In order to rectify the silencing of their perspectives and experiences in the research literature, we will strive for their maximum feasible participation in research projects. 
    • Research methods are non-binary: Social scientific paradigm wars about what data and methods are a priori more rigorous are anti-scientific; ignore the value of methodological pluralism; and stifle the scientific community’s potential to help address the vexing social problems affecting children, families, and educators.  
  • Ground-Up Policy Analyses

    What should decision-makers know about how policies are affecting young children, families, schools, and communities?

    While policy analyses that consider outcomes and cost-benefits are important, how policies are implemented and navigated on the ground are a missing component of policy improvement efforts.

  • Synthesizing and Promoting Research-Based Practices

    What is the field already doing that is supported by evidence and what new approaches should be incorporated into educators’ toolboxes? 

  • Current Projects

    Racial and Gender Equity for Young Children with Disabilities in New York City: A Mixed-Methods Investigation of Disparities in New York City Preschool Program Ecologies
    Principal Investigator: Sarika Gupta
    Co-investigators: Natasha Strassfeld (University of Texas, Austin) and Gregory Cheatham (University of Kansas)
    May 2021­–May 2023

    This mixed-methods project examines the role of New York City’s program ecologies in supporting early childhood professionals’ 1) equitable referrals to preschool special education, 2) their use of high-quality inclusive practices, and 3) their understanding of families’ experiences with preschool special education systems.

    Improving Dual Language Teaching for Spanish Speakers: Evaluating a Professional Learning System That Elevates Latina Teacher Voices
    Principal Investigator: Alexandra Figueras-Daniel
    April 2021­–April 2023

    This project employs a mixed-methods design with the dual purposes of using data collection to both understand Latina teachers of dual language learners’ teaching practices as well as prompt their reflection on specific pedagogical practices in three specific ways: 1) engaging teachers in conversations about the existing system of Professional Learning focused on supports for Dual Language Learners (DLLs); 2) training a sample of teachers and coaches to use the Self Evaluation of Supports for Emergent Bilingual Acquisition (SESEBA) system and to examine its ability to guide teachers and coaches in their practice with DLLs; and 3) examining change among various teacher groups relative to DLL supports with use of a domain-specific, standardized classroom observation tool, the Classroom Assessment of Supports for Emergent Bilingual Acquisition (CASEBA).

    Listening to Teachers: Towards a More Equitable ECE System in NYC
    Co-Principal Investigators: Mark Nagasawa & Alexandra Figueras-Daniel
    April 2021–April 2022

    This is a multiphase, mixed-methods follow-up study on a survey of New York’s early care and education (ECE) workforce conducted in May 2020. Its broad purposes are to 1) understand how New York City’s ECE professionals are faring more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and 2) draw lessons from their experiences—statistically and phenomenologically—to inform decisions about what a more equitable post-pandemic ECE system can and should look like.

    Emotionally Responsive Practices & COVID-19: A Phenomenological Evaluation
    Principal Investigator: Mark Nagasawa
    May 2021–May 2022

    This interview-based evaluation study in collaboration with Bank Street’s Center for Emotionally Responsive Practice (ERP) asks about the role of developmentally guided, emotionally attuned professional learning in helping teachers adapt to the shifting demands presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.