Early Childhood Education is in Big Trouble
Click on the link to tune into our podcast on SoundCloud, or read below to find out about what we need to be doing in our cities, states, and at the federal level for early childhood education.
Covering my trip to DC could be a challenge. I could write ten posts about my time there, so for my initial post, I will begin with the end in mind (that one is for the Stephen Covey fans).
Early Childhood Education is in big trouble. Formulation of a united professional language, an inclusive environment for all providers, and practical, actionable solutions for our biggest challenges are necessary to achieving our higher goals.
Small communities: In our cities, we should start reaching out to each other to form alliances, and to provide more professional development opportunities for leaders and staff. It is also our responsibility in a community like Rapid City to reach out to providers in surrounding rural communities to help share resources. Early childhood education leaders need to raise the standard for how we are running our businesses, who we are hiring, and how we are training our staff. We also need to form a common language and make sure everyone on staff uses it. If anyone calls you or anyone on staff a babysitter, correct them!
State-wide: There are several levels of “us” vs “them” in South Dakota. In our state it is necessary to respect that our early childhood educators are diverse. The mistrust and lack of communication between centers vs registered in-home family daycare vs school district vs Headstart, instructors with CDAs vs bachelor’s degree vs the professors at our universities has got to stop. Don’t get me started on east river vs west river. Our divisions must end if we are ever going to raise standards and move forward. Licensed child care centers are in the minority, most our children attend registered in home family daycare. Registered in home family daycare needs to be recognized for their contribution to our communities, and acknowledged as our parent’s “top choice.” Leaders from registered in home family daycare need to be at the table of our statewide discussions about quality. And mentioning discussions, there are many groups forming in South Dakota to discuss the issues of early childhood education. The positive: There’s a surge of people becoming engaged and connecting. The negative: We really need strong leadership, equal representation, and logical strategies to be implemented. Our unity is imperative or we will not be effective.
Federally: It is imperative that early childhood education have consistent, quality representation at the federal level. This is not something that should be brushed off for a couple of years. We also need to be meeting with local legislators and the offices of United States legislators throughout the year, so our initial contact with them isn’t suddenly when a new bill is on the table and we want to get our way. National early childhood education associations are not concerned with what is going on in South Dakota. We are so deficient, they can’t even comprehend the items they’re proposing for early childhood education are nearly completely out of reach. We must speak up and let them know or we will be left even further behind.
Professional implementation is fundamental to early childhood education’s success. Respectful connections with others is the only way we are going to move forward. We must collaborate with each other, with our communities, and with our leaders. Anything less will only undermine our efforts and continue to hold us back.
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