On Thursday May 29th I had the pleasure of attending The Ninth Annual Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care at Wheelock College. Trying to recount all that was discussed is too large of a task for a single blog post. Instead, I want to focus on one of the event’s central themes:
Early educators must become more politically active – including partaking in some of the rougher aspects of the political process. During his speech at the event, EEC Commissioner Weber pointed out that the political game sometimes requires throwing elbows. Marie St Fleur,President and CEO of the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children, implored the audience to get loud, contact legislators and the media, and tell our personal stories and the stories of the children and families we support. Claire Higgins, Executive Director of Community Action, echoed the importance of direct advocacy to legislators and introduced the idea of a “no care day” where early educators across the state would collectively strike to demonstrate our importance to not just children and families but also employers across the state.
While we continue to teach young children not to push or grab and to use inside voices, we adults might have to politically push some people, grab our seat at the table, and get loud so we can advocate for ourselves and for the children and families we serve.
The spotlight on early education has never been brighter; however, those of us with experience in the field are often not getting a seat at the table when policies affecting us are being created. Engaging more early educators in advocacy will not be a quick and easy process. As a few of the speakers pointed out, it is the nature of our jobs to help children resolve conflicts peacefully – and we may not be as politically aggressive as we need to be. Unfortunately, the political arena can be less mature than a preschool classroom, so using polite peaceful words may not be enough to enact change. While we continue to teach young children not to push or grab and to use inside voices, we adults might have to politically push some people, grab our seat at the table, and get loud so we can advocate for ourselves and for the children and families we serve.
Are you an early educator? Consider taking the following steps to become more politically involved:
- Go to the Strategies For Children Early Education For All website and sign up for their news and campaigns.
- Find your state legislators to set up meetings, call their office, email, tweet, or facebook message them.
- Share your personal stories and the statistics that support ECE on blogs and social networks.
Teddy has worked for over 10 years as a Pre-K Teacher at the non-profit Transportation Children Center in Boston. He also works as an adjunct professor in the Early Childhood Education Departments of Fisher College and Bay State College. He obtained his Master’s in Education from The Harvard Graduate School of Education with a concentration in Language and Literacy, a Bachelor’s degree from UMass Boston in Sociology, and an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Bay State College. You most likely will find him biking along the Charles River or watching the Red Sox.