A discussion with Dr. Calvin E. Moore Jr. about the new report, “Broader, Deeper, Fairer: Five Strategies to Radically Expand the Talent Pool in Early Education”

January 19, 2021

Recently the National Head Start Association, the HeadStarter Network and Bellwether Education Partners released a report that explores early childhood educators’ preparation and provides recommendations for the community to consider.

Dr. Calvin E. Moore Jr., CEO of the Council for Professional Recognition, shared his thoughts about the new report and hopes that this will spark conversation and action among education leaders and policymakers.

The “Broader, Deeper, Fairer” report comes at a time when the critical role that early childhood educators have always fulfilled is now becoming clear to many communities and policymakers. What are your key takeaways from the report? And what opportunities do you see for the ECE sector?

This report comes at a crucial time. When the pandemic took hold of our country, those outside of the early childhood education (ECE) community saw what we have known for years and years—that our early childhood educators are essential and are contributing significantly to our society. Not only are they crucial for keeping our economy going, but they are among our children’s first teachers.

It is a very good time for all of us to pause, reflect and think about how we might reimagine the ECE workforce. The sector needs to examine where there are gaps in services, how we can better support our early childhood workforce and how we can better finance the workforce.

The report is provocative and could generate some interesting ideas about how to best support our workforce of educators. I think some key takeaways include capitalizing on the national conversation about early childhood educators and thinking about how to best support, retain and recruit a more diverse workforce.

The report highlights the need for diversity and equity in the early childhood workforce. Since you arrived at the Council, you have talked about the organization’s efforts around this. Can you talk more about this work?

We are currently partnering with the Children’s Equity Project with the goal of making sure that our credentialing process has an equity lens embedded within it. The goal of our work together is to increase the knowledge, awareness and understanding of early educators on issues of equity, bias, and systemic racism as an important and necessary step to improving the learning conditions of young children of color and other children from historically marginalized communities. We want every aspect of our credentialing process to reflect the diversity in the field.

Given the fact that the Child Development Associate® (CDA) credential is the flagship credential for early childhood education, can you talk about how earning the credential improves educator practice?

The CDA is the most widely recognized and accepted early childhood education credential. It is a competency-based credential that I believe anyone working with young children should earn. It is crucial for educators to learn and understand this set of time-tested, research-based tools.

As a CDA holder myself, I will tell you that this was the most impactful credential I have earned. It led me down a career path and gave me the confidence to work with young children.

In this global pandemic, educators have learned to use their skills in social-emotional learning, safety, wellness and more in new and different ways. While no one could have ever guessed we would be where we are today, CDAs are equipped with the knowledge and skills to engage with young children to navigate through these challenging times.

As highlighted in the report, the CDA is the most commonly pursued credential. Currently, more than 20 states have requirements for early educators that include the CDA. I would like to see all 50 states integrate CDA requirements for early educators.

The report talks about the importance of involving educators in preparation models. Can you talk about how the Council involves educators?

The credentialing process is candidate-focused, and the voice of the candidate is respected and recognized throughout the process. We engage with every candidate and work to understand their perspective, whether on a candidate survey or questions we ask throughout the process. There is a reflective dialogue we have with each candidate.

We recently created the CDA Advisory Committee to gather an even deeper understanding from the field. These individuals share insights, perspectives, and best practices. The group originally came together in response to the COVID-19 health crisis, but the members have been an invaluable resource to the Council.

What’s next for the Council?

With the CDA’s 45th anniversary now in the rearview mirror, we want to work collaboratively with like-minded organizations to identify ways to make the CDA even better and support all our early childhood educators. It is my hope that our efforts will be in concert with the National Head Start Association and others in our field, but I would also include efforts like Power to the Profession and the Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Education Profession. We must work together like a symphony to achieve what we know is best for our workforce and the children and families they serve.

 

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