Council Letter

December 15, 2021

As this year comes to a close…

Dear Colleagues,

“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage,” said former First Lady Michelle Obama. “Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages”—words that sum it all up for our field this year. The increased stress of teaching during COVID tested our sense of commitment as the pandemic lingered on. Yet many of us came through by taking more safety measures as in-person learning resumed—and became heroes in the process. Child care is now a hot topic as news outlets point out how crucial it is to the economy and working families.

That’s good cause to rejoice as we start the holiday season this year. We all observe the occasion in different ways. And many indigenous people mark the winter solstice, the year’s shortest day, with dances, games and community events that honor nature. It’s important to keep such traditions alive, according to Puhala Kamalamalama, a Native Hawaiian educator we profile this month. Learn how she helps native children feel proud of their past and value who they are so they can go on to have productive lives. Then turn to our story on Gina Pope, an Alaskan Native who serves as a developmental specialist, PD Specialist and member of our CDA Advisory Committee. Gina ventures where few would dare go as she travels by snowmobile, small plane and boat to assess educators and support children in the remote reaches of rural Alaska.

Educators also made their own trips from places countrywide to be at the Council’s Early Educators Leadership Conference this fall. It was a time for “Resilience, Renewal and Reform,” the theme of our recent yearly meeting. Attendees gained tips and tools to improve their practice in the classroom. They also recommitted to equity in education while hearing from our inspiring speakers. Get a taste of what took place while listening to Stephen Zwolak explain how to embed equity, diversity and inclusion in our early childhood programs and Dr. Marquita Davis describe ways to ensure every child has access to quality early learning.

A big step toward the goal of pre-K for all would be the passage of the Build Back Better Act, now before the U.S. Senate. It’s an opportunity that comes with obstacles since this bold plan demands 40,000 more early childhood teachers at a time when their ranks are thin. So, how can we find so many more of the qualified teachers we’ll require? Dr. Calvin E. Moore’s blog offers answers that include lending support to high school CDA programs, as Sandy Spavone has done, and steering more college students toward a field that needs their presence and perspectives.

Our profession also needs your insights on ways to serve young children better. Learn how to speak out for them by reading our new white paper on advocacy in ECE. Lawmakers, as you’ll see, are now more open to our pleas because gaps in child care have led to a dramatic drop in women’s employment. There’s also more commitment to our cause in the White House, where the champions of ECE include current First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. She’s convinced “the responsibility for educating a young person is a responsibility that belongs to all.” And that’s a message we must keep putting across to the public. So, turn the adversities you’ve braved to your advantage at this momentous time. As educators, you are the best advocates for the children and families you serve.

Looking forward to serving you next year,
The Council for Professional Recognition

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