A Moment with Dr. Moore

November 17, 2021

Connecting on the Road

Early learning is being noticed more than ever before. Our educators are now deemed essential. The media is doubling down on coverage of the field and exploring where it might be headed. Across the country, people with backgrounds in ECE policy, practice and research are joining panels to share their thoughts on the current state of our profession. The long-term lack of investment in the field, taxing working conditions fueled by meager wages, turnover that’s reached an alarming high and new opportunities on the horizon are all topics that have come up a lot since the start of the pandemic. And they’re still coming up as the Council hits the road during conference season this fall.

As usual, folks have been flocking to online and live events for the ECE field. They want to learn from the experts. They enjoy a sense of community as they come together. And they want to connect what speakers are saying with what’s going on in their own lives. And the communication doesn’t just go one way. As a speaker, I’ve enjoyed connecting with our early childhood teachers at recent events and discussing issues that touch a special part of my heart.

One is getting early childhood teachers to actively advocate for our field. It’s time for ECE professionals to meet the moment, as I urged in a keynote address to the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association Early Childhood Education Summit. Congress is now considering legislation that would include measures to fund universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, extend the child tax credit, increase wages for child care workers and mandate paid family leave—all measures that would move our nation ahead. If we’re going to spend money on anything, let’s spend it on our children and the adults who give them support and care.

Head Start puts everything it has toward meeting the needs of both children and their family members. I know this first hand because I served as a regional program manager for the Office of Head Start before taking on my current role as CEO of the Council. So, it was a homecoming in some ways to be the keynote speaker at the Region IV Head Start Association Early Head Start Institute in Tampa, a city where child care was hard hit by COVID. The Tampa child care industry is facing a crisis, so I tried to encourage attendees by reminding them that this is not just a job, it’s an assignment. When you’re on assignment, you’ve got to stay the course.

And one of the things that keeps us on course is our commitment to equity in education. That’s one of my greatest concerns as Council CEO. So, I was delighted to speak on equity and my hopes and dreams for African American children at the National Black Child Development Institute Virtual Conference. For more than 50 years, NBCDI has been at the forefront of engaging leaders, policymakers, professionals and parents around vital, timely issues that directly affect Black children, along with their families. But I also reflect on leaders who have come back to the Council like Michelle Brown, Council Executive Vice President of Programs, and practitioners like Amber Jones, a pre-K lead teacher who will be joining Michelle and me at the Bright Start International Conference to discuss ways to build responsive programs for young children.

Events like this also give me and my colleagues at the Council a chance to hear directly from early educators of all kinds—assistant teachers, lead teachers, program directors and more. I want to connect with you while we work together to rebuild our field. As we meet the moment, we need to invest in an ECE system that works for everyone: children, families—and our early childhood teachers.

I heard about the challenges you face when I had the privilege to speak in Tampa. Attendees told me, “If you think I’m essential, pay me a living wage,” or “It’s all right being noticed, but I’m trying to live over here.” And I know many more of you feel the same way. Your ordeals have touched me in a special part of my heart, and I want to help you overcome them. So, let’s connect in the coming months as the Council and I continue on the road.

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