A Moment with Dr. Moore

October 22, 2020

“The times, they are a-changin,” Bob Dylan told the world in 1964. He voiced the hopes and dreams of a decade in which women flocked into the workforce, the demand for quality child care boomed, President Johnson announced the launch of Head Start and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made massive strides for civil rights. “It was also the era in which the idea emerged for the CDA,” said Dr. Carol Day as the Council marked 45 years of the Child Development Associate credential. And she was there for 20 of those years as the Council’s first president and CEO. As part of our virtual celebration, she shared the history of a credential that is now respected worldwide.

Over 800,000 CDAs have been issued and earning the credential has been a life-changing milestone for many rising teachers. I know that because I earned my CDA in 1992. It gave me the competence to teach young children and the confidence to succeed in a mainly female field, as I observed in a recent brief on men in ECE. I caught fire as an early childhood teacher, and that fire is still burning today.

Now one of my greatest goals is to bring more men into our profession. We need to advance the conversation on this issue, so our celebration included a special session on men in ECE. Under the leadership of Dr. Ed Greene, an educational expert and one of my early mentors, the panel members discussed their entry into the ECE profession, the challenges of working in an industry led by women, the issues involved in gaining parents’ trust—and the impact of the CDA on their careers.

“The CDA was everything for me,” said Buddy Rhodes, an educational site coordinator at Campagna Center in Northern Virginia. “I’ve known I had a love for teaching since I was in high school and helped out in my mother’s third-grade classroom,” Rhodes recalled. He also knew he needed skills if he was to succeed in his chosen field. “The CDA gave me the confidence to gain my college degree and advance my career. Without the CDA, I don’t think I would be where I am today.”

The seeds of Rhodes’ current career took root when he worked with children in high school. And that’s true for many other men in ECE. One of them is Kamren Rollins, interim CEO at Sunshine Learning Center in Washington, DC. “The earlier men get connected to ECE, the better,” Rollins said. “I fell in love with ECE in high school, and I probably wouldn’t be in this field if I hadn’t connected to the profession at that time.”

Later in life, gender stereotypes tend to deter men from teaching young children, as do the lack of benefits and the low pay. So, “it’s not about the money for those who choose to teach young kids,” explained Sweat Harkins, a veteran teacher at Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity in Alabama. “It’s about making a difference in children’s lives.”

We need more men who feel this way to build a diverse early childhood workforce. And the pandemic may present a chance to attract them as it reveals the vital role that teachers play in working families’ lives. Many early childhood centers are now retooling their programs, so it’s a good time for them to rethink their recruitment tactics and find new ways to encourage more men to apply.

Conversations like this can help as we look to the future of our field. “Change is now coming at us from all sides,” said Dr. Valora Washington, who preceded me as Council CEO. “As the health crisis continues, our profession must grapple with thorny issues related to facility management, government regulations and especially funding.” But we are a resilient profession that can succeed in changing with the times.

Dylan’s anthem of hope urged people of all cultures and creeds to gather round together, as we did for this celebration. We are facing challenges, but I have a lot of hope for our profession. One of our strengths is the CDA, which has built a better future for teachers and young children worldwide. Another is the community spirit that led over 3,000 ECE professionals to register for our event. If you couldn’t attend, you can still listen to a recording featuring all our exciting speakers. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together. And I thank you all for joining me in saying, “Happy 45th anniversary, CDA.”


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