A Moment with Dr. Moore

March 27, 2024

Endless Prospects for the CDA®

“Our mission in life should be to make a positive difference,” wrote Peter Drucker, a world-renowned management guru. The Council believed Drucker was right, and we showed it in our first mission statement from 1985. “The Council for Professional Recognition promotes improved performance and recognition of professionals in the early childhood education of children ages birth to 5 years old,” something we’ve strived to do from the start. And we expressed our long-term aim in our first vision statement: “The Council works to ensure that all professional early childhood educators and caregivers meet the developmental, emotional and educational needs of our nation’s youngest children,” still a valid goal. But in 2024, it doesn’t go far enough.

The early learning landscape has changed since the Council’s early days, so this month we issued new mission and vision statements. According to our new mission statement, “The Council for Professional Recognition advances career pathways for early childhood educators through high-quality, competency-based credentialing.” And this mission serves an ambitious goal, as shown by our new vision statement: “The Council for Professional Recognition envisions a society where all children learn and thrive in environments led by competent, valued early childhood educators.”

These revisions to the words we use in our mission and vision statements reflect the advent of new research and regulations, policies and practices for serving children best. In recent decades, brain science has proved the value of quality early learning for “all children to thrive,” as we say in our new vision statement. And this is a broad goal that will shape our whole “society” for decades ahead. But it won’t come about unless the Council fulfills its mission to provide young learners with the competent teachers they need, and that’s the challenge. Educators are in short supply since COVID led them to join other fields, leading to a child care crisis. Educators now look for more than “improved performance and recognition.” They want the prospect of “career pathways” if they’re going to enter or return to the early learning field.

We know what our educators want and need because we’ve been listening and learning from them as part of our effort to reimagine the CDA credentialing process. We received feedback from thousands of CDA stakeholders, including CDA candidates and holders, PD Specialists, and staff in the state and federal sectors. We wanted to align our mission and vision statements with what we’re hearing from those in the field. And their feedback has also shaped our business strategy for making a future impact through positive change.

Our business is competency-based credentialing, but the use of the word “business” shouldn’t mean we’re all about the profits we earn from awarding CDAs. And Peter Drucker passed on this lesson in 1993 when he wrote an article on “The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization.” He emphasized that a mission statement must be clear, concise and inspire every board member, staff person and volunteer to see the mission and say, “Yes, this is something I want to be remembered for.” Drucker also believed that mission statements shouldn’t stress net income but must “express the contribution the enterprise plans to make to society, to the economy and to the customer.” And organizations have increasingly embraced his advice by thinking more about their social goals.

Consider Facebook’s reasons for changing its first mission statement: “To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” It had a flaw, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would admit in 2017 when he announced a new mission statement: “To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” They were words that conveyed a stronger sense of purpose, as Zuckerberg would explain. “I used to think that if we help some people connect that would make the world better by itself. Yet our society is still so divided that we must do more to bring the world closer together.”

The goal of the change in Facebook’s mission, Zuckerberg said, was to “create a world in which every person has a sense of purpose”—a bold vision. And Microsoft also aimed high when it changed its mission statement in 2015. Microsoft’s previous mission was to “create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe for the activities they value most”—but it didn’t have the same zing as the software maker’s 2015 mission “to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

The desire to do more also inspired outdoor gear maker Patagonia to change its mission statement in 2019. Its previous mission statement from the nineties was to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” And it was groundbreaking at the time for a company to say that it wanted to cause the environment no unneeded harm. Still, as the climate crisis grew worse, Patagonia ramped up its goal from doing less harm to doing more good. And the company expressed this aim in its new mission statement: “We’re in business to save our home planet.”

Patagonia’s new mission reflected the values of its founder, Yves Chouinard, who brought his purpose to life in 1986 by pledging 1 percent of sales to the environment’s preservation or restoration. And in 2022, he divested control over his company to a trust and future profits to an environmental nonprofit, something no other U.S. billionaire had ever done. But Chouinard had a higher purpose than the bottom line. “Profit,” he believed, “is what happens when you do everything else right.”

Chouinard brought his personal goals to work to make a positive impact, and I’ve tried to do the same in my own way as Council CEO. My individual journey to my current role also has some parallels to the change in the Council’s mission and vision statements. I earned my CDA as a young man so I could improve my classroom performance and gain recognition from my peers in the classroom and from the parents I served. I worked hard to meet the developmental, emotional and educational needs of my classes in Birmingham, Alabama, as a young teacher for Head Start. Still, I wanted to do more to serve society and my field.

My sense of mission and vision expanded as I climbed the career ladder, holding several high-profile positions in early learning administration before becoming Council CEO in 2021. Since then, I have strived to empower our early childhood teachers so they can give all children the opportunities that they deserve to thrive. Now the ongoing child care crisis gives Council staff and me a responsibility to do even more, so I have seized a seminal moment to offer our new mission and vision statements.

We recently awarded our millionth CDA to Jada Vargas of Arizona, and there’s a big market for more like her as we rebuild our field after the pandemic. The ongoing growth of our valued credential has led the Council to see endless prospects ahead for our organization and the CDA. Our collective sense of commitment is playing a pivotal role in shaping a future where every child learns under the guidance of competent, qualified early childhood teachers. The million CDAs who already work in early childhood settings nationwide make me believe we can achieve our hopes and dreams. So, I want to do everything right for them. These CDA holders are my purpose brought to life, and they can make a positive difference for young children.


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