A Moment with Dr. Moore: A Core Conviction for the Coming Year

December 16, 2020

This has been a year of hope and heartache. As we say goodbye to 2020, we should remember the challenges we’ve faced and lessons we’ve learned. We’ve watched as COVID-19 went from something that affected others to seeing it change nearly every aspect of our own lives. The virus had just begun to hit our own industry hard when I came onboard the Council as CEO. I took this role on because I’m a CDA holder who believes in the value of the credential. I’m also dedicated to you, the early childhood educators we serve. So, I share your pain at the hard truths that the deadly virus has delivered.

COVID-19 has worsened the financial woes of a field that was already underfunded. Average enrollment rates have dropped from 88 percent to 59 percent in just one year. New safety regulations have made it more costly to run our child care settings, and 64 percent of providers don’t have enough staff. Teachers are quitting the classroom out of health concerns or the need to take care of children of their own.

Many young learners—especially children of color—are going without the early care and education they need. And their plight is especially poignant in a year that witnessed the killing of George Floyd. The eruption of protests across the country put the spotlight on the need for a higher standard of justice and inclusion for all.

Floyd’s demise was a dramatic low point in a dark time where we’ve seen the virus take many thousands of lives. We also mourned the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Congressman John Lewis, an eloquent crusader for civil rights. Lewis knew that “darkness cannot overcome darkness, only light can do that.” So, it’s good to see that there have been some bright spots in this gloomy year. The pandemic has made the public pay attention to our heroes of the early childhood classroom. There’s more recognition of the key role they play in our country’s economy by allowing families to work. And special kudos have gone out to those who carried on with their jobs despite the risks involved.

We should also extend congratulations for the way they’ve adapted to fill the needs of the families they serve. As our child care providers forge on, they’ve found new ways to connect with parents and continue to help young children learn. For example, 39 percent of providers have started offering remote programming, and 38 percent plan to keep on doing so even after things return to normal.

Life probably won’t go back to the way it was until well into 2021, when the vaccine has successfully rolled out. By then, we’ll have new national leadership that holds potential for the future of our field. President-Elect Joe Biden is the first candidate to win the presidency with the stated goal of universal pre-K for all three- and four-year-old children. Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris shares his commitment to child care for all and has called education “a fundamental right.” In addition, future First Lady Dr. Jill Biden has been an educator for more than three decades and has advocated for those who work in the field.

Dr. Biden has said, “Teaching is not what I do. It is who I am.” And I can identify closely with her words because I feel that I’m a teacher at my core. I also have the core conviction that the future holds much promise for you all: our country’s committed early childhood teachers. “You are the light,” as Rep. Lewis once said. And I urge you to follow his advice: “Never let anyone—any person or any force—dampen, dim or diminish your light.” We must persevere despite the tremendous toll the pandemic has taken on our profession. We must be guided by our hopes—not our heartache and our hurts—as we go into the coming year.

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