Council Letter

June 26, 2024

Dear Colleagues,

We need inclusive education to build an inclusive world—a message for our field to keep in mind as we mark Helen Keller Day this month. Her story has reached millions in The Miracle Worker, a play by William Gibson and the title of the award-winning movie that it inspired. They show how Keller surmounted blindness and deafness to become a Radcliffe grad, civil rights activist and symbol of what children can achieve, no matter what roadblocks they face. That’s the goal of inclusive education, where children with disabilities learn together with their nondisabled peers. And inclusive classrooms benefit all children, as extensive research shows. Children with disabilities tend to score higher on tests and have better language skills when they learn in inclusive settings. Meanwhile, nondisabled children gain empathy and come to see that we are all different, but we are all the same.

Our teachers’ basic goals for all children should also be the same, as Keller pointed out. “Education should train the child to use his brains, make for himself a place in the world and maintain his rights even when it seems that society would shove him into the scrapheap.” Yet too many young children, both those with disabilities and those without, are excluded from the benefits that quality early learning can provide all children. That depends on qualified early childhood teachers, who are now in short supply. So, we’re glad to report that the Early Childhood Innovation Center at Delaware State University just awarded over 100 CDAs at a completion ceremony, where Council COO Andrew Davis was among the speakers. Andrew recently made another speech for the Early Learning Coalition at Florida International University when it awarded more than 100 CDAs, as we’d also like to note. In addition, we want to spotlight the steps that Michigan is taking to invest in the child care workforce. This month, our new CDA Investor Impact Series features a Michigan early childhood professional who is helping to build the pipeline of CDAs.

Kelsey Laird, director of professional programs at the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children, draws on her years in the early childhood classroom to give educators the support they need. “My experience as an educator and center director frames everything I do to guide educators and help with the roadblocks they face,” Kelsey says as she describes the work of her group. MIAEYC offers a four-month program to help new teachers gain basic classroom skills and partners with 14 community colleges to make it simpler for educators to earn their CDAs. It has a PD Specialist Hub to help candidates schedule assessments, brings educators and lawmakers together to discuss issues in ECE and offers scholarships for CDA fees to high schoolers who are earning the credential.

The high school CDA also launches careers, Josie Vincent tells us in this month’s edition. Josie is a young teacher at the Peck School in Michigan and used her CDA to take her first step into the early childhood profession. She earned her credential at Sanilac Career Center and now mentors CDA students at her school. She also touts the program on visits to the career center, where she urges students to take advantage of the funding available to earn their CDA. “It’s good to have in your toolbox if you have any plans to go into teaching.” And Josie encourages students to do so by talking about the satisfaction of teaching, though it takes persistence and hard work—especially when you teach children with disabilities, like those who have communication challenges, you’ll learn in our Experts Speak blog.

But educators should put in the extra effort it takes, insists one of the Council’s own experts, Dr. Calvin Moore, in Raising Successful Kids. In this new article, Dr. Moore makes a plea for inclusion when he urges educators to build warm, responsive bonds with every child to meet their unique needs and bring out their best. That’s what Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher, did as she opened the world to her young student, Dr. Moore relates in his blog, All Different and the Same. Sullivan’s impact led Mark Twain to call her a “miracle worker,” and her work would gain fame on the stage and screen. Less well known are the many teachers who also deserve awards for helping children make amazing breakthroughs every day. And that requires teachers who have the right training and take the right approach, as Dr. Moore points out. Children don’t need miracles. They need time, patience—and to be taught in a way that allows them to learn.

Happy Helen Keller Day,
The Council for Professional Recognition





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