December 2022 Council Letter: Our Teachers and Children Deserve the Best

December 15, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

It’s starting to look like the coming year holds promise for our profession. The number of early childhood teachers is ticking up, with 10,000 educators added over the past two months. And the states are stepping up to support the work these professionals do. Recently, 70 percent of New Mexico voters approved a ballot measure to put $150 million each year into programs for young children. And New Mexico isn’t the only place where early learning has bipartisan appeal. In Arkansas, incoming Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that she will invest more in early learning to raise reading scores by third grade. Elsewhere in the South, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster have prioritized early learning in their budget requests. And Maryland’s incoming Democratic governor, Wes Moore, has promised to provide free pre-K to all the state’s children in the next 10 years.

As part of this ambitious expansion of pre-K, Maryland will need to boost the number of early childhood teachers. So, the Council has partnered with the state education department to help Maryland teachers earn or renew their Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential™. The Maryland grant will cover the cost of applying and books through the summer of 2023, and it’s not all the Council is doing to give answers to a national dilemma: the current shortage of qualified teachers for our youngest learners.

We’re also making ongoing efforts to lift our profession up so it can raise children to the highest possible level in their growth. This year, we began holding an ECE Practitioner Day that provides sessions on professional growth and self-care, along with chances to network with peers. We’re coming out soon with a new edition of our textbook, Essentials for Working with Young Children, where we’ll put more focus on equity in early learning. We’re also working to advance equity for the members of our field as we reimagine the CDA® process to make it better and more user-friendly for teachers of all backgrounds.

That should benefit the CDA students who Danielle Lansing teaches at Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, NM. “We’re part of the Bureau of Indian Education, so all our students are members of federally recognized tribes,” as Lansing tells us this month. Her focus is on helping the students connect to the values and beliefs of the communities from which they come. So, her program partners with parents to help foster needed changes in early learning and produce citizens who will preserve tribal culture. “Parents,” she explains, “need to have a seat at the table when we’re determining what educational theories and systems will be most beneficial for tribal children.”

And a similar plea appears in Parent Nation, a heartfelt book we review this month. Its author, Dana Suskind, is a pediatric surgeon, social scientist and mom who calls on parents to join their voices like seniors did to form AARP. Parents have strength in numbers and share a special interest that unites them: the trials they face to raise young children in a nation where public concern and funds have focused on K-12 schooling. America’s failure to help children and parents during the early years of life means we have skipped over the phase that lays the foundation for lifelong learning, as Suskind points out. And our lapse goes against the findings of science and our country’s founding ideal of social justice for all.

We all suffer because we have not yet come to recognize “early education as a public good” that helps children fulfill their promise, Suskind warns. And Dr. Calvin Moore agrees, as he explains this month in his blog. Free public preschool, he points out, makes the best use of limited education budgets, allows parents to work and builds bridges among children of diverse backgrounds. It also produces healthier, more productive adults who can contribute to the GDP—advantages the states have seen. The investments they’ve begun to make in early learning give us fresh hope for the future. It looks like our nation is on the way to fulfilling the promise of pre-K for all.

See you in 2023,

The Council for Professional Recognition

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