Education in the United States, and especially early childhood education, is a decentralized patchwork of local, state, national, and private organizations. Even though public education remains (for now) in the public realm, unlike other countries, we lack a universal federally funded system of public education and instead we have 50 states who manage public education and even more organizations that oversee early childhood education. Given the disparities in how much state governments and local governments spend on early childhood education, we have a system that varies greatly in quality and access. Attempts to unify the profession are underway by those who seek to “establish a unifying framework for career pathways, knowledge and competencies, qualifications, standards, and compensation”. I support these efforts and participate when I can to ensure my voice is heard as others collaborate to strengthen the Power to the Profession project.
However, I do feel there is another type of unifying that needs to happen in the early childhood field. Yes, we must create a bold vision for the profession that addresses pathways, qualifications, and compensation, but we also need to unify the profession to build a movement of resistance. We must organize each other and educate our families so we can all mobilize to protect childhood and the profession. What do we need protection from? The Global Education Reform Movement (GERM), privatization of public education, neo-liberal reforms, test-based accountability, and other forces that push developmentally inappropriate practices, assessments, and policies are a great place to begin. These threats are real and any attempt to unify the profession that does not address how we resist these toxic efforts does not go far enough, in my opinion. Over the past 20-years we have identified and discussed these threats, but we have not established a movement of early childhood educators who collectively organize to resist.
Well, I am proud to announce that the time has come to build that movement. As the new Director of Early Childhood Organizing for Defending the Early Years (DEY), I will begin the task of developing an early childhood education resistance movement. Building on the work of DEY and other education justice allies, I will build relationships, identify knowledge and skills, and recruit early childhood educators to share stories of resistance and offer support to help build their resistance efforts. We know what works in early childhood education and we know what children need to develop and succeed. What we need is the time to come together, learn, organize, and support each other as we build a movement of resistance.
If you are in Washington, DC for the annual National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference, I invite you to join DEY at our 5th Annual Organizing Meeting on Friday November 16th at 7:30 pm in the Marriot Marquis Hotel, Capitol Room. Partnering with NAEYC’s Community Collaboration Interest Forum, DEY meets every year to organize participants on important issues. This year we will discuss how to build an early childhood education resistance and we will collect stories of resistance. How do you resist inappropriate standards? Less time for play? Inappropriate assessments? Demands for more academics? Every day, early childhood educators engage in efforts to resist things they know are harmful to young children. Help us help others, by sharing your resistance stories. If you cannot attend the organizing meeting you can email your story of resistance to firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to working with all of you as we build his movement together. We will protect childhood. We will protect the profession.