|Our Vision and Mission|
As early childhood educators, we literally hold the future in our hands. Children, their parents and families, our schools and communities - this very nation - depend on us to help prepare the next generation of citizens. The task, formidable by its very nature and expanse, continues to be transformed by policies and practices that are, more often than not, conceived, developed and evaluated by people who are far removed from the actual work and day-to-day realities of working with children and shaping their young lives.Now, more than ever, the voice of the workforce is needed at the tables where decisions are made about how programs are structured, staffed, and financed. There is no substitute for the sense of passion, authenticity, and urgency that comes from the experiences and expertise of teachers, assistant teachers, aides, and others who work directly with children on a day-to-day basis. Our professional standards demand that we not only protect, nurture and educate young children but that we value, respect and honor the voice of those who care for and educate them.
However you are connected to the field of early childhood education, whether you are a director or administrator, a state or local advocate, a faculty member at a university or college, a trainer or adult educator, a parent or grandparent of a young child, a grassroots or union organizer, I encourage you to examine how your work values the voice of the workforce. How does your work recognize the inextricable link between the needs and interests of young children and those of the workforce? Are you explicit in your intent to raise professional standards, working conditions and compensation for front-line staff? How do you welcome their involvement in decision-making opportunities and respect their right to be heard?
If you work directly with young children as a teacher, assistant teacher or other similar role, I invite you to reflect on these questions and challenge yourself and colleagues to, where opportunities already exist, make your voice heard in your own place of employment, public policy debates or local advocacy activities. If these kinds of opportunities seem obscure or altogether absent, I encourage you to reach out to professional organizations and associations that make workforce issues a priority.
A good place to start is this web site. CCW/AFTEF works on behalf of the workforce and our web site is designed to help you with your work with children by developing your own leadership and advocacy skills. You can find resources and publications as well as information on federal, state and local policy and initiatives. Stay connected to CCW/AFTEF and others who are committed to the issues on which we work by joining our network and help keep the movement for better jobs for early childhood educators growing and strong.
The future is in your hands, and that future starts today!