A Letter from the Chief Executive Officer
February 22, 2017
Dear NAEYC Members,
On January 17 2017, more than 60 early childhood education leaders gathered at the national headquarters of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to formally commence NAEYC’s Power to the Profession initiative. This project will result in a unified framework to define the early childhood education profession. These leaders represent nearly two million professionals in the early childhood education field.
“For too long, early childhood educators have not been able to advance as a unified profession. We continue to have significant variation in preparation, practice expectations, and compensation. Rooted in the voices and perspectives of the professionals themselves, Power to the Profession is our opportunity to come together to create unified expectations and deliver on the promise of investing in early childhood.”
The seminal report, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation released in 2015 by the National Academy of Medicine made the compelling case for the critical work of early childhood educators, the specialized knowledge necessary to implement the science of early childhood development, and the need for greater investments to support the profession. The report also highlighted the fractured and fragmented realities of the early childhood workforce and the negative impact on workforce effectiveness. Power to the Profession was formed in response to the findings of the report and is rooted on the premise that early childhood educators must come forward to define the early childhood education profession.
In order to understand the structure of an established profession, the audience heard from a panel of leaders from other professions including Dr. Kathleen Ogle, President of the Maryland Nurses Association and Associate Professor at Towson University, Erin Murphy, Senior Director for the Center for Emerging Professionals at the American Institute of Architects, and Angela Modrick, Certified Public Accountant and Director of Accounting at NAEYC.
Each of the panelists described the roles within their profession and the responsibilities that make them unique from other occupations in their field. For example, architects are part of the Architecture, Engineering and Construction field that includes building engineers, contractors, plumbers, electricians and many others. However, architects have the unique responsibility and liability for the final set of signed and sealed drawings for building plans. In the early childhood field, there are many roles and occupations that work on behalf of children birth to age 8. Power to the Profession will define the unique responsibilities of early childhood educators and establish measures of accountability for those responsibilities.
“Decades ago, the nursing profession was exactly where early childhood educators are today. We did not have a common identity, we were perceived as pillow-fluffers, and earned low wages,” Dr. Kathleen Ogle, President of the Maryland Nurses Association and Associate Professor at Towson University, said. “Creating uniformed entry requirements, defining expectations for nursing practice, and increasing the diversity of nurses were instrumental in advancing the nursing profession.”
What was clear from the presentations is that all professions share a set of core components, many of which overlap with Power to the Profession’s anticipated areas of focus, including:
- Distinct roles within the profession
- Educational requirements
- Examinations for entry into the profession
- Standards for professional practice
- Individual licenses issued by a state governing body
“The good news is that we are starting on a strong foundation created from decades of advocating for early childhood education. While many states and national organizations, like the Council for Professional Recognition and NAEYC, along with others, have contributed to the development of some components of a profession—our work is not done,” said Valora Washington, CEO of the Council for Professional Recognition. “This task force has an opportunity to identify areas of consensus to help ensure that new guidelines would apply to all early childhood educators working with young children birth through age eight in all settings including child care, family child care, Head Start, public pre-K and kindergarten to third grade.”
Power to the Profession has a two-year time frame for establishing a unified framework for the early childhood education profession. Once established, a robust policy adoption and financing strategy will begin. Throughout the two-year process, Power to the Profession is actively seeking input from the field. Add your voice to the discussion today!
Stay tuned for more updates and opportunities to engage in this movement.
Rhian Evans Allvin