Celebrate Educators Through Advocacy
Today we celebrate Provider Appreciation Day and the final day of Teacher Appreciation Week. We want to take this opportunity to reiterate our appreciation for early childhood educators across the country—and our sincere commitment to creating a system and society that values, empowers, and compensates early childhood educators as the professionals and public servants that they are. This week, families, advocates, employers, and educators themselves have taken to social media, traditional media, and the halls of state capitol buildings across the country to show their support for early childhood educators and investments in early childhood systems.
• In Wisconsin, Raising Wisconsin engaged families and providers in Day Without Child Care by sharing powerful videos from families across the state, telling their stories of why child care—and early childhood educators—are critical and urging state lawmakers to invest in early childhood.
• In Arizona, Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC) board member and family child care provider Susan Randolph hosted the 2023 Provider Appreciation Luncheon, Southern Arizona AEYC celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week by offering gift cards to early childhood educators, and the Arizona Department of Economic Security asked families to “Thank a Child Care Provider!” and share what their early childhood provider means to them.
• Texas AEYC teamed up with ChildCare Education Institute to spotlight early childhood educators throughout the week and offer opportunities to win free professional development and CDA resources.
• More than 725 providers and programs closed their doors to participate in the second annual Day Without Child Care, and Community Change Action partnered with organizers and providers in more than a dozen states to hold Day Without Child Care events and rallies.
President Biden issued a proclamation for Teacher Appreciation Week, saying: “We owe our teachers and early childhood educators so much. We need to pay them better, improve their working conditions, and focus on recruitment and retention.” We are encouraged by the show of support from the White House and so many state and federal policymakers who have celebrated and elevated Teacher Appreciation Week, Provider Appreciation Day, and Day Without Child Care this week. We’re ready to build on that momentum!
As we look ahead, we must prioritize a system based on educator autonomy and accountability—a system that trusts the profession to determine what is appropriate and what early childhood professionals need in order to deliver high-quality early learning opportunities. We must also be intentional in our commitment to equity and maintaining the rich diversity of our profession.
The Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Education Profession gives us a roadmap for building such a system. It envisions a unified early childhood education profession of educators working with children birth through age 8, wherein early childhood educators at all levels of the profession are valued, respected, and well compensated.
As we reflect on how we show up for early childhood educators and demonstrate our appreciation this week and every other week, we know we have to go beyond words. We show our appreciation for educators by advocating for change, such as
• federal and state funding to reflect the true cost of quality, including professional compensation
• accessible pathways to and through degree and preparation programs
• supports for educators and families to address the developmental, mental health, behavioral, and physical needs of children
Before this Teacher Appreciation Week and Provider Appreciation Day come to an end, we urge you to join us in taking action on behalf of the educators in your life by calling your state and federal lawmakers and advocating for increased investments in early childhood!
Maria Estlund is a state policy specialist for NAEYC.