*This blog post was originally sent as a letter to NAEYC members the day after the US Presidential Election.
Dear NAEYC Family,
When we launched the Early Ed for President campaign in the Fall of 2015, we said we believed that all candidates could embrace early learning on the road to the White House. And they did. One of the first national ads released by now President-Elect Trump focused on the importance of child care to our nation’s children, parents and economy.
But yesterday's election was about more than the White House. It was about the future of this country. And as early childhood educators, we, who hold a key to that future, are bound by a professional code of ethics that fights bias and respects the dignity, worth and uniqueness of all individuals, regardless of the color of their skin, the place in which they worship, the people they love, or the candidates for whom they voted. Each and every day, in early learning programs around the country, you, our NAEYC members, have a powerful opportunity to impact the lens with which children and their families approach the world.
Based on my own experience throughout decades of work in Arizona, and the many polls that have come out, equitable access to developmentally appropriate, high-quality early learning is truly a bipartisan issue and a moral agenda. We will continue to work in a bipartisan manner, educating new and returning elected officials in Washington, DC and across the country about our shared priorities for children, families, and educators as we confront a changed political landscape.
In a year of potentially record turnout, there are now 239 Republicans and 193 Democrats (with 3 undecided seats) in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the U.S. Senate, there are now 51 Republicans and 48 Democrats, with 1 undecided seat. Republicans won at least half of the 12 states where elections for Governor were held, and control upwards of two-thirds of state legislatures—including in Ohio, where two ballot initiatives to support early childhood education also passed. Changes at these state levels can also mean new state agency leaders—and important opportunities to advocate for child care and early learning, especially as the work on the implementation of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) continues.
Support for increased federal and state investment in early childhood education is high across the political, geographic, and demographic lines that have so clearly divided American voters, and if we are to come together, let support for all of our nation’s children and families drive that fight towards unity.
We have work to do, and we will do this work together. It will require bravery and courage; empathy and determination. So let’s get to it. Let’s hold our elected officials, at all levels of government, responsible for delivering on the promise of early childhood education, for the good of our children, our families and our nation.
Rhian Evans Allvin
Rhian Evans Allvin is the chief executive officer of NAEYC. She is responsible for guiding the strategic direction of the organization as well as overseeing daily operations. Before joining NAEYC, Evans Allvin was a guiding force in Arizona’s early childhood movement for more than 15 years, including serving as CEO of Arizona's First Things First.