Early Childhood Education Advocacy Night

Early Childhood Education Advocacy Night

Early Childhood Education Advocacy Night

On May 30, the North Seattle College (NSC) Early Childhood Education (ECE) program hosted over 70 students and 30 community members for their first Advocacy Night at Seattle Central College.

The purpose of the event was to engage students in advocacy around the sector's professionalization and compensation. The event was sponsored by the Bainum Family Foundation and held in partnership with the Department of Early Learning Compensation Technical Workgroup. 

All five past and future cohorts of the NSC Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) students in the ECE program were represented at the night's event, showing up to support policy that builds a workforce that is well compensated and well qualified at centers across the state. Students from Associate of Applied Science and BAS programs were mixed with high-level experts at tables, sharing a meal and talking about their passions. 

Marica Cox Mitchell, Deputy Executive Director for Early Learning Systems at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in Washington D.C., delivered the keynote on Power to the Profession, a national initiative to define the early childhood profession by establishing a unifying framework for career pathways, knowledge and competencies, qualifications, standards and compensation. She emphasized the need for ECE teacher voices to be at the table in these conversations. 

Other panelists who joined Mitchell in the conversation included:

  • Tyler Bass, a Field Director for SEIU 925, who brought up important points about the intersectionality of representation in the sector. 
  • Laura McAlister, Education Director of Sound Childcare Solutions who envisions a competitive sector paying $30 per hour with 401k benefits. 
  • Angela Abrams, co-chair of the Department of Early Learning’s Compensation Technical Workgroup, who offered a holistic perspective on how networks work together to shape ECE compensation policy, and
  • Meka Riggins, BAS Program Advisory Board member and Childcare Aware Professional Development Manager, who served as facilitator.

The event also included focus groups, with facilitators from Olympia representing nonprofits, government agencies, higher education leaders, ECE professionals, and more.

Themes emerged from these direct discussions with ECE providers and students in the ECE program: a need for competitive wages, enthusiasm to engage with policy, and a true love for working with children. 

Data collected through these focus groups will be shared with the Department of Early Learning Compensation Technical Workgroup to support policy priorities being presented in December of 2018. 

The event concluded with calls to action, with many action items accessible for students, including contacting legislators, joining professional member organizations, and organizing within the student body.

Children’s Alliance member, Jessica Roach, expressed to students that grassroots organizing is where this movement begins, as also echoed by Marica Cox Mitchell. 

After the event, one student wrote, "I was really looking forward to the event and it blew my expectations out of the water. The panelists and facilitator you chose could not have been more inspiring and knowledgeable. I have an energy and inspiration that I haven't felt in years and I feel pulled in a direction that I had inklings about but didn't know how or where to focus the energy. This was such a powerful and magical night."

For more information on North Seattle College and its programs for Early Childhood Educators, please visit: northseattle.edu/programs/bas-early-childhood-education.

Posted on: June 13th, 2018 at 09:47:05

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