Sunday, June 13, 2010

What Does It Mean to Be an ECE Professional?

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” -Albert Einstein

As is most of the world, our field it changing and for many this change is hard to take.  At first glance it may appear they do not want to change simply because they are afraid of change, and while for some that may be true there may be more to it than that. For while no one likes change, I think that most ECE professionals recognize that change must come if we are to really offer high quality programs that truly serve children's and family's needs.  But the method of that change is central to whether or not people will accept it.  And many people are not accepting the new director requirements, because of how they perceive it defines our field.

The basic questions is whether or not ECE is a profession or a vocation, and what that means for professional development.  The educational paths are very different, with few exceptions, for professionals than for those in vocations. This is not a judgment, but does reflect a reality of how each is viewed by society at large.  How ECE defines it's professional development will define how society views it, and that will in turn determine the kind and amount of support the field receives.  For example, professionals earn more, on average, than those in vocations, or at least that is a perception.  In general, a profession is, also viewed, as requiring more education than a vocation.  These somewhat abstract definitions have real-world impacts on how much ECE providers earn, and how they will be viewed by the clients they serve.

And many in the field here in Colorado view the new director requirements as putting a premium on certain classes rather than a degree, and for many this is insulting.  I know of several who have Master's degrees in Education, ECE, curriculum who are now being told that they are not as qualified as someone who has no degree and 30 credits in ECE.   But aside from these personal stories is the story of how the public at large views this.  And to put it into perspective- How would you view medicine if you were told that a degree in medicine does not make someone qualified to practice as a doctor, but if they take 30 credits at the community college they are qualified?  Would you want to pay them what doctor's earn now?  How would that change how you view the national debate on health care?

Changing how doctors (or any other field) are educated would, of course, change everything.  Which brings me the quote at the top of this blog:  Will these changes not only create the ECE field we want, but will they also keep the field alive, innovative, and constantly questioning what it is that young children and their families need to thrive?

Here is a link for further reading (sorry I am very limited on the number of links I can post)

PS:  Please respond with your thoughts. This blog is meant to be interactive, a forum for discourse, and not just my ramblings which are rather insignificant in the large scheme of things.  But your comments can make this bigger than just one person.

Monday, May 3, 2010

First Thoughts

It has been a long time since I have written, but I am now done with my class and have a little time, and I have been thinking. A bad habit probably, but one I seem stuck with.

Working with ECE programs that are going through a Quality Improvement Rating System leaves me a lot to to think about. One of the issues that has returned frequently is the cost of continuing the rating once the grant funds are used up. The cost here is $1200 per classroom for both centers and homes. That seems like a lot of money in a field with profit margins that are not usually over 3%, but after years of thinking about financing ECE it occurred to me that I have been approaching this from the wrong angle. I have been trying to figure how sites can pay for a rating every 2 years with what they earn from tuition now rather than asking the consumers of our field to pay for quality. I reflected on this after a rater had mentioned again that they wanted licensing and the rating to become one. I believe that is a good idea (with some reservations), but it worried me to think that sites would have to pay the extra cost. Then I realized that once again as a field we are taking this on ourselves. We do not like to ask for help or support even when it doesn't let us maintain the highest quality care and education for the young lives entrusted to us. I often wonder why this is, but in this case it seems quite silly, especially once I crunched the numbers. For example, a family child care provider with 6 children would need to raise their tuition $8.33 per month to cover the cost of the rating (that would equal $1200 over 2 years). A family child care provider with 12 children would need to raise their tuition by $4.16 per month. A center for 16 children would need to raise it $3.13 per month and a center with 60 children (4 classrooms) would need to raise it $3.33 per month. So why when we are talking about so little money don't we do it? And what is the cost of ensuring quality and who does the quality benefit? Finally what message does it give when we don't ask for enough to cover quality? Let's start a dialogue around this since it can be applied to many other things we forgo as a field (such as education) and if you agree than take it public by starting to talk about it. For example, we can start giving the message that quality costs, and this is what you pay to ensure it, then it would be in society's court to tell us why we aren't worth $8 a month.